The sun approaching noon, skies clear, a blue, crisp, a blue, pristine . . . sky unspoiled by humidity, dry today, as dry as sand, today, cliche sky, blue, nearly 0% humidity, you know—no clouds to speak of except thin wisps of cirrus . . .
What Ms. Stephens says, she says with pen and paper, often times though thinking out loud in her room overlooking the hill down to her neighbor’s garden, the woman working there alone in the morning shade. Ms. Stephen’s on occasions sees her and says hello under her breath behind her window. She does so without much conversation, no one carrying on in her head as sometimes she imagines others carrying one their speech with each other, thinking to herself once oil a while, aloud, how others must speak too much, too often. Speech is ephemeral. If speech is so, what then is writing?
Is there permanence fun writing? What were the original intentions of writing, especially alphabetically?
Who wrestles with himself except in the dark? She asked. She did. She said, himself. Who knows what he knows, his way among people too strange for him to see himself in, she said, To see himself through? What reflections, those refractions, friends and loved ones are prisms for our light? She asked. Is that true? She paused. What then should anyone sampan this topic? She imagined herself a member of a group of women who would meet once a month to talk very seriously about serious things–subjects, topics–what were the trending topics of discussion for most persons? She would have asked this way, said this, persons.
She said something about how the woman down the hill must not be very happy, all the time spending so much time in the garden, always there the times Ms. Stephens looks out her window, how many times? You might ask. What was it to say these things about the woman whose name she did not even know. And how many times did Ms. Stephens look put her window down the hill to the garden of the lady at the foot of the hill.
I know what she’s said, what she’s tried to say in other words not often with clarity, pone could say–I did not. I recollect her having said the same, words repeated often, monkey hear, monkey say. It was an afternoon in Madrid, the temperature was 112F, we were on our way to the Prado. It was the day we saw the Goyas that were called Black, Ms. Stephens said. I do get to say what she said, what she has chosen to say I then choose to relay.
What else was it that Ms. Srephens was going to say on the subject of being a fool, something she did and at other times did not count herself as one, a fool, yes, she said, The fool denies all in losing the arsenal of his fear, my fear, I have said before that fears are not to be rejected but held close, understood, I should have said stood under, she said.
Angular features–she had sharp features but an uncommon what some might call beauty, yet others an unusual attractiveness, either of course admitting that her good looks were both uncommon and unconventional.
She said, The fool’s question begs why, why, all the time asking why, why, why once again, he asks with conviction, knowing no doubt as to why he should ask his question why. Every fool faces what he needs to see the way he sees foolishly, seeing what he needs to face, when? Ms. Stephens asked, would ask again. She asked, How could it be otherwise for the fool but to see as he knows he sees what he needs to see the way he has said to himself time and again and again, no gain, the ironies we speak without knowing them . . . nothing is the same, ever the same, identical has nothing to do with identity in spite of what every father thinks for his son. But what is the same; truth finds its expression in tautologies, I am I; I am you? Puzzled.
Are you, you, yourself, who you are to you, only you, never to anyone else, how could that be, for you or for me to be what either of us could be to anyone else, only what we are to ourselves? She asked, did not ask, might have thought what else to say . . . she paused. Who are you in the mirror that you are not in my eyes? She asked, seemed as if she wanted to know really badly, as if she could not wait for a reply, she would not even venture to expect an answer . . . she paused again. No one knows who I am, I am certain, she said.
She then said, I watch a seagull on the sands matted by the wakes sweeping the sands again and again; low-tide; I stand and watch him run up to the water’s edge and then rapidly retreat from each on-coming wake . . . it is not summer unless I spend a week in Montauk. Waves come; I stumble; I totter and almost fall as my feet are sucked under the surf’s sands, rapidly rushing, the wake of a wave back to the sea . . . to see or not to sea, what I see in the sea I see with my eyes closed, primordial, foreboding, I used to imagine was the ocean, fear of the unknown keeping the night light on. I am so glad that I have more than a nightlight on in my head.
She stopped, imagining she was only going to pause and then continue. She did not continue. She put her pen down. She closed her journal. She picked up the copy of Sterne’s Tristram Shandy that was on the reading table next to the chair she was sitting in writing. She did not open it. In a few moments, She put it back from where she picked it up.
Instead of reading the book she wanted to read, she picked up her journal and pen and sat on the chair in the room she had made for herself, a room of her own where she could write or read or look out the window or nap or knit. She decided she wanted to write a story about a woman not so unlike herself, only what would the plot be, what could she say about this woman not so unlike herself. She wondered if plot was really necessary.
The morning minutes were approaching the hour noon; the sun about to enter the zenith . . .
She put her pen down. She closed her journal. She put it on the table by her chair. She walked to the window and looked out onto the roofs below the hill on which her house stood. She took a breath, an audible one.
She stepped back a step. She closed the curtain. She turned and went for the door. She said to herself under her breath that she was hungry.
She wanted lunch.
She went to her kitchen to make lunch.
She made lunch.
She ate lunch. She did the dishes and cleaned up after herself.