February 12, 2015 Comments Off on Magic of the Mundane By David Joez Villaverde
At first glance, it was just an odd scrap of paper, floating around, camouflaged in the debris on my desktop. It was an irregular hexagon that resembled a boot, less than Peru but more than Italy. Somewhere west of Milan, near the mouth of the Po, she had written MUSIC FOR HILAR but then franticly scratched it out in heavy strokes of blue ball point pen. Her second attempt was directly underneath it, a shyer edition of the defaced original. In a thin sleek black font MUSIC FOR HIL could be read with an underline for emphasis. Why had she switched pens? Why had she crossed out and abandoned her first attempt, I wondered, digging in the white space between the words, looking for answers.
At first I suspected that she had merely run out of room and was forced to truncate her own name. But the more I studied the note, the more its intentions spoke to my intuitions. Maybe it wasn’t the constraints of space that caused her to switch pens – or even a lack of ink – maybe she chose to do so. Maybe it was a message. I pictured her with the hesitance of a scribe, her hands hovering over quills, waiting for the right one to speak to her. I pictured her proceeding with precision, raising the plume diligently to abbreviate her name. She was inviting me into her desires, in what would surely appear to the uninitiated as just an idle list, on an odd scrap of paper, discarded on my desk. I studied that little sheet for days, pouring over each curve of each letter until my eyes bled and my tears stained the sacred papyrus. That was okay. I didn’t need eyes to see it anymore. I had etched a copy on the palm of my hand for safekeeping and would clap to scrutinize her words. Her capital B’s were strange. She carried the pen through the last loop almost forming baby O’s in the belly of the B’s. Her R’s were like glorified K’s wearing the hats of royalty, and her L’s . . . her L’s were my favorite. Her L’s undulated upwards as if the bottom refused to be glued down to the page. They were rebellious and beautiful little letters, waving each time my fingers passed over my scars. To decipher the details, I consulted books written by doctors and men of letters. I had studied to be a cryptographer as a child, and my years of training were finally being put to use. I applied anagrams and calques and codes but could find no answers. So I challenged scholars in the remote corners of the world, boasting of a reward to whoever could solve the mystery, but still could find no answers. And I’m still searching, carrying her note in my handshake, looking for an answer.
© 2014 David Joez Villaverde
David Joez Villaverde is a graduate of the University of Michigan who lives in Pittsburgh. He has recently been published in The Loyalhanna Review. His words can occasionally be found on http://www.schadenfreudeanslip.com