From the ink well...
by disillusioned
(Everything Else, 1836 views) - 3/5/04
(recorded 3/5/04 @ 5:24:45 AM)
I authored the following for my English class. We were supposed to choose something we value. Something small and seemingly unsufficient, and something that would present something of a challenge when one was required to express why that item was valued. Below is my interpretation of the project. I'm not even sure what I think, but such is the state of my writing mind at far-too-early in the morning. Leave comments, etc.

I absolutely hated that chair. I despised it. I detested it. It was uncomfortable, with a far-too-weak-for-the-likes-of-me cushion adorning its seat. It sat there, mocking me with its splintered armrests, ready to exact revenge on a careless forearm. It sat there, supporting me. I looked around, dodging his gaze, at the room surrounding me. It was boring. Bleak. Bland. Et cetera.

     “Are you even listening to me,” he asked, in a rhetorical tone that suggested he already knew the answer to his question.

     My grandfather sat across from me in an equally ugly chair. He was yammering on about his course of duty in the war. I wasn’t sure which one. At some point, he segued into something completely devoid of any entertaining qualities.

     “Yes, grandpa.”
 I think what bothered me most about the room was the seemingly omnipresent layer of dust. It was dust that had given itself purpose, dust that permeated the room’s very being. I watched the sunlight’s minions try and fail to have its glimmer reflected by a candelabra on the nearby mantle. They were struck down infinitely, beleaguered by dust, triumphant.
“Good. Now then, I was telling you about my time in Korea. Now, I won’t bore you with details about my time in a foxhole- I want to tell you about a pen.”

     Right about then, I began to try to asphyxiate myself. Turns out you can’t, unless you come prepared. That or I wasn’t trying hard enough. (I wanted to remain somewhat subtle in my attempts in order to spare the old man’s feelings, of course.) But I digress.    
     “This pen,” he said, pulling a somewhat stunning implement out of his breast pocket “has been with me for a great deal.”

     He ended his sentence with no modifier and in a purposely vague manner, to allow for a dual interpretation: both a great deal of time and a great deal of life’s events. I accepted both with equal disinterest.

The pen itself was quite impressive, as much as any pen could be, I suppose. It was rather large and solid black, save its gold nib (the fountain tip) and gold lapel. It was beautiful, but with a small amount of visible wear, a relic from years past.

     “I used this pen to write your grandmother love letters while overseas. The ink would flow so smoothly, it would make all around you appear calm. I wrote with this pen to our President, I wrote with this pen poetry that would go forever unpublished, letters to old war buddies of mine, and I used it to maintain a journal for the better part of my 20s. This pen became something special to me; it became a part of me.”

     “I can see that. But I mean, it’s just a pen, right?”

     Right about as I uttered the word “just”, I knew I had taken it a step too far.

     “This,” he paused, “this pen is something incredible. This pen became a part of me,” he reiterated.

“It would cradle my hand perfectly, weighted just so, ink flowing freely and uniformly. This pen was a medium for my voice in written form. It spoke for me and my hand became a slave to it.”

     He took off its cap and hunched over in a manner I’m entirely sure wasn’t without pain.

     “Watch this,” he prompted, nodding in my direction.

     He pulled closer a sheet of white paper that had been dwelling innocently on the coffee table and proceeded to demonstrate his pen’s true capabilities.

     His hands shook in abhorrent rhythm up until the very moment the tip of his pen graced the paper beneath it. At that moment, it became perfectly controlled. The pen seeped out a murky black flood it seemed, shrouding the paper it soaked in ineffable darkness. I could almost feel myself becoming a victim to the curves and daggers left behind by the pen’s point. An anticipation formed surrounding where it would dart to next and my eyes became wholly transfixed on its masterful fluidity.

     “Wow,” I managed to stammer out, truly awe-struck by the effect such a seemingly unimportant and common implement was having on me. I do believe that if Peter had written with this pen while on the ocean, he would not have needed Jesus to calm the storm and sea surrounding him, so serene yet powerful were the marks it made.

     At that moment, my grandfather began to recall a truly surprisingly story. A story I had not heard in any form.

     “A long time ago, after the war and after marrying your grandmother and after having raised several of your aunts and uncles…” he apparently did not mean that long a time ago…
     “…I nearly lost this pen.”

     I began to listen intently, but my eyes remained fixed on the paper in front of me, hoping for more darkness to spill from its cavernous reservoir.
     “It was snowing out. A deep, cold, bitter snowstorm, and I was heading back to my house on the Upper East Side.”
     For a moment, it occurred to me that I was actually listening to a story about a pen. I sighed, but only to myself. My gaze remained focused on the pen’s razor-sharp tip.

     “I was managing quite alright on my pilgrimage home, staying on the sidewalk and steering clear of any large sheets of ice. As I continued to work my way up Lexington, my eyes failed me momentarily and my feet continued the deed. I slipped on a patch of black ice and my legs flew out from under me.”

     He had started to make increasingly smaller spirals with the pen now, ink still flowing gently onto what canvas remained.

     “As I hit the hard sidewalk beneath me, my pen jostled loose from my pocket and flew perfectly through an open storm grate.

     “For a minute, I contemplated the sheer lunacy of an open storm grate in winter, the upper-level irony, the contrived conspiracy that the gods must have planned that could have resulted in my pen plummeting down that damnable abyss. After a moment, abject panic set in.

     “I grasped through the perforated metal covering the hole with my fingers, knowing I wouldn’t be able to reach anywhere near far enough down to retrieve my pen.”

     He continued, but had my attention.

     “I ran home, careful to avoid and additional altercations with ice of any sort, and grabbed a flashlight and a long piece of fishing line.

     “Somehow, after a great deal of trial-and-error and sans my winter gloves, I was able to wrap the fishing line around the lapel and pull the pen to my safe grasp.

     “At that point, my fingers had nearly frozen, and indeed I had frostbite on my pinkie finger.”

     He held up his right hand and showed me the space above his first knuckle where the rest of his finger would normally be. I had forgotten about his deficiency and shudder briefly at the sight.

     “All of that happened for a pen,” I asked. His earlier and more generally accept account of how he had lost his finger differed greatly.

     “It’s not just any pen.”

     For a moment, I stared at it, and I truly grasped the importance behind it.

     “But I want you to have it,” he spoke quietly.

     In simple understanding, I accepted his gift without a word but instead with a look of wonder and completeness. To this day, I truly cherish that pen and have begun to make it a part of me.

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Wow, that's a cool story. Very good! My only complaint is the diction. Sometimes word choice is very poor, and it distracts from the story, and other times you sound like your trying too hard to make it sound "dramatic" or "high-level," you know what I mean?

Anyway, great job. That is an awesome story and about the most perfect thing for that assignment I can imagine.

   [TCcookie (J) 3/5/04 5:32 PM]

Oh, I forgot to mention... my roommate can asphyxiate himself, at least to the point of passing out (beyond that he can't control it, obviously).

   [TCcookie (J) 3/5/04 5:43 PM]

If your grandpa was given this assignment, I'm sure he'd get an A. You, however... why's the pen special to you? Simply because it was a gift? How'd it become "part of you"? I like it, yes, that's not what I'm saying, but the ending leaves me waiting-why's the pen special to you??

   [Narcissus (J) 3/6/04 10:23 AM]

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