Let’s Talk


“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”
–Ernest Hemingway

“What’s on your mind?”

If there was an easy way to answer that question, he would have jumped at the chance. He would have been quick to spit out the words that crawled across his head. At least he thought he would have. Maybe. Maybe not. But it was never easy. Things always got gummed up in his throat, and he ended up swallowing those sentences, swallowing them down to where they dissolved in stomach acid and missed opportunities.

So he took the path of least resistance.


“Nothing? You can’t have nothing on your mind. I see that look in your eyes. What are you thinking about?”

What was he thinking about?

A thought, perhaps a perfectly good, maybe even great one, surfaced in his head. It ran across the bumpy battlefield in his brain, just praying to Jesus Christ that it would get to the other side. Ducking under hesitant mortar shells and second-guessed machine gun bullets, it fell in front of the trench that was his mouth. It got father than it thought it would, and it was excited. It was ready to hop into that trench and emerge on the other side. So it jumped.

But it failed to notice the bails of barbed wire blocking the entrance to that trench. So it got caught, hung there, and bled out.

“Really. Nothing.”

No one ever thinks of nothing, and they both knew it. And that was ok. Because she heard the gunfire, too.

But as he sat there in unthoughtful silence, he remembered something he’d heard once.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”

What’s writing but words spoken on paper, he thought to himself.

One sentence. That’s all.

If you think about it, that task is very difficult. Because one true sentence is worth more than books of pithy nonsense. The truest sentence you know is worth more than anything you’ve ever spoken.

But for him – aware of that transcending truth – it suddenly became easy.

“I’m thankful for you,” he said. And she looked at him, puzzled.

“Why?” she asked.

And finally that thought soldier, armed to the teeth with syllables, spellings, and punctuation, emerged from his head.

“Because you listen when I’m lost for words. You listen when I don’t know if I should speak. You listen when I have nothing to say. I’m thankful for you because, in the quietest silence, you hear me, truly.”

And that truth, louder than launched mortar shells and machine gun fire, was worth more than all the words that he’d ever spoken.

End Kwote

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