She gropes under her pillow and finds the book, all yellowed and poisonous. If she were to Idly flip through it she'd see stories written in classes, on the subway, sitting in Washington Square Park cooling her feet in the fountain. These things would strike her and she'd go scrambling for pen and paper, desperate to get them down before whatever it was that got her attention was replaced with something far more mundane, that guy caging cigarettes from the locals and money from the tourists, or the reflection of a store sign in a floating puddle of gasoline. Even those were throwaways compared to the contents of this little frayed book that she never reads.
The book was about her, stories unfolding over pages and pages of cramped, methodical text. She piled all these words together as a way of keeping herself centered - in the book she was honest with herself, and she made it her policy to never read what had come before when she found something to add. The idea of checking the past to write about the present seemed tarnishing and off, another little dishonesty.
There were other odds and ends living between the pages. White rose petals, an empty and flattened matchbook from a basement jazz club in the West Village, an unused bus ticket to Upstate New York, three glass beads, only slightly larger than grains of sand, from a roadside merchant in Italy, and a letter she had been too distraught to read until it had been too late. She wished she could forget the letter but it kept haunting her, sticking from the pages of her backstory like a syringe.
Once out her front door, the book under her arm and her cigarettes in hand, she sat in her little alcove, hidden from the street and rendered pale by the incandescent porch light. She smoked slowly, looking down at the cover of the motley collection of epiphanies and shallow moments perched in her lap. It felt like a textbook she would never use again, deadweight from a failed attempt at self-preservation, transparent and yet infinitely massive.
She opened the book, took out the letter and read it for the second time ever. She traced his words with her fingertips, imagined the ink being drawn up into her hands and making them burn with the sincerity of it, a sincerity she didn't at all see the first time through after he'd already been gone for a handful of days and nothing he said to her would have mattered in the slightest. It sure as hell mattered now.
When she lit the corner of the letter it burned the most frightful shade of red, the ink adding subtle overtones of green and lavender. His words boiled away, lost to the sidewalk in one shocking moment of self-directed rage.
The book was substantially lighter now, filled only with the words she wanted to remember.