Violet Dollop was bored to death.  And depressed around the edges.
     “Why don’t you take an art course?” her husband Tom suggested.  “You’ve always liked art.”
    Violet took a sip of her coffee and buttered a slice of rye toast.
    “I like looking at paintings in galleries,” she told him, spreading the toast with fig jam, “and in art books. That doesn’t mean I can do anything myself.”
      “Well, you never know,” Tom replied, finishing his tea and folding the paper neatly by the empty cup.  “Lots of people don’t know they can make things until, one day, they just sit down and make them.  Doesn’t have to be painting, “he added.
     “What do you think I should do, “Violet asked him.
     “I don’t know, Violet. That’s up to you.  But I do think you should to do something.”
     He got up from the table and started towards the door.
     “Gotta run,” he told her, giving her cheek the soft, glancing blow that constituted his breakfast kiss.  “Late.”
     Violet nodded glumly.
     “Oh do cheer up, Vi,” he admonished her.  “There must be something you find appealing—or that you‘re at least curious about?”
     “Bye, Tom,” she said.  “Hope you have a good day at work.”
     Tom stood by the front door.  “It’s never really a good day at work,” he told her.  I think a tolerable day is all I can realistically hope for.”
     And he was gone.
     “What was she curious about?”  The only answer that came back down and along the echoing corridors of her mind was no answer at all—a sound like rustling leaves blowing along a gutter.  
     What do other people do?  Then she thought about her inner leaves suddenly blowing along the dry gutter she had just devised in her mind.  But I didn’t devise it, she thought.  It just came to me.  If things just come to you, is that art? she asked herself.  Or is it only art when you  strive for something?
     She thought about it.  The fact is, things came to her all the time, unbidden, unlooked for: images, memories, questions, speculations, minor forms of irrationality, words floating free, untethered to any particular occasion, pure sound in her ears like birdsong. 
     Birdsong, she thought.  I don’t read anymore, she thought. Not the way I read in college.  I ought to read again.  It was strange how all the books had disappeared.  She used to own books—novels, books of poetry, a few art books.  Where were they?  Gone in garage sales, she thought. 
      She put the kettle on to make herself a second cup of coffee.  I need to read, she said to herself.  And after that, I need to write.   Or maybe I’ll start writing straightaway and start reading alongside the writing.  Twinned activities—like railway tracks.  She took a sheet of paper and a ballpoint pen from one of the kitchen drawers.  The kettle was boiling.  She smiled at it, as if it were sentient.  Boiling kettle as metaphor for percolating of ideas, she thought happily.  Plans.  She added a teaspoonful of coffee powder to her cup and filled it with hot water.  Then she went to the fridge where she decided against the milk and chose instead the carton of ten percent cream for her coffee.  Live it up, she laughed to herself.  Then she put the sheet of paper in front of her and picked up the pen.  Stupid ugly pen, she thought.  I need a fountain pen.  I used to own a fountain pen.  What happened to it? Maybe a garage sale happened to it?  Why would I sell my fountain pen?  I probably sold it for a couple of dollars.  Or maybe fifty cents.  The image of her fountain pen now hove briefly into view, hovering like a tiny, ice-blue dirigible above the butter dish.  They used to call them reservoir-pens, thought Violet.  When they were first invented.  A reservoir, she thought idly, is a lot of writing! 
     She began to scratch down words.  It was just a list.  “Rustling leaves blowing along a gutter,” she wrote.  “Birdsong.”  “Boiling kettle.”  “Railway tracks.”
     She looked at the paper. 
     “It’s just a list,” she said out loud.  But she knew it was more than that.  It wasn’t a poem, but it was more than just a list.  Maybe it’s a haiku novel, she thought, and then immediately chastised herself for being so cutely clever.   Especially, she thought, since I don’t know anything much about either haiku or novels.
     Just then the phone rang.  It was Tom.
     “How’s the search for meaning going?” he asked her, his voice stridently cheerful.  Ripping cloth, she thought.  She didn’t feel like telling him, anything.
     “Tom, have you seen my fountain pen anywhere?”
     “You have a fountain pen?”
     “Well, I used to have.”
     “What do you want a fountain pen for?”
     “Oh I just liked writing with it.  It was nice and smooth.  And I liked the weight of it in my hand.” 
     Tom chuckled. 
     “A fountain pen woman in a fibre-tip world!”
     “I don’t mind that,” said Violet