“So,” he said, startling me from my task, “what are you doing?”

I looked at the handful of papers I was holding and at the shredder in front of me. It was a silly question, and he knew it. His face was all mischief and humor.

“I’m shredding papers.” The obvious answer. He waited for me to do better. Ok, then. “I suppose ‘destroying evidence’ would be the too-obvious answer. Ah, but evidence of what?”

“You’re a writer. I’m sure you can do better than that. A whole story even.” He leaned closer. “Let me know what you come up with.”

As he left, I looked at the papers still in my hand and the stack I still carried against my hip.

Everything was there. Every random text I thought to send. Every phone call. Every hope and insecurity. Everything I should say, but didn’t. Everything I shouldn’t say, but wanted to.

:Do I ever cross your mind when we aren’t here … :

:No, you don’t cross my mind. Crossing suggests coming and going. You show up and stay … :

:You’re not safe for me. You’ll break heart, and I don’t care … :

The important things I kept. I tucked the little things carefully away in notebooks and scribbled on scraps of paper in case I needed them, and the big things I kept safely hidden between the pages of unfinished novels in the hope I would someday be able to explain them. The rest … The rest I hid away in myself and fed the evidence into the depths of the shredder.

I finished my task and smiled. He wanted a story, but I gave him only the truth. I was destroying evidence.

As I finished my day and prepared to leave, I passed him on my way out the door. He was feeding paper into the shredder.

“And what evidence are you destroying?” I asked.

“Top secret,” he said.