She is not the same person she was. On some level, she understands that something fundamental had changed. Words can be roads, bridges that connect A to B. But words can also be walls that separate and isolate. Words can be both things at the same time. A word can have more than one meaning. A word can have opposite effects. He said, “time off”. She heard “time off”. The dictionary describes “off” as “away from the place in question; to or at a distance”. So, why did “time off” came out of his lips as a road, and got to her ears as a wall?
We tend to trust dictionaries. She did. What reason would she have not to? The words contained in a dictionary are a dogma. But now she found herself questioning this rigid notion encased in this hard box we call a dictionary. Does “off” have the same meaning for him that it has for me?
He was very confused. He merely suggested an innocent truce. I was hard to believe that they knew each other for so long, but now they were complete strangers to each other. They grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same school and shared many friends. But right now, they spoke two different languages. English can be tricky that way. Words are not constrained by the meaning that a dictionary assigns them. They take new forms as we assign content and context to them. He was learning that the hard way. A misunderstanding? That would be an understatement. He meant what he said, but he was sure he didn’t mean what she heard.
Neither one of them could summon the courage to bring it up again. They kept frequenting the same places, the same friends, the same spaces. But something was radically different. Their relationship changed. They were different.
The space between them grew larger with time, a gap increasingly harder to bridge. Words could have brought them back together, but once the distance was too great, they had the opposite effect. They used them as a weapon to hurt each other. His, were blunt and heavy, like a mace. Relentless. With a heavy head that delivered powerful blows. Hers were sharp and acute, but not like a sword. More like barbed wire. A fence that surrounded her in every direction. A defense mechanism that both protected and isolated her at the same time. No one was allowed inside. She couldn’t get out either.
With time, he got used to it. Others around him shared the same code, the same language. His words connected him to the people around him.
She, on the other hand, grew apart from everyone around her. A castaway in a lonely island. Her only escape was to find a way out to a foreign place where a (metaphorically) different language was the norm. In time, she also found other allies. People who shared her language, but not her origin.
That afternoon, when they ran into each other again, the distance that separated them gained a life of its own. A cold and distant greeting was followed by polite, meaningless small talk. And, on the surface, everything might have seemed fine. But tension was building up. One word out of place and that delicate balance between politeness and tension would crumble, giving place to a new war of words.
¨How are you? I haven’t seen you around here in a while”, he said. “The days are evil, and I have to make the best use of my time”, she replied. So he said: you ain’t got no talent…
I’d like to ask my classmates what do they think about the story, if it’s easy to read, and what would they change about it?
My favorite things about the fanfic are the tone of the story, the remaining mysterious circumstances that drove them to the current situation and the possibilities that are still open.
I’m not so sure about the language in general, and if maybe I should be more specific about details about the characters and their past.