H. M. L. Swann
Day 37: A Conversation
300 Days of Writing
Day 37 A Conversation:
She wrote him a letter, bound in tape and written in charcoal.
She used her saliva to wet the pages, turning them over and over in her hands until her skin turned grey from the carbon pencils and the paper, soft.
When he received her letter, on a rainy Tuesday morning, he stood out in the rain. He watched as water pooled on the silver duct tape, like droplets of dew. He licked them off and didn’t go inside until he heard a dog start barking.
Indoors, he brewed black tea with milk and salt and sat near the window, a chill from the glass made him shiver, and he sipped his tea for comfort. Slowly, he peeled the tape away from the paper. His long nails slid between the adhesive and the parchment, ripping occasionally, but he was well practiced at their form of communication. His tea was cold by the time he unfurled the letter.
She had written to him of the noises, descriptions of moving leaves, chomping tea, smacking lips, and hushed breaths. As he read her words, he heard, not the sounds she described, but her voice, harsh, nasal, and lovely.
He took a stick of red wax and melted it over a lighter. His calloused thumb didn’t feel when the flame licked too close. He let the wax dribble between his fingers, dripping onto the page until several uneven lines formed. Taking a safety pin, he scratched out his response. He told her a story. Of a lonely dog, that barked when danger was near, but no one ever listened.
He took time to detail the sounds of the bark, the guttural cries from a canine’s throat. How spittle would spray from its drooping jowls. How a hollow howl spoke to its heritage, and to mans’ quest to find a friend.
He sealed his letter in twine, tying knots he’d learned as a boy scout, and then he threw it out his window.