The Sound Barrier – a writing warmup that took on a life of its own.

 I’m actually kind of excited about this story now… I can imagine Jesse Eisenberg playing Ted… xD

There was something intrinsically strange about this girl with the wildfire hair and the chalybeous eyes. It was a uniqueness that went beyond her choice of attire, a spaghetti strap two piece with the bottoms barely covered by a sheer wrap.

Ted could only assume it was the way she walked. She moved as if she didn’t have anywhere to be. Every step contradicted itself as some apathetic mode of transportation. It wasn’t a pretentious movement. It was aloof rather than snooty or lazy, a stark contrast to the controlled, forceful gait of most teenage girls with bodies like hers. He was sure the oddities wouldn’t stop there. He was convinced she’d have the husky voice of a jazz singer and the history of a nun. Truth was, he’d never seen her before. He didn’t know a thing about her.

And if you don’t get your ass moving, Ted, you’re probably not going to get the chance.

But how?

He asked himself in his movie star voice, the tone of all his inner monologues.

Would she be able to understand?

Write something down, nitwit!

The only thing that could have made him feel any more foolish was if he had actually been signing ‘out loud’.

He tore a contest entry slip from the kiosk across the aisle. It didn’t take long to find the words. The written versions came easy.

‘I saw you from the second floor.’

Prefect starting sentence. It stated a clear beginning but kept all pertinent information for later. His teacher would call it a hook. He called it a push. Now, to continue.

‘I’m the guy with the dark hair and black eyes. I’m wearing a rolling stones T.’

Keep her interested, Teddy, that’s it. You’re not a bad looking guy, she’ll bite. Give a little without giving too much. Now to close it.

‘You should come up, we could get something to eat if you’re hungry.’

Was he actually being that forward? He wondered why until he checked to see if she was still there.
She laughed. She wasn’t talking to a friend. She didn’t have her phone to her head. She had given a full, real, genuine laugh to an old teller at a novelty shop. She was having a real conversation with a guy that most girls would’ve found creepy. Did she know him? He doubted it from the way she walked out of the store. There was no lingering. She was just being nice. For a second, Ted mused about how sad it was that the behavior he had witnessed was so rare that it was attractive. He snapped out of it when he realized his note was location dependent. It wouldn’t make much sense if she read it from the second floor, herself.

Quick, to the last line!

His hand hesitated. It knew what it should write. It just wouldn’t. It must have been conspiring with his stomach, they both knotted at the same time.

Warn her, Ted. It wouldn’t be fair to get her up here and spring it on her.

But how could he write it without compromising the casual vibe he’d created?

‘I’m mute, so I should get a notebook first.’

Seriously? That’s how your going to put it?

Ted never liked the word ‘dumb’, but he couldn’t help saying it over and over in his head.

He wrote it anyway. He folded it into a little paper airplane and wrote the words ‘open me’ across the wings. He checked his target.

Ah, crap.

Where was she? He paced the ledge of the second floor balcony, keeping his eyes to the aisles below. He felt like a stalking predator, the kind you see on animal planet, not dateline. She was dressed in swimming clothes in the middle of november! How could it be this hard to spot her among the sweaters and jackets?

He finally caught a flash of color, the kind you see on loud hawaiian shirts. Those same screaming hues often find themselves on those clothes that girls call cute and guys call ridiculous. They belonged to fire girl’s makeshift skirt.

Ted slid past a group of tourists. They seemed like the same vaguely foreign family you see in every mall, snapping pictures like this shopping mecca in this nowhere town was the space needle. To him, they were unwitting foes, barring him from a date.

That may have been his imagination taking and he may have been a little overzealous with escaping their treacherous grasp. At least he apologized to the grandmother and helped her back to her feet, though he was sure she couldn’t understand english, let alone american sign language. From the gasps and looks coming from the rest of the family, he might as well have been throwing gang signs.

At least he was closer to her, his stranger stranger.

She was turning into a real burden. The one thing keeping him from giving up was the thought of telling her how much trouble she had become. Maybe that would get a smile. That’s really all he wanted.

He was right above her on the opposite side. Prime real estate, the prefect launch pad. She was typing something on her cell phone. Maybe he wouldn’t have to get a notebook after all. Save a tree, text a mute guy.

He was going to use that one too.

