This is a character journal for the protagonist of “We all have our own languages here” please do not read this first. If you have not read that piece yet, this will influence your opinion of the character, so please read that first.
Age: 35 (20 at age of accident)
Physical Characteristics: mute, average looks, average height on slightly more muscular side (upper-body), slightly above average looks, dark brown hair, hazel eyes, distinguished nose, squarish face, wears a leather banded watch on his left wrist, right handed, wears buttons down shirts or polos and relaxed dark blue jeans.
Family: mother and father (deceased)
brother (estranged) (32)
History: Grew up in a quiet suburban life, he had two adoring parents and a younger brother that idolized him. He was a football player, running back, worked out religiously, loved to run, enjoyed algebra, hated English class, was never an eloquent essayist. He was going to be recruited for a football scholarship to college when he busted his kneecap- he would never run again. He never really wanted to go to college. His brother (Billy) was mad with him for giving up on college. John started working at a local gas station and auto garage. His girlfriend of 2 years, a well respected girl of the community and mayor’s daughter, broke up with him when she went to college. Begins listlessly living out his life, working, having flings with younger girls, fighting his brother and parents. His father wants him to go back to school, his mother wants him to get back together with his girlfriend, his brother wants him to stop being such an embarrassment.
The Accident: At 20 years old John is sitting in the backseat of his mom’s Ford, his father driving, as the three of them drive to his brother’s new play production. They are hit in a head on collision with a truck. His parents are killed on impact, he is knocked unconscious and hospitalized. He awakes 3 hours later in the hospital with his brother asleep in the chair beside him. He cannot find his voice. The doctors are amazed at his condition and can not find a cause for his muteness. His brother accuses him of faking it.
Post Accident: John takes custody of his little brother until he turns 18, his parents have left him all of their estate. His aunt and grandmother try to help look after them, cooking for them and such. His brother and him fight constantly but when he turns 18 he refuses to leave his brother and chooses to go to community college with his parents’ college fund. He learns sign to communicate with his family (who also learn ASL), his grandmother encourages him to join communities for the mute/deaf. He goes through trauma therapy, which he does not like very much. His therapist, whom he also does not like (she’s a very strict older woman that reminds him of his grandmother but without the care in her eyes, she likes to test John and push him to do things that he is uncomfortable with. She recognizes that he has never fought for anything in his life and wants him to see something as worthy and fight for it, so she makes his recovery a “fight”). His younger brother is studying creative writing and psychology and has a penchant for theater. One weekend he brings home an older boy with him and introduces him to John as his boyfriend, he yells at John accusing him of not understanding him and stereotyping him, John doesn’t say a thing. John continues to work at the gas station and auto garage but they’ve put him to work in the garage where he doesn’t work directly with people. It is hard learning to communicate with people, using mostly a white board or hand gestures. He tends to stay quiet most of the time. He discovers he has a talent for working on cars, and his boss mostly leaves him alone to his work. John sells their family home and buys a small apartment for his brother and him. He continues to work at the garage, settle his parents’ affairs and look after his brother until his brother graduates from college. Upon graduation his brother decides he wants to attend a graduate school in New York with his boyfriend. They exchange emails and phone calls where John doesn’t say anything occasionally. He continues to live through life ambition-less, in a steady routine. At some point he begins working at a larger garage. When John is 33 his grandmother passes away, his brother comes back for the wake and the two of them have a big argument. Neither of them can remember what it was about. It was John’s first time seeing his brother in 5 years. They don’t talk again after that. John begins going to group because his therapist tells him to (she thinks he’s lonely and wants him to make some human connections). After 2 years of not speaking to one another his brother calls him one day out of the blue to tell him how he’s doing, he’s moved in with his partner of 3 years, they’ve bought a dog, and to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner. In the group for physically disabled individuals that he has joined he met a young blind girl named Annabell. He’s been saving up money and is considering purchasing his own garage but is afraid to commit. His therapist is pushing him into it, but he’s not sure if he can run a business on his own.
