chapter one

It began childishly, as so many of these things do. A record of the day-to-day angst. The blames, pointed fingers and whispered conversations of girls. Later, when she looked back on those few years, she would not remember the intensity of feeling. The awful indecision. She would only be embarassed at her inaccurate use of extravagant words. She kept none of the hardback notebooks she wrote in. They reminded her of the crippling self-consciousness of being 15.
As she grew older (and, as promised, it did get better as the years clicked by) she continued to write. But not in noteboks, on scraps of paper. The back of an old birthday card. Bus tickets, ragged handfuls of lined A4. She threw these away immediately. She had no desire to be reminded of yesterday's feelings.

The week after her 25th birthday she stopped writing. It was not a conscious decision. The words were pushed out of her head.

His relationship with words was uneasy at best. He spoke intelligently, but not eloquently. Secretly, he would like to be thought of as eloquent. But he could never bring himself to say the words aloud distinct, insufferable, unparalleled... the risk was what silenced him. He didn't want to stand out. He didn't want to be laughed at. He had a horrible feeling that the words lined up in his head would come out of his mouth somehow distorted distended, macabre, grotesque...

When they first met (casually, through a friend of his brother's) neither of them would have guessed these things of each other. He thought her cold and reserved. She thought him over-familiar and drunk. Neither suspected the depths they would glimpse over the subsequent months of courtship.

He, though sexually adventurous, was less experienced. He had slept with two women since he drunkenly lost his virginity at a stranger's new years party. One was his first proper girlfriend. Mentally, he salutes every time he thinks of her. They fucked infrequently and clumsily, and she left him the day after their final exams.
The second was a stunning and manipulative actress. The relationship lasted for two years, but should have ended before six months. It was unhealthy, and sex rose more from a cloying need for closeness than from physical desire.
He enjoyed being single, primarily because it meant he didn't have to shower daily.

She had been promiscuous as a teenager, but had never had a 'lover' in the idealised sense. She had never had the opportunity to enjoy sex. She didn't know it, but it occasionally kept her up at night.

So their relationship began tentatively, with as much reassurance as flirting. When eventually they did share a bed she wept afterwards, once he was asleep, because she thought she loved him.

He woke early, before she did, and crept into the kitchen to make coffee. In the dark he collided with a bin in the hallway, scattering paper, used tissues and food packaging over the floor. Then fumbling for a lightswitch, cramming handfuls of rubbish into the plastic bin, trying not to wake any of the irritable flatmates.
Sitting in the kitchen ten minutes later, coffee brewing, he realises he still has a scrap of handwritten notepaper in his hand. The fact that he reads it could reveal one of several things about him. It could show that he loves the thrill of invading secrecy. It could show that he deeply wants to know more about her, and anything in her handwriting draws him like a magnet. It could show that the coffee is still in the pot, and he's too tired to think before he reads it.
Still clutching the piece of paper, he walked into her bedroom and shut the door behind him. She stirred at the noise, and opened her eyes. As he kissed her, she put her arms around his neck and pulled him onto the bed. He dropped the paper to the floor, and they made love again by the thin light shining through the curtains.

Every day after that, he wrote page after page of his thoughts. She wrote none at all.

No comments: