He has a book with countless pages, beautiful sheets of transparent rice paper, the kind once used to protect frontispieces from yellowing. They are so delicate that each one tears off when he turns it. He is meant to write or draw on them, but for now he only likes to feel them between his fingers, to look at their virginal blankness. When each leaf is torn, it gives him the same pleasure he had as a child when he would violate a field of freshly fallen snow with his footprints.
In time, a fault in the grain begins to appear. It’s a fraint streak that runs across the page. He strains his eyes, but he can’t make out what it is. He’s not even sure if it’s really there, but gradually it becomes more clearly defined, compromising the purity of the pages and his enjoyment of them.
Eventually he realises that it’s a line of words, although he can only distinguish the shapes of them. He tries to concentrate on the paper, but the emerging shapes distract him. By now he turns the pages automatically, without pleasure, thinking only of what is written up ahead.
It’s a message. Even before he reaches it he can see through the pages clearly enough to read it. He tries not to. He doesn’t want to reach it, but he can’t stop.
At last he comes to it. He doesn’t know who’s written it. Perhaps he himself has. He reads it again and again. He wants to cover it, make it invisible again, but all the other pages are gone, torn off. It’s the only page left.