This one is a (more or less) normal title istaken from Chris de Burgh's "Missing you." Rather suits the mood of the story.

More than words can say

I suppose you could also call this "Why It Takes Me Three Days To Write A Four Hundred Word Letter." It's too clumsy for a title, though, and too long for the whole thing to show up in the subject box of the e-mail, so it will just remain a subtitle of sorts. That is, if I don't just delete it in the end. Maybe I will.

The hardest part would be starting the letter in the first place. Not getting around to responding to it; that's easy. Usually. Grab the computer when no one else is on, which is more often than not, really. Bring up the last e-mail you sent—they have their own folder, you know, but I usually keep them in my inbox until I respond to them. Reread it, of course, grinning like an idiot halfway through the first paragraph because you have a knack for making me smile, even when (I think) you're not trying, and I wonder if I do the same thing. Click reply—obviously.

Things get tricky after that.

How to start it? Hello? Classic, but slightly formal. Adding your name brings up memories of elementary school letters, the ones where you have to make sure the first letter of the first paragraph is perfectly aligned with the second 'l' of hello, using a ruler if you're a real perfectionist. Same goes for "dear", except the letter is under the 'r' and, in any case, it reminds me of the letters I used to get in my birthday cards from my mom's side of the family. I miss you; how are you? Maybe, but probably not this time. How many letters to you have I started like that? That was a rhetorical question, of course; going through some forty-odd letters at once is a bit ridiculous, and what's to say you kept them all?

So, scrap the traditional beginning. It isn't as if it would be impossible to figure out that this is a letter without it. (The title, if nothing else, gives it away.)

Maybe choose a subject heading. "Hey" works. We've done that before. Punctuation, too—ellipses and question marks, but never any of the more bizarre (or common). I could do something silly, like "Hey, I was Hooked On Phonics," except I really don't know just what Hooked on Phonics is, so I won't do that one. At one point we had a little narrative running in the subject headings, which went off on a tangent, decided to pick a different line, differentiated itself and then added a square root for the hell of it.

Leaving the subject until later seems like a good idea, too.

Scroll down in the text box, ignoring the irritating angled brackets. Respond, (in)adequately to a comment that made me smile especially wide (you keep telling me to smile more), or laugh (that too), or simply wish that I'd been there to see it. Answer any question you might have asked, though I'll never know if I told you enough, or too much, or if I misunderstood, or if you only asked to be polite and will just skim through my reply. Months of increasingly length correspondences will put a drain on conversation topics—will we run out in another month or two? Maybe it's just the letter that matters, not the content.

(Even if that is(/n't) true, I still think having you around would be better.)

But I don't know that, and I don't want to seem silly and dull, so I'll tell you about something that happened. Not that that doesn't pose its own problems.

I went to the library Friday—you know the one, with that weird bump for a sci-fi/fantasy section and the sort of-sofas on the walls—to pick up my holds for the extended essay, which has irritatingly extended itself into my subconscious so that I worry about it at unusual times. I've said that before, though, haven't I? Anyways, story…

It was raining when I left. Not pouring; I would have stayed inside if that were the case. Just drizzling, so I took my glasses off to keep them from getting all spotty and set off home. I usually don't like having them off—somehow, seeing indistinct shapes composed to colours blurring together and not being able to see faces from too far away doesn't appeal to me. But you know, or knew, the feeling.

When it's just rained, or still is raining, though, I like having my glasses off for just those reasons. Pine trees become green and mist-enshrouded figures, and the smells of damp earth and wood chips and pine are more enjoyable than clearly defined edges in this dreamlike world. Other trees, leaves still summer-green, drip water that catches sparse rays of sunlight like diamonds, or glass diamonds, since they shatter once they hit the ground. The world becomes the backdrop of a painting that is not quite anything that I know, but something I would be proud to claim as my creation, or even just my possession. I wonder how I would have looked in this maybe-painting, with my ponytailed hair running to frizz and my stack of books clutched to my chest. To be honest, I think the painter would have waited until I went by to continue his work. Maybe he'd let me sit next to him and watch as he painted.

Writing about it, I remember the smells, the taste of damp in the air, the feel or raindrops. And therein lies the problem. Do you care? Why should you? I write about it because you say you miss the rain, and I hope that writing about it makes you remember that there's more than just storm and bone-dry on the spectrum of weather. But maybe you just tolerate it because its part of the letter, and its (maybe) the letter that matters. I take that chance every time I write to you.

And by this point, of course, it's been two or three days, a week if I've been particularly absentminded, a day if I've focused, and I've settled down to write you once more. After all, you always have the right words, and the right timing, and I want to do the same thing, even though I'm never sure if I've done it quite right. You make me want to write just to hear that you liked it. That makes sense, at least—if men have attractive young women as muses, shouldn't a (debatably) attractive young woman have a male muse?

That was long, and rambly, and will put me in mind of that one line from Ella Enchanted every time I think of it. I've sent it to you before. "In my first letter I had hoped to impress you with my brilliant prose, but that will have to wait for my second." Except by now we've reached rather more that two letters, and I've resigned myself to the fact that my impressive prose shall have to be my fictional prose, not my letter-writing technique.

So. Time to start.

How are you? I miss you.

(Maybe the classic beginnings have something to them…)