They were close friends, without ever having spoken a word. They met daily, coming together beneath the shade of the towering oak, the only tree still standing in the park near both of their homes.
She was a young girl who questioned the world with her eyes, and he an old man who had lived through many wars and no longer had any questions to ask; yet they rarely acknowledged these differences. They would sit, she cross legged with her back supported by the web of roots, and he on the single wicker chair placed there for exactly that reason. Then they would wait, watching passers by and thinking their own unique thoughts. They would watch the afternoon sun fall into an evening sun, and eventually disappear as the moon claimed its place. They would watch lights turn on in all the houses facing the park, and they would watch faces appear and disappear as people glanced out their windows to ensure there was still a world at all.
The streetlights would come flickering into life, illuminating the oak tree and the two people who still sat beneath it, partly hidden behind shadows which lay gently over everything.
Then the girl and the man would begin to write their stories. They each came with a notebook and a pen, and in the little light falling across their laps they would record their days thoughts. He liked to list- His angers, his fears, his groceries, his friends. She liked to describe, frequently caught off guard by stray thoughts which demanded to be recorded, too. Her writing ended up a web of connected ideas spilling from line to line, and his was confined to bullet points and headings.
They wrote for an hour. The moon was higher in the sky. To the family walking by, the world was dark and dead with night.
They would exchange journals at this point without saying anything, simply passing the pages with the rustle which accompanies such a movement. They read, in equal silence, until their minds had absorbed the words and their eyes could return to the world.
It was then that everything looked different. Her chaotic and colourful world had faded to black and white, all the details which had been out of focus becoming sharp. She noticed things she had never seen before, the way the dew beaded on each blade of grass and the number of faces of the moon. She smiled.
For him, colour seeped into the black and white, colours he did not recognize and could not name. Details faded away but he could see the wind and taste the moon in the air. He smiled too.
They stayed in this way for what could have been seconds, or hours, or days. They admired their new worlds, afraid to move and disrupt the unique view they held. Each night it was slightly different; elusive, yet so very real, familiar, yet so very different, a feeling which no sounds could describe yet which transferred between them through their writings.
Then, slowly, they returned the journals to the respective owners, their respective worlds fading back to what they were accustomed to. They stood up.
If she focused, she could still see details in the grass and in the sky; and traces of colours clung to the black and white before his eyes.
With a nod, they left the park in opposite directions.
When she returned home, she tried in vain to record the details of his journal, to prolong the new things she could see, but like every night when she tried a similar task, she failed. Although she did not know it, he was attempting to write down the colours he had glimpsed, too, grasping, like she, at the already fleeting memories.
They both knew, with a clarity they were unaccustomed to, that they would be drawn back to the old oak tree in the park the following night, just as they had for years before, and would, for years to come.