Beep, Beep

Renay H. Marquez met Caitlin Hernandez as a part of a disability awareness group five years ago. Renay and Caitlin have exchanged writing over the years, looking to improve their fiction material. Most recently, Caitlin posted an essay she wrote while in high school about her first Easter Egg hunt when she was quite young. Beep, Beep attracted Renay’s attention due to the holiday and as a reminder to the fact that without technology some experiences in life wouldn’t have happened for many of her students.

Mommy says we’re going to an Easter egg hunt. Only it’s just for blind kids. So it’s not like when I go to birthday parties and there’s a pinata and all the sighted kids get a ton of candy before I can even get one piece. The big kids push the little kids back, too. So between those two things, by the time I get candy, it’s stepped on, or it’s the kind I don’t want or like. Some kids are pigs and take more than they are supposed to. I think that’s mean.
I don’t like pinatas. They’re not fair. I bet I could swing best with a bat, if I could see the pinata. I’m good with a bat. I play T-Ball in the backyard with Daddy. There’s a big pole thing, and a cup on the top where the ball goes. Then my Daddy gives me a bat in my hand, and I touch the ball and get the bat right, and then I swing really hard and the ball goes flying, and my Daddy says, “Good!”, and my Mommy says, “Wow!”
But pinatas are mean. Actually, they are stupid, but I’m not supposed to say that. But they are. They always swing away before I can hit them straight. After I hit, people tell me I did great. But I don’t know. How come the pinata didn’t break when I batted, then?
But now we’re going to this Easter egg hunt, and only blind kids will be there to hunt. So there won’t be any unfairness.
We drive there in the Volvo. I sit in the soft back seat and smell the familiar car smell. Mommy says we’re going to sell this car soon. It’s older than me, she says. The car is about seven years old, but it works okay. This car isn’t as old as my sister, though. They’re close to the same age. My sister’s really old. And smart. She’s in the second grade. They have to do work in second grade. At preschool, we mostly just play. My sissy is nice to me. We are best friends.
The ride is long, but I like car rides, so I don’t care. I am so excited and a chatterbox. I talk and talk and talk until Mommy tells me to calm down, so I turn on my tape recorder. I like to bring my tapes in the car with me and listen to my music. I like to sing along. But I like story tapes, too.
We finally get there. There are blind kids all over the place, talking and laughing. Some I know, but not very well. A couple of kids from my preschool are there, so I stay with them. This hunt is at somebody’s house, and there is going to be food after. I like food, especially barbecue. My daddy makes the best barbecue in the whole wide world, with burgers, the bestist burgers I ever tasted. The cheese is always all melty and the meat is very juicy, and there’s always fries, too, all salty and warm. And I usually get a cup of Pepsi to go with it. I love Pepsi, unless it doesn’t have ice in it. I got a Pepsi with no ice once and it made my nose hurt a whole lot, which was dumb. I really like dinners from the barbecue. The air always smells smoky after them, and while they’re being cooked up. I can smell it from my bedroom. I wish we had barbecue every night.
We all get big baskets. The grown-ups say to put the eggs in our basket as we find them. After we find all our eggs, we get stuff. Prizes. For finding eggs, I guess. I hope I find lots of eggs, because then I’ll get lots of prizes, which are fun.
I wonder how big the eggs will be.
My mommy takes me into the backyard. She holds my hand and walks me out there. There is tons of beeping going on. It’s loud and shrieky and it never stops. It sounds like a billion bees buzzing really really loud.
I don’t like things that make buzzy noises. They scare me. But this is “beep,” not “buzz,” so it is okay. I’m not scared.
I figure out about those beeping things. The beeping is the eggs we’re supposed to find and put in our baskets.
I wonder how much beeping eggs cost.
We’re in a big field. I can feel how open it is. The sun is shining, too. I can see it through my sunglasses. I smell the barbecue already, too.
All the adults go to the side. They leave us kids in the field. Nobody has a cane. We all just stand where we are, holding our baskets. I feel the hard, rough, woven handle of mine.
Standing there, it’s like we’re free. From what, I don’t know.
Finally, they tell us to go, and we all run like crazy. At first I think it will be easy to find those beeping eggs, on account of I can hear really well. But it’s not, because the beeping is chasing me, just like the other kids around me are chasing the eggs.
I bend down and feel around, listening for a close beep. The grass is all wet on my fingers, and the air is cold, like morning. The smells are good, like the cut, damp grass, and sun. It’s an outsidey smell. It’s windy, too. The air blows, and I can feel it on my face.
