So there was this boy and this girl, and they’d never met. They’d never spoken to each other or even seen each other. But one day the girl wrote a letter to the boy.
The boy was lying in bed one morning when the letter arrived. He heard the postman, and he hoped it might be one of the songs he’d sent off somewhere coming back with some good news. All that turned up though was a letter from his friend from school, who’d gone off to art-college in Dundee. But the letter had another letter inside it, in another envelope, and that was the letter from the girl.
And they began to write to each other a lot, the boy and the girl. And for a long time one of them would get a letter everyday. They wrote about everything; about themselves and about the world. And they wrote their own world. And they lit the whole thing up.
And after a while they began to meet up in the world where other people live. Quite nervously, and only about once a year. And they would walk around just watching things; laughing at stuff that happened. They didn’t talk too much, they’d already said most of what they had to say in letters, and they were shy. And at the end of those rare days the would both go back to their own cities, and write about how good their day had been, and say some of the things they hadn’t said at the time. And light the whole thing up.
And then life began to happen to them; their separate lives in their separate cities. But although they wrote a little less often they wrote still just as long, about their lives, and how the world was coming into their world. And they kept going till they realized they’d been writing for seven years. And because they had once written themselves a beach, on which to dream themselves together, they decided that to celebrate they’d have another one of their rare days, and for it they would go to a beach. And in his last letter before they went the boy wrote, “It’ll be good, and if you want you can take my bony hand along the shore.”
And so they went, and they could talk a little bit more by then. They could talk okay. And they spent some money in the arcade at one beach, and at another beach they built a town out of sand and shells. And the girl drew out a puzzle on the wet sand; a puzzle she’d been trying to solve in a dream the night before. And they walked out and stood on the edge of the sea there for a while, and when they turned around to walk back to the road the boy said, “Do you want to take my hand?” and the girl said, “Take it where?”. And although he afterwards thought he should have said, “Everywhere”, he only just mumbled.
“My hand’s very cold.” the girl said as he took it. And as they walked up the beach the boy said, “We only have to do this until we reach the dry sand, then we can stop.” And for a bit they walked in silence. And although in more than a thousand letters they had talked of the stars, and of rivers, and of love- and woven a hundred dreams, all they could think of to talk about was a tree in a garden on the other side of the road; how tall it was, and how out of place it looked. And when they came to the dry sand they didn’t let go of each other’s hand, they just walked on up the beach, still talking about the tree. And they stepped over the fence and onto the pavement, falling quiet again. And as they walked along the pavement they came to a pole, and walked one on either side. And they let go their hands…