I used to have this pen – my favourite pen. Every day, I would write with it. On broad elaborate sheets or dirty bathroom stalls, on tiny journal pages or the inside the crevice of a book, I would find myself scribbling away little notes only I could read.
It wrote beautifully. On any surface, each word was carved as though from the deepest ebony, a black so dark that even night would be envious if it could be. And the ink was tight and accurate; not a line smudged nor a blob bubbled nor did it ever err. Though my hands were clumsily and inefficient – a testament of the dangers of apathy – the pen moved as I moved, breathed as I breathed, and together we were one.
Effortlessly like a rock throw into a canyon, it worked as I did. Long posts were done without a complaint while short pieces became its child play. While I was laughing, it was and while I was crying, it gave me the tears to cry with – little black dots carefully scribbled into the pages of a journal. Even my doodles, which were nothing more than deranged fantasies and half-baked ideas awash in boredom, became works of art under my pen’s gentle touch.
Outside, it was exquisite. No detail was too small – the grip was plush, the cap was opposable, and the bulb was finely worn, like it had been written a thousand years prior and would do so a thousand years into the future.
Yet all pens shared its build on close inspection. A long stem with words winding around its grip flashed as an attempt to hid the inner consistency. Inside like all others was its reed of life, the blood which poured onto the pages. It was black and milky, a river flowing as I moved up and down, down and up. And each day, the pen’s blood dripped and dropped and dribbled.
On one particular day – I’d like to believe it was one of those Tuesdays when the clouds hang like a weight on a string and the fog riddles the streets unevenly – it stopped working. A few weeks before, it had coughed and splattered. I was composing a world of ink with little ink houses and little ink people with their little ink families and their little ink jobs and their little ink food and a little ink dog scurrying throughout the little ink streets. But on this day, a little ink man turned into a big ink blog, and then the pen ceased writing and the page on which I wrote whispered the pen’s metallic scratching.
I tried to fix it. I shook the pen. I warmed it up. I even coated my finger with saliva and carefully dipped it in the small pool, but nothing worked. Any refill tube didn’t fit, any injection proved too messy. A bare outline with no ink, a faint wound – a paper cut – was its only evidence.
I kept the pen with me for months, but it only wore my pocket down. It wasn’t heavy, mind you; it was just always there. Once, it tore a hole through the lining of my jeans. Another time, it poked my hand as I was reaching into my pocket.
Certainly it was still my pen. My favourite pen. It had the same shape and same colour. Yet it had no use. It had no flavour. It had no life – that had dried up months ago.
This is not to say it was useless. Its importance was in the words we composed, the hours I had spent learning its curves with my fingertips. In the black ink was all the times I tried to pen a joke, all the letters that I had sent, all the sentences where I balanced one word over another, where I switched from gravity to gobbledygook, where I loved, hated, smiled, cried, laughed, and loved again. It held my originality and my lack thereof for it was me and I was it.
Then one day, I dropped the pen from my coat pocket accidently. Almost instinctively I went to grab it. This was my favourite pen after all. But there was a moment of hesitation, a brief consideration as the pen eroded bit by bit on the asphalt.
It happened once more a few days later. Hesitation bubbled again. I walked away. I walked back. The pen was still there on the ground. I came back the next day – still there. A week, there. A year, there. It had no where else to go, I guess. It was only a pen.
Now, I no longer check. I’m sure it’s still somewhere out there and I hope that someone gave it a refill for it did write beautifully even if I didn’t always.