Kids are running around me. Nobody has their canes. Canes are good, but we don’t need them. Not here. Not now. We’re just playing. Just like nobody uses a cane in their own house. Even if we don’t know where to go here, it doesn’t matter because parents are watching, and we’re safe, and nothing bad is going to happen.
The field really is big, like I thought. Lots of space, which is how I like it.
But I don’t want to run into anything. Even if I’m pretty sure nothing’s here, you never know. There could be a tree no one told you about. Or a big hole people forgot to say was there. So I don’t run full speed, because no one is walking with me.
I bump into kids. Some of them are my same size, but a lot are taller. They have jackets on like me. We bump and we move aside. We don’t need to say “sorry” because none of us can see, so it’s normal to crash sometimes.
Something bumps into my shoe. An egg? I dive down and grab it just in case. Real fast. Before someone else takes it first and won’t give it back. Pinatas taught me something. Be quick, or else you don’t get what you found, even if you were the one who found it and it should be yours to keep forever.
It is an egg! It’s in my hands now. I’m jumping up and down, screaming with joy and waving my one hand above my head while I hold the egg against my tummy with the other hand.
The egg is smooth and round. The smoothness reminds me of my geode’s smooth side. I like that geode.
The egg is made of plastic. It’s like the eggs I’ve touched before at other hunts: the ones my Aunt Linda sets up in our backyard. She puts money and candy in those eggs. They don’t beep, though, so Courtney, my big sister, holds my hand, and we hunt together, and then we share everything.
This egg’s a billion times bigger and heavier than Aunt Linda’s little eggs. It’s just like the big, heavy rock I dug up at the park last week.
I try to pull the egg open. I can’t. I hold it against my stomach and pull, like I do on the little capsules with prizes from the vending machines at the pizza places we go to for dindin. Finally, I get it open. Inside the egg, there’s a bunch of wires attached to a little box. The beeping gets louder when I open the egg, like I turned the volume up on a tape and pushed Play. I want to cover my ears, but I can’t figure out how, because then I’d drop the egg.
Kids bump around me as I explore my egg. I’m standing just like a tree in the middle of the field, not moving, checking out what I found, just like I do in the sandbox at preschool. I take home anything I find. I put it in my pocket and carry it home with me where it’s safe. Mommy says we don’t have room for all that stuff I bring back from school. But I like it, so I bring it home anyway. I save the special stuff. I have a basket my teacher, Deborah, gave me. It has shells and rocks in it. My favoritist shell is smooth, polished, and round. It has speckly dots on it, and they remind me of Braille. That’s why that shell is my favoritist one.
As I hold my egg, the first one I found, Mommy comes up to me.
“You found an egg,” she says. She sounds happy for me.
“I wanna turn it off,” I reply.
I want to make sure I can do it myself. So if I need to someday, I’ll know how.
Mommy tells me. It’s easy.
“Flip the switch, and it stops,” she says.
But there’s more beeps to go. More beeps to turn off. So I drop my egg in my basket. I know I’ll get prizes for my eggs. Later, though. Not now. Now we’re hunting. The prizes will be good ones, I know. Like chocolate. I love chocolate. It’s so sweet and tasty, and I love how it melts in my mouth sometimes, especially chocolate kisses and Kit-Cats and all the other stuff I get on Halloween.
This hunt is fun. I like it. And we’re having barbecue after. Juicy burgers and hot dogs. Maybe cake, too. I don’t know yet. But first thing’s first.
Mommy’s gone again, and I turn and run.
More eggs. That’s all I want now. All those beeps are like voices calling for me to come and find them, come and turn them off. One beep, two beeps, three beeps, off. I get them. So do the other kids. After a while, all the beeps will stop. If we work together, it will happen.
So, with the high-pitched beeps in my ears, the feel of the wet grass on my shoes and hands as I hunt, I run. I taste the crisp air that’s almost as good as barbecue.
My first Easter egg hunt.
An Easter Egg Hunt that is fun.
And fair.

Caitlin Hernandez graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a bachelor’s degree in English-language literature. Throughout her years at UCSC, she was the co-president of the school’s Disability Alliance, acting as a mentor for incoming freshmen and transfer students with disabilities.  She has tutored and volunteered
in the classroom with students of all ages and with various disabilities.  Her passions include reading, singing, and writing novels and short stories for and about teens and young adults. Caitlin plans to become a special education teacher.

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2 Responses to Beep, Beep

  1. Caitlin: This is such a touching story. Thank you for all that you do to make people more aware of what life is like for children who are visually impaired.

  2. Deborah says:

    Caitlin, i remember when this hunt happened! What a dear story…especially fun hearing it in “little Caitlin’s” voice. I loved it!

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