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Life of an Inanimate Object: Parts 1-16

posted May 26, 2017, 6:13 AM by Jeffrey Wolf   [ updated May 26, 2017, 7:27 AM ]

By: Megan Cichon, Entertainment Editor

Posted May 26th, 2017


Part I: Beginnings

Humans like you won’t remember being in your mother’s womb. You don’t remember how it felt as you grew arms and legs, and you likely don’t remember being born either. You don’t remember coming into this world and screaming because, for the first time ever, there’s oxygen in your lungs, and you’re blinded by the scathing lights in the delivery room. You might not remember. But I certainly do.

I remember my mother--she was a fourteen year old cedar tree, more mature and more beautiful than any of the other trees in the surrounding forest. When loggers cut her down, she was taken to a factory, where she was cut up into small blocks, nineteen centimeters long. Those nineteen centimeter blocks would be her legacy--her children. We were cut up again, into skinnier slats, and then we had grooves etched into us. Those grooves were filled with glue and a graphite rod was placed inside. Another slat was placed on top, and our skeletons had officially finished developing.

I wasn’t even conscious when they painted me. But I do remember that I was painted seven times over, and each time I felt more complete than the last. When the painting was finished, a rubbery substance was placed on my head. I felt a stamp press into my topmost layers of paint and recede. I was placed in a tight container and then everything was silent.

I slowly opened my eyes. I could faintly see long yellow objects surrounding me. They were all murmuring amongst one another. I looked down at myself and discovered that I was, quite simply, gorgeous.

My yellow body was so smooth and shiny. My gray point was sharper than the point of anyone else surrounding me. I glanced up, and saw a plump, bright pink, rubber mass on top of my head. I giggled with joy, which drew the attention of those around me.

“Hello!” One of them squealed.

“Nice eraser!” Another chimed.

“I like your stamp!” Another chirped, “They messed mine up! See?!”

They turned around so I could see green ink smeared all over their wonderful paint.

“What’s your name?” One inquired.

My name? I’d essentially just come to life. I’d been too busy noticing how perfect I am to come up with a name perfect enough to be called for the rest of my life. All of them were staring at me, wide eyed with anticipation.

“I haven’t had much time to think about it,” I admitted, my mind moving a trillion miles a minute, “After all, I just woke up. I don’t want to rush--”

“We all have great suggestions!” One piped up, “For example--”

They cleared their throat.

“--Pamela, Persephone, Patricia, Peyton, Penelope, Paule, Peggy, Prudence, Pipa, Pearl, Paris, Piper--”

“I like that,” I muttered thoughtfully.

“Paris? Me too.”

“No, not that one,” I explained, “Piper.”

“Is that the name you want?”

I thought, and then nodded affirmatively.

“Yeah...Piper...Piper the Pencil.”


Part II: Journey

The box containing my new friends and I was placed into an even bigger box on top of even more boxes containing even more pencils. I found myself looking at a dirty metal ceiling. The room smelled the exact same way cars had when they’d driven past my mother tree.

Suddenly, there was a loud rumbling. Several pencils around me started screaming, and tried to move, but we were packed so close together that moving anywhere was next to impossible.

“We’re gonna die!” The one right next to me squealed.

I rolled my eyes

“We are not gonna die,” I assured them.

“Then what’s going on?” One questioned, “There’s a loud noise, and last time there was a loud noise, mother tree was cut down and we were all--”

“Stop your panicking,” a calm voice ordered, “You’ll be fine.”

We all looked around inside our box. No one had said anything.

“Who’s there?” I wondered, looking around.

The dark ceiling was still just as dark.

“Over here,” the voice called from my left.

I peered outside my box and saw another pencil. This one was considerably worn, so much so that his paint had chipped off. His eraser was gone, and he was quite short. He had a string tied around him, and he was dangling from a clip board.

“Who are you?” I wondered.

“My name is Preston,” he told me, “I’m twenty-two years old.”

My new friends and I gasped. We didn’t know much, but in the life of a pencil, twenty two human years was a very long time.

“What’s that loud rumbling?” The pencil behind me squeaked.

“You’re in a delivery truck,” Preston explained, flipping around to look at the clipboard he was attached to, “Looks like you’re headed to some superstore in California.”

“What’ll happen to us there?” Another friend of mine wondered.

Preston spun back around and looked at us with soft eyes.

