She gives you a pad of paper.
– There’s a pen if you
You have your own. The ink flows easier from your rollerball.
– We’ve discussed writing.
You’re half listening now. You know. You’d tried. Sat down and tried. Have spent years sitting down trying to write. On trains. In cafes. In libraries. Last time you sat was at the weekend, the cursor flashing on a white screen. Single sentences. Sometimes just individual words. That’s all you’ve managed.
You take the pen. You begin. Sentences are short, clipped. It reads like a police report. All in the past tense. Distancing yourself. Until halfway down the page it becomes present tense, and you smell the smells, that sharp stench, and the hairs on your arm prickle as your breathing speeds and you slowly try to take control of it. Counting. Breathing out for twice as long as you breathe in. You fidget, you feel tears on your cheeks.
The sentences break down. Lose grammar. No structure. Eventually your writing spiders across the page. Individual words. Just words. Full stops.
Three, four times.
You look at the shape of the words on the page, don’t reread. Two long paragraphs. Now, single sentences occupying only a third of a line and you see the structure of each. Questions.
“Why” did this?
“Why” did that?
You stop writing.
I start to cry.
For you, then.