He opened the shoebox.
There were three envelopes in it.
He opened the first envelope and took out the piece of paper that was inside. On it, he'd written: “An elephant.”
He didn't think dates were important so he never put dates on any of the notes that went into the shoebox. If he put dates on the notes, wouldn't that make the shoebox, a journal?
He liked to think the shoebox was an incubator for ideas. So, maybe the shoebox was a journal of sorts. A place he could throw different things together without being too self-conscious about what went in, a place where he could mix things up and see how they grouped themselves together.
He liked the thought of ideas as things that are capable of making their own, independent associations.
He opened the second envelope. In it was a piece of paper with the number 3 on it.
He remembered when the first and second notes were written.
He took out the third envelope. On the note inside was a question. The question made him wince.
He put the notes back in the envelopes and he put the envelopes back in the shoebox.
He closed the shoebox.