33 readings


I hold it there in my palm, grasping it hard enough to leave an indent in my skin. Your pen. It’s red cap next to my green. It wasn’t anything of worth; just a basic utensil. But to me, it’s the last hand reaching to pull me out of the heavy waters.

Your office still smells like you; cloves and tea. Smoking wood from the fireplace. But the sense of you is gone. I can’t feel the indent of your thumb in the books that sit on your shelf, or the company of you by the mantel.

This very pen is the pen you used to write to me from your trips. The pen you probably clicked against your teeth, which I always used to hate, trying to think of the right words to shape your endeavors. I hold it close to my heart, yearning to feel you again, to never have to let go.

But it’s been months of endlessly searching for a sign that you’re not gone. I feel like I’m wandering in circles, closer and closer into the dark. I can’t work, I can’t sleep, I can’t breathe easily anymore.

Do you remember the promise you made to me before you left on the last trip you’d ever venture on? You said to me that you’d come back, and we would take a small ferry out into the ocean, and get away from the letters and the postcards and the souvenirs.

Now I find myself waiting for your letters, even though they aren’t coming. I want to bask in the sun of the green-carpeted fields in Oregon, walking in the steps you once did. I want to sit in those musty little cafes you lived for, and order something new each and every time.

I realize every little thing you did had meaning. The postcards, the letters, the silky little scarves you’d sent me. At the time, they were just objects. Card paper and winter garments. But really, they showed me how you were never regretful of life.

You didn’t mind if you passed in 20 years or 20 days. Time was nothing to you as long as you lived in it worthwhile. And because of that, because of every letter and scarf, I sit at the head of the computer, your pen clutched in my hand, buying my very first plane ticket. One third class ticket, you see, to Oregon.

And after that, I stand in your office, the only light the wavering flames of the fire. I smile to myself, thinking of your pacing around and your book-reading and your whole being here. I feel you again; faint, but I know it’s you. I look around once more at the patterned walls, the shelves clotted in dust. And then, with one last sigh, I have the courage to drop your pen into the flame, mine following in a trail of smoke.


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