Throwing a paper airplane isn’t rocket science. If you built it right, it’ll fly. If you aim it right, it’ll go where you want it to. If you’re not a complete moron, you’ll know to not throw it like a fastball at the seventh inning.

Ted wasn’t a complete moron. He was, however, a little preoccupied. The large burly grandson of the old lady he’d knocked over had been arguing with himself about whether he should confront this rude young man or just let it go.

The finger in Ted’s shoulder is a clue to what he decided. It tapped as he let his winged message fly. He turned around.


The guy was big. He was angry. He was foreign, so there was a language barrier. There was a sound barrier, for christ’s sake.

Ted started signing rapidly. He wasn’t making any sense with his words. Had he been speaking, they would have thought he was insane.






Duck goes quack.

He certainly hoped this man really didn’t know american sign language. That would be an awkward explanation. Thankfully, his trick had always worked, no exception here. People make the connection after a few spirited hand gestures. The man began nodding. His face had softened and he backed away.

Ted looked at the old woman again and tried to convey sincerity with his eyes. His hand spoke an apology and her smile replied with acceptance.

He turned back around. The plane had teetered off course but maybe she had gotten it. Maybe it landed close enough for her to notice.

He heard a whistle from behind him. Would that family ever leave him alone? He refused to turn around until he realized that they probably thought he was deaf. Why would they whistle?

Oh. Someone else is trying to reach you, idiot.

Ted turned around in the coolest way possible. He leaned his back on the bannister and cocked his head to the side.

He saw the tall, well dressed young man holding his note. The coy smile on his face, set above his festive turtle neck told ted the unfortunate truth.

He had an uncomfortable situation to explain.

Well, Teddy, time to get that notebook.

The man’s hands flashed into well-formed words.



Posted from WordPress for Android – Edited on WordPress


About Aaron Shively

I have been working as a freelance writer and artist for the last decade. In that time, I've done everything from ghostwriting to toy design and everything in between. I am currently working on a novel series called 'Myth' which has held my attention for the past sixteen years. I have spent my time developing the world, character and story and am now ready to funnel all the preliminary material into the manuscript of the first installment, 'of Men and Monsters' Bookmark & Share

Posted on 04/28/2011, in Freewriting, Personal, Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I hate to do this to you – but I’m going to go with the same thing we talked about. Offer you a lot of praise, without really pointing out anything that needs worked on.

    And that’s simply because I can’t see anything major that does need worked on. Although I would kind of agree with Chris (the other commenter) about the ‘water blue’ eyes.

    I gotta say, I loved the end of this chapter. And, well, all of it really. But that end really made me laugh. I think this has some real promise, Aaron!

    • DAMN YOU ALLLLL! lol
      Although, I’m happier with any comment really, as long as they exist. It tells me that people are actually READING the post instead of clicking a link, reading the title, then proverbially pissing on the blog.

      Thank you for your feedback. I have to say that since you told me exactly what you liked about it, it’s far better than ‘you did a great job’. lol.

  2. I like the wildfire hair part, but something about “water blue” lacks the same ring that wildfire has. Maybe sapphire or or shining or something of the sort. Water seems like the easy way out.
    Could you possibly use some kind of modified quotation to signify when he’s talking to himself, since it seems like actual dialogue anyway? The way it is now I’m not sure when he’s ‘speaking’ and when he’s just thinking. I like the way his ‘writings’ are quoted, if you can’t think of some method to do this with his *speaking thoughts* as well.
    Also, you forgot to capitalize Ted the last time it’s written. 🙂
    Just some things I thought of while reading and re-reading through.

    • YOU NITPICKING SON OF A… oh, wait, good points. 😉
      I tried some other things beyond ‘water blue’ but they all seemed cliche… even more so than the one I arrived at. It will be looked over, though.
      Are you talking about when he seems to be talking to himself or when he’s signing? I should have italicized his thoughts, but I wrote it on the phone. so… phhht. I’ll get it in edits. As for the signing, I do want to use brackets to signify that instead of quotations. The writings will remain with single quotations, though… this story is difficult because we have speech, thought, writing and typing, and signing xD.

      And yes, the capitalization is a problem, but, like I said damn phone.

      So, the water thing is the only content problem that you had? Everything else was technical?

  1. Pingback: Updates, callbacks and a new direction. « to Write, Perchance to Dream

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