He's done it before: left me alone in his apartment. But I haven't done this—until now. It's not as if these boxes haven't always been filled with photographs; it's not as if these leather notebooks weren't always filled with his handwriting; it's not as if the evidence hasn't been lying around, out in the open, just begging for a little attention. But today the itch to explore is a little too itchy, and I guess our love is a little too, uh, lovely—so I'm not even waiting for him to leave.
Soon, my heart is racing.
I can feel my neck pulsing, blood rushing to my face. I'm frozen, but not numb. I try to forget what I just saw and what I now know. But I'm shaking, and my limbs feel stiff and weighted. My feet are glued to the floor, my body to the chair. The secrets I've unleashed knock against my insides.
It's a familiar feeling: I know I've found the goods, but I don't have time to examine them as carefully as I want to, because their owner is either asleep in bed next to me, or, in this case, in the next room, playing the piano. It helps when he's occupied with something that makes a distinctive noise. When it stops, I can jump away from the scene of the crime. A trained eye such as mine needs only an instant to detect the words worth holding onto, the words I'll trade for eating and sleeping. I may look at them for only a nanosecond, but I'll never forget them.
They can be nouns, verbs, adjectives; even conjunctions can be very telling. But they're usually words like love, f*cked, with, lie, sad, serious, hot, beautiful, forever, girl, or—in this particular instance—names like Tina, Meredith, Nicole, Betsy, Jennifer, Marguerite, Katarina. Of course, my name appears, too, as TB, the cryptic initials of a nickname my parents gave me when I was a toddler.
An experienced jump-reader can piece together sentences, thereby discovering sentiments within the patterns of what I call Big Words. These words aren't big in the intellectual sense. But they're concrete—and that's what makes them big. There's no denying the significance in a sentence that jump-reads, "Dear Jennifer… This is a love letter…"
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