She hated blank pages like she hated the blankness of her life.
So she began by making marks – large, loose, gestural sweeps on the page. She then shifted from elongated serpentines to dense clusters of hash marks on the peripheries of the page – this reminded her of where the people who once cared about her were now in her life. She came to the middle of the page and drew one thick hyphen – this was she. She went on this way year after year, filling thick notebooks with serpentines, hash mark clusters, and hyphens. Winters came and went with the usual snow and white brutality. Summers flourished in oppressive greens. Yet she went on. Fifty summers passed as she assiduously made her marks and filled notebooks.
There was nothing else of use she could do.
It seemed as it was when she was a child and jumped from the bridge into that cold river. She watched people above her moving to and from their lives. The mornings filled with a flurry of black bowlers and slate fedoras – the afternoons a long procession of pursed lips and heavy eyes. Occasionally, a flash of brilliant blue or a fleeting smile, but it was mostly gray refracted above.
At the end she had stacked up thousands of notebooks from floor to ceiling. The notebooks filled her small apartment wall to wall. Then with this notebook she filled the last remaining slot of open space. As an opaque scrim spread itself across the sky she whispered, this is enough.
“Each story tells me how to write it, but not the one afterwards.”
– Eudora Welty