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padPhotograph by Tom Haynes:

Dear Starkness, my old friend,

You weren’t so desperate when we first met. Your body was pregnant with the possibility of adventure. All I had to do was think and you came to life. So eager were you to expose the markings of my ink that I turned red. Now when I try, everything comes out stale. You ruined it. You made me your everything just so you could stare blankly into space while I tried. And I tried so hard.

– a crimson pen

The Word Processor


My first word processor was Word Perfect and true to the name, she was always perfect to me. 

Every morning when I was six I would scramble up the stairs to where the family computer was so that I could tell her all the things that were on my mind. I wrote about my dreams, my sisters, and stories about animals. She listened patiently, never arguing about the facts. Instead, she was merely interested in my voice. Although rarely did she speak to me, I did not feel our relationship was one sided. She gave to me what I needed – an open willingness to accept. In return I gave her dreams. Together we created worlds and when no one was looking, we could escape together into fantasy.

When I grew older, instead of the sweeping fairy tales we used to have, our relationship became dark. Poetic words of hatred or longing filled our days together. This went on for a long time until one day I did the thing that I thought I would never do. I exploited her. I showed her vulnerability to other people. What was once a private moment between pages, became public and displayed for all to see. I called it a blog, she called it pressure. 

It was then that our friendship started to fade. At first I went a few days without seeing her, but then it became longer. Soon whenever we met, there was the understanding that great things were to come. When we did not always meet expectations, I saw the blueness in her face complete her. She was overtaken by it. I resigned, saying that she was too much and that we would have to break up. 

The breakup was hard. It was probably harder for me than it was for her. When I wrote her a letter, her openness was all I needed. We started swapping stories. This time we wrote for our friendship. For our life together. When we no longer cared so much about the other people in life, our intimacy came back in strong waves of italic.  

Once again I made our relationship public. This time, the pressure was off. If she didn’t want to be seen, she wasn’t. If she wanted to venture out, she could. Although some of what we say might not be private anymore, I have come to recognize that the relationship a writer has with the word processor is one that reads between the lines. The most important line, being the connection that keeps us open.