This, In Writing, To You
by Etan Nechin
As far as I am concerned, we gel. If left to our own devices, we could tip a tiny planet off its axis. So when you come in, using a shiny, new key, all that can be heard is my breath, heavy with night, and your feet tapping on the wooden floors.
You bring stuff with you, clothes and shoes and books you’ve written in. You put them neatly in one of my dresser’s drawer, which now becomes yours. We talk in bed. I talk about this and that; about stuff. You talk about spaces and closeness until your road-weary eyes close. I lay awake all night, thinking about what we will talk about over toast and coffee, but I fall asleep at5am, and sleep through until noon, which is your lunchtime, so all the stuff I wanted to talk about is left unsaid.
That is why I write love letters to you: So that every morning, I can leave something from me, with you, an unconsecrated nuptial, packed along with your lunch, in a brown paper bag, with your name on it, and not mine.
You go away, on a business trip. I don’t have business elsewhere. I stay put, at my desk, typing away, with one finger on the dial, because I know you have your finger on one as well. We talk on the phone. I talk about this and that; about stuff. You talk about patterns and forces. You ask me how I am. I sneeze into the speaker. You laugh, and your laugh sounds like a sneeze too. You tell me your flight number and that you’ll see me tomorrow, but I know it will only be the day after tomorrow, because it is pouring cats and dogs outside my window, even though it is sunny out of your window.
That is why I write love letters to you: Not because words are more sublime than touch, not because gestures are purer than a missed call, pregnant with longing. But because every day I will be able to shut the blinds, and shutter that world that makes us be apart, with its physics, and rain delays, and do my task with glee.
You need to go away, not on a business trip. You say it will be a while. After weeks that are measured not by days, but by phone calls, I come visit—I am air delivered to you. I put my stuff in your drawer, which now becomes mine. We spend a day in the hot springs. We get there by hitching a ride. I take photos of the scenery; you take photos of me taking photos of the scenery. We talk in the hot spring. I talk about this and that; about stuff. You talk about air and mass. In the hot springs, steam gets into my eyes; I can’t see you looking at me.
I make a mental note, to go to the market when we get back, so I can make you a birthday cake. But we spend all day at the springs, and I need to leave as soon as we get back, I leave you a birthday card with the recipe written on the back, but not a cake.
That is why I write love letters to you: So that truck drivers will deliver evidence of me, to you, and a humble mailman will place it at the foot of your doorstep, and knock on the wooden frame, because I cannot.
We miss each other’s calls. That is okay because that is how it works. We know that between here and there is time difference, and weather. We know that our drawers will stay empty, that we can’t fill them on our own anymore, and despite the emptiness it makes us happy, because these empty drawers expand, and become the sky, to which we can look up to, and talk about this and that; about stuff, and there is always something else to speak about—spaces and closeness, patterns and forces, air and mass—so much for us to know about each other, even though we cannot hear or see each other anymore.
That is why I write love letters to you: Because love changes more rapidly than the weather, its distance equals that of eternity, and can only be measured by its abundant absence, just like String Theory, which I know nothing about—but you do.
Etan Nechin is an Israeli born writer, currently living in Brooklyn, NY. His fiction and essays were published at ZYZZYVA, Apogee, Columbia Journal Potluck Magazine, MonkeyBicycle, Entropy, MutualArt and more. He co-wrote text for a performance, UTTER: The Violent Necessary for the Embodied Presence of Hope, which was shown at the 2015 Venice Biennale.