“Milk?” asked Pamela. George turned to her as if he had forgotten that she existed, his eyes wide and lips slightly parted with excitement. His eyes stared into hers with immense focus and he gave a nod, quick and barely perceptible. He turned back to the wall. Pamela placed a hand flat on his back as he wrote, feeling the muscles bunch and stretch with the movement of his arm. He stepped back, and she read what he had written in small, neat letters. “We need more milk.” He stepped back in and beneath that wrote, “I love you!” They were the words that he had never been able to say to her. The pen clattered to the floor as George grabbed his wife in an ecstatic hug and spun her around the kitchen. She giggled and he laughed. The strain of just moments before had melted away from his face and his smile glowed.
For the rest of the morning, the two of them experimented, seeking out the boundaries of George’s new-found ability to communicate. He tried once more to write on a sheet of paper, to no avail. He tried writing on the bathroom mirror with a marker, and then the window. The attempts to write a message on the sidewalk outside and on the exterior walls of the building were met with strange glances from passersby and were also ultimately unsuccessful. He tried writing on the wall in the building hallway. As each attempt resulted in a straggling, illiterate line, the haggard woe of earlier began to creep back into his expression. Attempting to write an e-mail on the computer produced a nonsense string of characters.
But he clung to his ability to write on the apartment walls. He wasn’t sure what the reasoning behind it was; perhaps it was the fact that it was a private space, or perhaps it was due to the fact that it was a place that he and Pamela had made into their own together. Regardless of the reason, George wrote. The next day, he spent the morning and most of the afternoon writing in the bedroom. He closed the door and turned the lock on the knob, and stood writing with complete focus, driven by the need to express himself. Pamela knocked on the door for lunch, but George didn’t answer. It was almost time for dinner when he finally came out, eyes bleary and looking exhausted. He cupped his hand under Pamela’s elbow and gently walked her to the bedroom. He left her at the door and walked back into the living room, where he laid down on the sofa and went to sleep.
Pamela walked slowly into their shared bedroom. The late sunlight streamed in through the one window, casting a glow across the surface of the bed, its covers rumpled from having been stood on, and also across the far wall, which was covered from ceiling to floor in George’s neat handwriting. The block of writing broke around the space occupied by the bed, and the sea of lines of text was dizzying in its scale. Pamela took off her shoes and climbed up on the bed, and began reading at the beginning, just below the join of wall and ceiling. She tracked the line of writing with a gentle finger; it would have been so easy for her to lose her place in all of those words. At the upper left corner, it began “Dearest Pamela; I hope that you’re not angry about my having marked up the bedroom wall so badly, but this was all so important to me, there was no way to go without having done it, and no better place where I would have been able to do it.” and what followed was a litany of adoration; it seemed that everything that George had wanted to say to her in the last year, since that day in the park, was enumerated here. As she read, sometimes she laughed, and sometimes tears swelled in her eyes and blurred the words; she had to wipe them away to continue. “I love that when you smile, your eyes sparkle.” “I love that one of your front bottom teeth is just a little crooked.” “I love how you look when your hair falls across your eyes in just that certain way.” And, “I love you for being kind and patient and generous and sweet and just for being you. If I had it all to do over, I would marry you again in a heartbeat. I would marry you once a day, every day, for the rest of my life. You have given me the most incredible gift, one that most people never get to experience; the knowledge that no matter what, I will never really be alone. I couldn’t imagine being with anyone but you.” Pamela read every single sweet word, and then she lay on the bed and hugged herself, relishing this feeling that she had waited so long for, surrounded by George’s writing.