Speechless – Chapter 2, Part 1

Aaron’s habit of posting before editing is going to kill him. No… wait… that’s me. 😉

Brandon laughed. Ted didn’t.

{It’s not funny.}

Walking and signing wasn’t easy. Ted wasn’t the most balanced and coordinated guy anyway. His shoe had caught on a raised, poorly laid sidewalk block.

Brandon finally let him go after catching him. He seemed a little to eager to grab him.

“Sure it is. It was actually kind of adorable. Like stuttering, but with your whole body.”

{Yeah yeah, shutup. Where did you live before you moved here?}

“We moved here from Vermont. Before that it was New York, that’s where I was born.”

{Did you like V-e-r-m-

Vermont was a hard word for Ted. He tried spelling the whole thing until Brandon grabbed his hand and corrected him.


Ted repeated the two letter abbreviation over and over, backwards and forwards. He put his thumb up when he felt he’d gotten it down. He’d developed the method during therapy. The thumbs-up solidified what he was learning. It was his ritual.

{Ok, did you like VT?}

“Yeah, Vermont was pretty cool. We weren’t there for long so it wasn’t like I had a great connection to the place. Not like New York.”

Ted preferred people to speak to him. He didn’t want to lose that connection with the voice, at least not other people’s. But he was having a hard time keeping up with words he didn’t know how to translate through his hands.

{Could we sign?}

“You asked me to speak. Come on now, pick one. I thought you liked my voice.”

Brandon had a habit of speaking with a smile. Ted wondered if he did it all the time, with people he just met, or just while he was flirting.

{It’s easier to watch you. You’re better than I am. Maybe I can learn}

Brandon bowed and imediately responded with flourishing motions.

{Well, when you put it that way.}

He was more comfortable with multitasking, with signing in general. He’d been doing this for a lot longer. It had taken Ted a while to convince him that he wasn’t madly in love and that fate had no hand in their meeting. But what did Ted know? Though there wasn’t a romance, maybe it was some kind of destiny. How many non-deaf signers do you meet by chance at the mall?

{So why can’t you talk?}

Brandon had been trying to get an answer to that question since they started ‘talking’.

{Car accident. It was a few years ago.}

Ted didn’t like discussing it. Brandon noticed.


Ted didn’t have very many friends anymore. Limited communication was the best way to drop some excess baggage. Too bad he was understocked well before he came back to school with the scar on his neck and a set of fabulous flinging fingers.

It was strange, connecting with someone of the same sex who thought you’d been attracted to them. But Brandon was cool. He was the first person he’d been able to have a real conversation with for a while.

{Don’t worry about it. You said you’ve been signing since you were little. Why?}

Ted stepped wide over a crack. He had to turn around to catch Brandon’s response.

{My Mom’s deaf. She was born that way.}


Ted was surprised when Brandon scoffed and lifted his eyebrow.


For a second, Ted couldn’t think of anything. A mother being deaf, not being able to speak to her child, it just seemed automatically unfortunate.

{I don’t know. It’s just what people say when someone has a hard childhood.}

Brandon didn’t show any sign of sadness. His smile did become different. It got wider.

{Your parents read you stories right?}

Ted lied.

{Yeah, of course.}

Brandon started speaking in a deep voice, but kept signing in perfect syncronicity. Ted focused on the hands.

{Well, my Dad would read the books. My Mom would sign them too. I never heard her speak, yeah. But most kids don’t get to have a ‘secret’ language with their parents.}

Ted understood. But he also didn’t get it at all. His childhood wasn’t like that at all.

{It actually sounds like you had it better than a lot of kids.}

Brandon nodded.

{I can’t complain. She taught me a lot about persistence. That was her biggest lesson, you know how they can get. Always trying to teach you something.}

Ted ignored the continuing differences between their parents. He was too busy ‘repeating’ and reversing the word ‘persistence’. He knew what it meant. He’d seen it in his ASL dictionaries but he hand’t used it very much. After three sets, he popped his thumb and looked up.

Brandon had stopped walking and was eyeing him.

Ted could only put up with it for a few seconds.


Impatience didn’t translate well in many mediums but hastey hands and violent muscle contractions really made it pop when Ted could push it enough. He wasn’t angry. He just didn’t like being stared at.

Brandon looked like he was trying to figure something out before he started moving his arms.

{You remind me of her.}

Ted got a pat on the head. Then Brandon continued to walk.

Struck by the strangeness of the statement, he had to stand still for a second. He started walking slowly at first, then jogged. He caught up to Brandon and tapped him on the shoulder.

{You know, I’m not too sure I’m comfortable with reminding you of your mother.}

Ted’s face was gravely serious as he continued.

{It’s the bra, isn’t it? Not hip enough. I knew I should have wore my black one.}

They both broke into laughter. Ted liked to laugh, though he didn’t know wether he could actually call it laughing anymore. When he came out of the hospital those years ago, it’d hurt like hell to even eat. It felt like a cruel joke that food, drinks, and worse yet, jokes, gave him so much pain. When his throat healed a little more, things were easier. He had to learn to laugh again. He was a quick learner with that, at least.

Brandon was exceedingly good at it. Just like he was with everything else.


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 04/29/2011, in Projects, Speechless, Speechless, Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I like the addition of the brackets to mark signed speech. I think you did a good job of breaking it up with speech tags so that the reader knows who’s ‘talking.’

    The playful banter was definitely good. It felt very natural.

    And since you demand something to fix – here: “He seemed a little to eager to grab him.” (to -> too)

    Also, here’s my favorite line from this chapter: “Like stuttering, but with your whole body.”

    And one think that I was a little confused on is the beginning of this paragraph: “He was more comfortable with multitasking, with signing in general. He’d been doing this for a lot longer.” I wasn’t sure if this was Ted or Brandon. Not sure if it really needs changed – it could just be that A.) I’m brain-dead, and B.) It’s 2:00 AM!

    Anyway, loved it. Can’t wait to

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