We do it silently. We do it without really even looking. There’s just the expanse of us, blank, waiting.
I turn my back first. On the wall I watch the squares of sunlight move, wobble, as though the world outside is nervous and new. We are old hands at this now. We know the curves of letters much better than the Morse Code of our beginnings.
We started with constellations. Never the Plough. We used bears and swans and lions. And then we made up our own. Stairways and bumper cars and flowers. From there we progressed to seasons, the weather. He tapped out hailstones, gentle, all along the curve of my spine. I covered him in cloud all across his shoulder-blades. We got good.
And then came the first soft swoops of the alphabet. From “h” and “i” on to “l” and “o” and “v” and more vowels and more consonants until our backs were filled with invisible scribblings.
He places his palm flat, signalling the space between a word. His breathing is quick. “M”, and slowly now “a” and then “r” and he thinks I haven’t got it, because he repeats that one. And then the tickly curl of a “y”. Palm flat. “M”. “E”. Palm flat. “Question mark”.
I let what he’s written sink in and turn slowly. He already has his back turned to me.
Palm flat. I breathe. My finger traces lightly the letter I want to write. And then, more definite, I begin making a “Y”.