Thursday, June 1

Right now I'm looking at a book: "Tremor: Selected Poems" by Adam Zagajewski. It contains short poems with titles like "Victory", "Betrayal", and "It Comes to a Standstill". But the poems are not what interests me. If I look at the cover at just the right angle to the light, I can see that someone had used this book as a surface on which to write a note, leaving the images of the letters impressed into the paper cover. Remember when Lebowski rubs a pencil over a notepad in the pornographer's apartment and comes up with cock? I can almost make out the complete message:

JEREMY
COULD YOU
PLEASE LEAVE
ME MY YYYYY
LOVE
JEN
XOX

I puzzled over the last word on the fourth line for a while, thinking it would tie the whole message together. As best as I can make out, it looks like it might be "WAMAN" or "WYNAN". It actually looks like that word might have been scratched out.

But after a certain amount of observation and deduction, I've come to the conclusion that that word doesn't say anything and was never intended to. The clue is the spacing of each line: except for the fourth, all the lines are spaced consistently. The fourth line, however, looks like it has been written in between the ones above and below, suggesting it was written after the rest of the message, but was jammed in for some reason. That line is even written differently from the rest: the impression is not as deep. So, this is how I see the note in its original form, the first draft, as it were:

JEREMY
COULD YOU
PLEASE LEAVE
LOVE
JEN
XOX

I envision Jen as a young woman, lying in bed, frustrated by insomnia. It's late at night and Jeremy is asleep beside her. Jen loves Jeremy, but mostly out of habit, and she knows that if he stays in her life much longer part of her will die. Perhaps she has met someone else, perhaps he has started drinking; something irreparable has come between them. In the weak light she grabs a piece of paper and a pen, and writes a note on the first book that comes to hand. She is rigid with emotion and fear, and her pen pushes deep into the paper. She wants him to leave, and the note she writes is plain and to the point, but betrays none of the anxiety she feels. In fact, the note is very like the countless other domestic messages she has left him and received from him in turn. This one, however, could end the years of pleasant romance she and Jeremy have spent together.

Moments later she recants. She is not prepared to break up with him this way. She does not rip up the note, worrying that he will wake. She can't throw it out the way it is in case he sees it. So she alters the note. But how? Calmer, she adds a line, turning the destructive into the domestic. It is now a simple request that Jeremy will see before he leaves for work. She scratches out a word and throws the note away, confident that even if Jeremy sees it, its original message would be disguised. She returns the books to the bedside table, shifts further under the covers, and tries again to sleep.

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