“Ah, I remember when I was as young as you,” he said, reminiscing, “I was placed into a box much like the one you’re in, and shipped to Texas. I was bought at a store called “Weel-Mart”, and then I was tied here, and have spent every day since then writing down various numbers. I’ve seen a great many places, and know that the place you kids are heading to is filled with people who have all kinds of exciting uses for pencils.”

“Really?” A pencil at the opposite end of the box wondered, “Like what?”

“There are musicians in California, and those musicians use pencils to write their music,” Preston answered, “There’s writers there too, and they use pencils to write fantastic stories or poetry. There’s artists, who use you to create wondrous works. There’s sports coaches and athletes who will use you to write out plans and plays. The possibilities for you in California are endless.”

He smirked.

“Of course, you could end up in a retirement home, providing elderly humans with the ability to complete their crossword puzzles.”

That sounded exponentially much less exciting.


Part III: Store Shelves

“Goodbye!” Preston shouted as a muscular man lifted our box up and carried us outside.

The amount of sunlight outside was blinding. I squinted, and could make out a baby blue sky spotted with puffy white clouds.

“It’s so beautiful,” a pencil next to me remarked, and I nodded in agreement.

Suddenly, the sky vanished, and was replaced by another dirty ceiling.

“Is that the new shipment?” Someone asked.

“Yeah,” the burly man holding us replied, “‘Bout time we got this. We’ve only been waiting for six weeks...”

“I’ll get it on the shelves right now,” a lady said, and she took us from the muscular man.

She walked quickly away and out a set of doors. The ceiling in this room was much cleaner. I heard tons of talking, and squeaking wheels.

“Momma, can I get this toy?!” A young voice squealed.

“Honey, I don’t know what type of oil your car takes,” a woman mocked.

“Do you think grandma would like this sweater in purple or black?” A man wondered.

There was so much going on; it was difficult to take it all in. I shut my eyes and tried to block out all of the noise. And then I felt my individual pencil box be picked up. I opened my eyes, and the lady looked at my box with lazy eyes. The other pencils and I stayed silent, fearful of what would happen next. Then she plopped us on a metal shelf and reached for another pencil pack.

“What’s she doing?” I wondered.

“Who cares what she’s doing?” One pencil replied, “Where are we?”

I looked around. Bright signs advertising low prices were everywhere. Across from me were pens, notebooks, papers, folders, scissors...office supplies.

“Preston said we were going to a superstore,” a pencil remarked, “That must be where we are...a superstore.”

“Doesn’t look that super to me,” I muttered.

The lady dropped a few more pencil packs on the shelf next to me and then gathered our shipment box and walked away.

“Now what do we do?” One pencil inquired.

An old lady turned into our aisle and stopped in front of us. She grabbed the pencil pack next to us and walked away, humming contently to herself.

“We wait to be purchased I think.”

A young man turned into our aisle and turned to observe the notebooks. His hands were in his pockets and he was nervously tapping his foot. He grabbed a notebook and flipped through it. Seeming pleased, he tucked it under his arm and walked over by us. He was muttering to himself.

“Pencils...notebooks...new eraser...hole puncher...binder...plastic binder sleeves...printer ink...red pens...flash drives...”

“Oh my gosh,” a pencil in another box sneered, “He’s talking to himself. He must be insane.”

He reached forwards and grabbed my box. A few of us groaned in displeasure, and I just watched his sneakers move as he walked around the store, muttering the entire time.

“Pencils...notebook...new eraser...hole puncher...”


Part VI: To Become Acquainted

“We’ve been purchased by a psychopath,” the pencil next to me remarked as we were stuffed into a plastic bag, “He’s probably going to use us to start fires or something stupid like that.”

“You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover,” I pointed out, “That’s not nice--”

“His hood was pulled over his head!” Another pencil screamed, “What if he’s a monster of some sort?!”

“Stop your babbling!” I demanded, annoyed with their unrealistic stereotypes, “This kid could be the greatest person you’ve ever seen, and you won’t stop judging him!”

“How do we know it’s a him?” One whispered.

I groaned inwardly and waited patiently to be free from this box too small to comfortably hold all of these other pencils. I didn’t have long to wait.

“Hi, sweetheart!” A chirpy voice called, “You got a new hole puncher!”

“I did,” the boy holding us replied, “Hopefully this one doesn’t break.”

“Don’t stuff so many papers in it at once,” the woman suggested.