Personality: John is a listless individual who is perfectly content with his unfulfilling life of work, therapy, group, meaningless sex, and sleep. His therapist believes his indifference is really passive aggressiveness from lasting affects of his parents’ accident in which she believes he blames himself. This however, is not entirely accurate because John’s personality was characteristic of that prior to the accident. He is unconcerned with his own lackluster lifestyle and inability to create meaningful relationships since his grandmother’s death. His therapist believes this emotion is seated in a fear that everyone he has had a deep relationship with has left him; his ex-girlfriend, his parents, his brother, his grandmother. John doesn’t think that’s true, he believes that relationships just aren’t for him. His therapist believes he feels inadequate, that he doesn’t deserve someone’s affections or a strong relationship. This may be true. John also finds people to be fascinating, and enjoys listening to them, although he rarely has any of his own ideas, feelings, opinions, or personality to contribute to conversation.
Quirks: Squeezes Annie’s shoulder to speak with her. Listens to people talk in public places. Cooks more food than is necessary for just himself.
Habits: Rarely “signs”, doesn’t like to talk about himself, likes routines, enjoys listening to people stammer on about themselves while staring blankly at them, doesn’t form relationships easily, prefers short flings. His most interesting quality is in how he likes to listen to people talk without responding on his own part. He may not appear to be a very interesting person, but he is quietly contemplative.
Hobbies: watching bad action thrillers, cooking (his grandmother taught him how), likes puzzles, listening to people talk, talk radio, watching sports
Relationships: Brother: John used to be very close to his brother, he helped raise him after his parents’ death. His brother used to have a sort of hero worship for him, but into high school, and after his football accident they began to argue constantly as his brother thought he was wasting his life away. After the accident with his parents he became mute and his brother accused him of purposely not talking. His brother wishes they were close still, he wishes John would have some ambitions. John cares for his brother but does not make an effort to reach out to him. After their grandmother’s funeral they fight and don’t speak to one another for two years. His brother calls him out of the blue trying to reconnect with him.
Annabell “Annie”: When John meets a new girl in his recovery group who is visually impaired, he instantly feels connected to her. Although he at first has trouble communicating with her, he enjoys just listening to her and spending time with her, occasionally giving her a shoulder squeeze to acknowledge he is there and listening. He slowly begins to realize that he wants to know more about her, he wants to communicate with her, to tell her how he feels, and he hasn’t felt in so long. And than he realizes that he already is communicating with her. He slowly starts to see a change in his own life.
Aunt: John’s aunt helped care for him after his parents’ passing. She always let’s John know that she is available if he ever needs anything, hoping that he will come to her with an emotional breakthrough. Even after his grandmother’s passing and his brother leaving she still keeps an eye on him and “drops by” to check on him occasionally. She believes he just needs some time to organize his thoughts about everything. She also worries about his seemingly apathetic attitude towards life. She occasionally contacts John’s little brother for updates on his life and to let him know how John’s doing.
Grandmother: John had a very interesting relationship with his grandmother. After his parents passed away, other than his brother, she was the closest relationship he had. He respected her and appreciated her assistance with helping out around the house. He is most appreciative for everything she did for his brother. John wants nothing for himself from life, he is not ambitious and doesn’t care much for things or relationships, but his grandmother always urged him to pursue what he deserves, to fight for things. He loves his grandmother, and takes everything she says to heart, but after her passing has not followed her advice. She was a tough woman, who could easily push John and his little brother around, but had a kind heart and a love of cooking. She taught John to cook “so you can take care of yourself when I’m gone”.
Therapist: John’s therapist, whom he has been seeing since his parents’ death, very much reminds John of his grandmother, and all the other “controlling” women in his life (or women that have been in and passed through his life). His therapist is the only consistent relationship in his life, and the only person that stays with him. She consistently tells him that she will always stay with him and that he is worth it. John doesn’t mind his therapist, but also doesn’t follow her advice very often, as he hasn’t for most of the women in his life. His therapist wants to see him attempting to make human connections, which is why she suggested a support group for him. John humors her in this, but probably won’t stick it out very long (like most things in his life). His therapist is also trying to encourage him to start up his own garage, she believes it will be a positive step in his recovery that he has been slowly undergoing for 15 years.
Parents: John’s parents were very supportive and caring of their two sons. They never had a remarkable affect on his life other than quietly supporting him. Towards the end of their lives they would often argue with their eldest son on how his life was going. They disapproved of his apathetic nature. His mother who wished him success in his relationships and love would constantly harass him about his ex-girlfriend and the women she thought could be “good for him”. His father who wished him success in his career opportunities and business life would constantly harass him about continuing his education and pursuing a high paying career. After their passing John never pursued either of these “dreams”.