Paper

Why is putting pen to paper so difficult?

She’s read so many words on paper in the last two years. Perhaps that is why. It is a sort of ritual for her. And now she has an entire book filled with blank pages.

She doesn’t write with pen on paper, though. She always uses pencil, but today pencil will not do. With the utmost care, she tears a page from the notebook.

She begins. The awkwardness of this writing implement, so much more clumsy and unwieldy than what she is used to, slows her down.

She read something in one of the books the other day. How in one of the languages unknown to her, the word for spirit and the word for paper are very similar.

Sometimes she feels this entire place is inhabited by spirits. Spirits driving the airships, raising them up, dictating their fate. More and more angry, it seems, or at least capricious. Often merciful, though definitely ice or air spirits. Cold. Maybe from space, creatures that have not been discovered yet and move among us, learning and absorbing and affecting in small subtle ways.

She misses him, but it would not do to build up her life around him completely. He is in town and has not been to see her yet. Is he waiting for something? She is not sure. It would not do to call too often, but it would definitely do to write.

She cares about him.

She wants to write him this letter but no more words flow out of the pen onto the paper. It is terrifying to think that once the words are there, the spirit inside the paper will grow and take on a life of its own. This spirit will convey to him the words she wrote down, but perhaps something will be lost in translation. Perhaps he will not understand.

She must write it down.

She writes it down. Still, something is not quite right.

She sketches an airship for him.

There. Now the spirit in the paper is smiling.

She seals up the letter, dresses warmly, and drops it in a post box. On the way home she sees the cafe near the port is still open. A sign dangles tantalizingly. It seems a new shipment of herbs was brought in today. Tea, and lots of it, awaits.

The spirit in the paper is laughing from inside the post box. She walks into the cafe and closes the door behind her, shutting out its tinkling cries of glee.

Story © 2015 Clio Em.

Read all the other Airships stories here: clio-em.com/airships

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