I’d watched her before, sitting at a the tiny table by the window, scraps of paper spread out around her coffee cup (the reusable cold drink sort), head in her hands staring off to some middle space between the world outside the front window and a world some place much further away.
She might sit, slouched over, lost, still for minutes. Then suddenly, all would be motion. Scanning the splayed out pages, flipping back and forth in a notebook she always carried. Then she would start to write; pen furiously racing across the pages in a St. Vitus dance.
The jerky dance might continue, picking up in speed, until it there was a frenzy of words spilling over onto the floor, floating above her head, so filling the café, they threatened to suck all the air and life stories out of the other patrons.
And, just at that moment when there wasn’t room for her and her words, the frenzied dance of pen and paper slowed and stopped. She might read back over what she’d written, editing with head shakes and ink slashes. Or she might disappear into the space that connected her with word worlds.
One day, running late for an appointment, I got my coffee to go. When I walked in, she was in her usual corner window spot, head bent low over her masterwork. She had stopped, it seemed, in mid-sentence, pen hovering over the paper. Gently laying it on the table, she grabbed her cup to get a refill.
I casually took the long way round to the door and snuck a peak at her masterwork. The notebook and scattered pages were covered in a shorthand that only she could understand.