Everything I do these days, it seems, is marked with inadequacy. I will claw desperately for something to busy myself with. Once I have it, I stare. I listen to the world fall away around me. I’m wrapped in inaction, fear moulding itself to me like gauze soaked through with anaesthesia and pressed unsympathetically to my skin.
I only know how to speak, and boy, am I good at it. “Fire away,” I dare. “Fire away.” I give nothing away. The future is ridged with the familiar regret of my being fucking stupid enough to let this happen again, again. The future is already my mistake. It bears down on me too fast, too harsh, and I do not move because I have long forgotten how.
It’s in an unlikely dating game that I find brief solace. It’s usually only my own face I examine in cruel mirrors, but here, I become accustomed to the curves, the elegance, and the wistfulness of typography. Letters present themselves to me, petals to be pulled from a flower to expose its sad, yellow heart.
I choose for myself Adobe Garamond Pro, my own High Renaissance man. I do not read his biography. I care not for his history; I care only if he can help me probe my own. I pair him with the backtalking Futura, who I imagine to be my achingly angular counterpart, dressed in thick black eyeliner and secret, sardonic angst.
It doesn’t work out.
“Sorry,” the dating game tells me. It never works out.
At this point, I have become accustomed to morphing into other people. I cut my own hair, watching flat strands fall unceremoniously into the bathroom bin. Reapply my lip gloss, let the cold clothe me. I shape the vessel but don’t know how to fill it. I fake life and I never quite rise.
And now, I am drawn to playing out numerous existences as the guts of words. I become a girl again, playing with dolls, matching together puzzle pieces, experimenting with shades of ugly. I marry the sickeningly girly Archer to Avenir’s fake grin and think, fine, have each other. The limbs of Glypha fit neatly, satisfyingly, into Univers’ straight spine. I engineer dreams of the heart and plot aesthetic nightmares. I think on how close I came to complementing so many people, and I marvel at the nature of things. You know how it works out, sometimes, so rarely in the areas you’d expect.
I see harmony in wine labels. Travel guides. Bed-and-breakfast signs, creaking quietly in strong rural winds. Clay cities melt, pleasantly, into the night.
“Fire away,” I whisper. “I have nothing.”
I don’t know how to play the word game in life. I have abandoned the dating game. But in these letters, in their imagined lives, I have found a brief escape from my own stiffening prose.