Pamela had her own reasons for wanting to somehow clean the apartment walls of George’s words. She felt that his increasingly forlorn demeanor could only be improved by providing him with the security of knowing that he would still be able to write to her long into the future. His hauntedness was difficult to witness after the moments of exuberance that he had exhibited after he had started writing on the walls. But there was more to it than that. The visual noise blaring at her from every plane of every room of her living space wore on her. She felt an increase in tension from the moment that she walked into the home that was not relieved until the next time she left.
The weight of the sentiments borne in those words pressed down on her as well. The spoken word vanishes almost immediately after leaving the throat and entering the ear of the listener, like a snowflake on your cheek. But these written sentences lingered; all of the arguments, complaints, and petty sniping glared at her from the walls even after the conflicts themselves were long over. She worried that it was petty of her, to let the emotional contents of these obsolete words hit her over and over again, but she couldn’t figure out a way to stop it. Even the kind words gnawed at her. She was living every day of her life surrounded by George’s words, his voice, his demands; and though she loved him, what she wanted more than anything else was just the peace and quiet of a blank wall.
She discovered that despite his fears to the contrary, his inability to speak had actually made the relationship easier on her. She had known the core of him, his passions, his ferocity, and his gentleness, and she loved these things. Before he lost his voice, she had gotten to know his warmth, his intelligence, and his sense of humor. But she had never had to deal with the other things; the surface things. The layer of anxiety and insecurity and petty anger. Things he hadn’t been able to express with his eyes or his movement. And so now she was experiencing all of the irritation of having to deal with those things all at once, when they had never cropped up in the context of the relationship before.
And she knew she couldn’t ask him to return to silence. Not only would that leave him filled with things that he longed to express to her, his partner, but she feared that it would in essence seem a rejection on her part of him; of his thoughts, his interests, and his feelings. He loved being able to write on the walls so much that he would never understand how oppressive the writing had become to her over the last few months.
Although it appeared that figuring out how to stop him writing would soon be a non-issue. The walls of the apartment were indeed filling up. Each day found George searching for new places to write. He pulled the television and its stand away from the wall and wrote there. he realized that the backs of the cabinets were open to the kitchen wall, and pulled the dishes out of them and wrote there, too. It galled Pamela, because it seemed as though he were writing just for the sake of doing it, or as though he were experiencing some deranged compulsion to do so. There were times when he spent entire evenings looking at the walls, seeking out blank places and staring at them. Pamela knew he was committing them to memory, partly for later use, and partly because he just needed to know that he had more space.
These evenings, the evenings of the worst and most obsessive behavior, they made Pamela feel invisible.
“It feels like you don’t care about me anymore. It feels like you only care about the writing,” she told him. “I wonder sometimes if it even matters that I’m here.”
George shook his head and looked at her sadly, pleadingly. Then he turned to the wall and in a narrow blank space next to a door frame, he wrote, “don’t you know that the writing is only for you? There’s so much that I haven’t gotten to say to you.”
And on evenings like that, she would turn and walk away from him, and go to her only refuge. The one place in the apartment that hadn’t become filled with George’s words. It was incredible that he hadn’t ever remembered that this space was here; Pamela had no idea why he had overlooked it, and she dared not ask or mention it to him. She was sure that if she did, she would lose the only space in their home that was still truly hers. The closet in the bedroom had walls that were blessedly blank, and she would turn on the bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling and close the door. She would sit on the carpeted floor in this silent space, and she would cry quietly to herself, while George surveyed his writing on the walls of the apartment.