Someone once asked James what his favourite punctuation mark is. A young lad - and how that term, lad, makes him think of warm smiles and pints and exasperation - from the case they’re working on; curled up with a book half sketches and half words. Held together by a mess of cynicism and hope; a contradiction, taking solace in long dead poets and still-living souls.
Six years ago, he wouldn’t have acknowledge the question.
Four years ago, he would have said something flippant, some wry remark or plucked quote - deep but not revealing. Hiding behind somebody else; who they think he should be.
A year ago… he supposes he would have flicked his eyes to the right, his left; wondering if there is a mark that can sum up everything he feels. Sometimes he thinks there should be - words are too clumsy, too heavy, too easily misread.
“Sometimes, they show where something is missing, a dropped letter; a consequence of not enough time. They can be possessive, of gaining or owning. Belonging, perhaps, at a push. They have duel purposes, they are two sides of the same whole, and they work together to make everything clearer, stronger, more reliable. Even when they should, perhaps, be opposed - something leaving (Val) and something else taking its place (him). Easily forgotten or misused or overlooked - but loved dearly by the few”
The boy nods. He doesn’t bother straightening his papers.