Mary Rose Cook

Alice's hidden notes

I keep on finding these little notes inside the books on my shelves. Each note describes why Alice likes the enclosing book, what it means to her, why she thought I’d like it, why she wanted me to read it.

About two years, Alice and I had a correspondence. She was putting together a cassette of spoken word performances and, coincidentally, I’d recently read some of my own short stories into the little microphone on my laptop and played the recordings back out to a tape deck.

We got to talking via email, initially about the tape, but increasingly about our lives and our favourite bands and our dreams and our Mums and our teddy-bears and and our sexual identities. We imagined each other into our walks and nights out and crafternoons. Emails developed into letters and letters grew into parcels; parcels of books and CDs and little sketches and home-made stickers and notes.

We kept up our correspondence for about a year, but our letters dwindled, and then stopped. She got a new girlfriend, I started seeing a new boy.

But each time I find one of those notes, I go back to that time, and feel how I felt.