1,000 Ledes n + 1: Hetchman Noe Forgets

Hetchman Noe is writing a real actual paper letter. He is telling the object of the letter that he has recently moved to Portland, OR and since he

Since looks wrong. Sinse? sincse? cinse? Definitely not cinse. He stares at the letters he’s written. s i n c e. A cognitive paralysis begins to move down and throughout his body, beginning at his tight cheeks and pinched brow and continuing until his hand aches from an over-tight and immobile grip on his pen.

He knows how to spell this word, so this is ridiculous. Was it right he first time? Since, is it since? This is a first grade word. He stares at it, all the words around it melting away into the gibberish of inattention. It still looks wrong. Cince. That looks possible, but somehow unlikely. Hetchman closes his eyes. He looks for it on the page of a memory. He has the page up, he can see a jumble of other words, and where it belongs, there a five letter blank spot. It’s not there. Somehow it’s escaped the page, fled his memory. At least now he knows it’s five letters. He grits his teeth. “I have known this word since first grade,” He says quietly, never opening his teeth, “I know how to spell since.”

He stares at the words he’s written. He picks up his phone, flips to the editor and punches in his first spelling. S I N C E. He spellchecks. Since is the correct spelling. Even his dumb phone knows that. He turns back to his letter. Since still looks wrong. It looks so wrong, as if those letters cannot possibly add up to a word in English, not any word, much less since. He’s beginning to panic a little, he’s telling himself this is stupid, of course that’s how since is spelled. But inside him is a feeling, a feeling of wrongness that can’t speak, but if it could it would be yelling “Fuck the dictionary, that is not how you spell that word. It’s not!” He’s upset, enough that he can feel it in his throat, a large knot tying inside his neck, his own muscles choking him. Why the hell, he starts to wonder, do you have muscles in your neck that can choke yourself? He puts the letter down and takes a break. He will come back to it when he knows again how to spell since.