Fragments, Part I
February 28th, 2011

Whenever he found a spare moment, he would spend it writing.

When he was a schoolboy, his spelling had been atrocious, and he had spent many long hours writing line after line of vocabulary words after yet another disastrous spelling quiz.

Most people would have learned to loathe writing. Instead, he had learned to love it. When he sat to commit pen to paper, he would revel in a complete disregard for spelling, for grammar, and even punctuation. Sometimes he would use unlined paper, and text would flow up and down the page like some capricious mountain brook, determined to take no straight path when a crooked one would do.

He always wrote at the end of the day, and said that it was the most freeing part of his life, and guarded it more jealously than a secret lover.

Whenever she found a spare moment, she would spend it writing.

Over the years, she had written love letters, and essays, and letters to The Editor. She had written to pen pals, to great aunts, and to the hapless clerks of customer service at large faceless corporations.

She had strong views about makers of paper, and brands of ink, about styles of composition, and the Oxford Comma. If asked, she would say that writing was a lovely way to keep in touch, but that even more important was the way in which it helped her to know her own mind.

She had resolved early in life to never speak upon any subject unless she had written about it at least once, and had taken the time to form not just an opinion but an argument, to marshall her reasons and direct her passion.

She knew that one day, she would no longer see clearly enough to put pen to paper, her grip would would fail her, and time would pry the firm shape of the pen from her hand. She hoped that she would go senile before then, so that she could go to her grave without being able to remember a single day upon which she had been unable to write.

It was inevitable that they would one day meet, he for whom writing was the ultimate freedom, and she who drew so much structure from the shape of words on the page.

And it seemed so strange to others, that this singular act could be so central to each of them, but with such opposed motivations. As if for one of them the light was always fading from the evening sky, and for the other the dawn was just beginning to break upon a particularly moonless night.

Inevitable that they should meet, and that they should have a breathless whirlwind romance, that seemed fated by the stars.

And just as inevitably, they parted, as violently as a thunderstorm, and as finally as the shattering of a mirror, sending tremors through their lives in every direction with consequences long after, as the sweetness of a daily ritual was now tinged with the memories of the other's interpretation of this very private act.

"She insisted she use lined paper," he recalled. "He cared notihng at all about the contrast between paper and ink," she lamented.

You could still see it when they wrote, how she could no longer bear to be watched, and he would look furtively over his shoulder to make sure that he was unobserved.

Neither quite realized that when they had found each other, they had lost the one great love of their life.