Practice, we call it in English. The French word is better. It’s more honest.

Her name appears beneath the nib of his pen once, twice. It is not an obsession; he just wants to get it right.

Words, poetry smudge and smear on parchment. Not the right paper, no, not the right ink. Perhaps not the right words, he sees, as he reaches the end of the line and there is still more to say, still too much. It makes him wonder if these are the wrong words, or if it is the page that is wrong, or if what he wants to say simply cannot be explained, least not here, not now…

… or can it be spared a bit? Is there a possible squeezing to fit the length of a line, some words reduced, if not obviously? It is a constant adaptation to love, to say love, but then he wonders–he is always wondering–and he tells himself this is not an obsession, and it is not.

It is repetition. It is the wish, somehow, that wrong can be made right by saying right again and again, that little things matter, that art creates more than the object, that worlds will expand, that patience is a virtue.

That she loves him, in fact.

And she does, though not in these measured lines so neatly drawn, no. Titivillus distracts the scribe, and this delights her. She tempts the lover, a pen stroke goes astray. These mishaps are what she loves in him, though he tries so hard… She loves his persistence, her resistance, the forbidden promise of his hot finger beneath her petticoat, the improper thrill of damp lace and tender skin.

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