“See?” The pencil next to me hissed, “He kills office supplies.”

“Maybe it just died of old age,” I suggested, trying to be positive.

The destruction of all the office supplies did however seem rather suspicious. What if my new friends and I had been purchased by a klutz who made a hobby of destroying their school supplies?

I didn’t have long to dwell on these thoughts. We were slammed down onto a hard surface, and I saw his hand reach in the bag. It brushed the notebook, and then our box. He tightened his grip on the box and pulled it from the bag. He held it up to observe it, and for the first time, we got a good look at his face.

“As much as I hate to admit this,” one pencil muttered, “He’s quite handsome.”

Handsome was overdoing it by a lot. He had brown eyes, that looked a shade between bark on trees and mud after a rainstorm. His hair was a dark shade of blonde, like dead grass in the heat of summer. He had several blemishes scattered around his face, and out of control eyebrows. Handsome? I thought, Handsome isn’t the word I would use.

And then he opened the box.

“We’re gonna die!” A pencil next to me screamed.

I groaned in annoyance.

“We are not gonna die!” I shouted back, “Now would you shut up?!”

Our owner turned the box upside down, and instead of hitting the cardboard, we slid out. More pencils screamed as we fell through the air for half a second, and then landed on a hard desk made of a really dark wood that I couldn’t identify. It looked worn out, and there were papers scattered everywhere.

“I bet this is where he plans how he murders people,” a pencil muttered.

I rolled over and buried my face in the desk.

“Just look at all these papers,” another pencil muttered, “Some of these writings are too abstract for a sane person to be writing.”

I rolled back over and saw the writing on the paper. I looked around me and noticed every paper on the desk was covered with writing...very neat and organized handwriting.


Part V: My First Words

“Guys!” I called out, “Are you seeing all this writing?!”

“PIPER! LOOK OUT!” One of them screamed.

I felt something wrap around my midsection and lift me into the air. I shouted as I rose high into the air, the desk and pencils on it looking smaller and smaller. I now however, could read some of the writing on the papers.

“The shade my cheeks turn when she compliments me. The color of her dress she wore on our first date. The color of her lipstick on my cheek. The tint of the sky as we watched the sunset.  The color of the roses I gave her on Valentine’s Day. The pigment of my blood as I fought for her. The color I saw when I caught her kissing him, and not me.”

I don’t know who hurt him, but he’d turned it into something quite lovely. He tucked me behind his ear, and I saw his room in full. His bed was sloppily made, and there were papers scattered all over it. An entire section of wall next to his bed was full of Post-it notes, filled with scribbles and random drawings. Whoever this kid was, he had an active imagination, and he didn’t allow a single idea to escape him without being recorded.

“Where...oh, here,” the boy muttered, picking up a tattered notebook.

He opened it and flipped to a page half filled with his neat handwriting.

“Where was I...?”

I peered onto the page. The writing in here was the same caliber of the writing on the other paper on the desk.

“Ah, yes,” he said to himself, “The first chapter.”

Chapter? I thought, Chapter? As in chapter of a book--

He reached up and plucked me from behind his ear. The air rushed past me, and he set my graphite point on the paper. And suddenly I was moving. The sensation was relaxing; it was like getting a massage. But what was even more amazing was the words. Each letter was so precisely drawn on the page, and each word was crafted easily within the sentence.

“I burst through the doors, letting them slam into the walls--”

Suddenly I stopped moving.

“That makes no sense,” the boy muttered.

I flipped over quickly, as if I was riding a rollercoaster. My bright pink eraser top was scrubbed all over the paper. When I was flipped back over, I discovered that half of the sentence had disappeared. But what replaced it was even better:

“I burst through the doors, letting my anger pour out from me and into the room I’d just entered. They wouldn’t make this mistake again.”

The boy and I went on writing for hours. The sun had set by the time we’d finished the first chapter. When he finally set me down, my graphite tip was no longer sharp, but I didn’t care. I had helped create something beautiful.


Part VI: Sharp

When he came home from school the next day, he threw his backpack down against the wall and walked to where I lay on his desk. He sat down in the chair, picked me up, and began writing again.

“The moon had risen in the sky, casting a pale blue light over the city. I was moving quickly towards my destination--”

I felt a sharp pain shake me to my core, and I cried out.

“Piper?!” A pencil screamed, “Piper!”

I looked back down at the paper, and saw a tiny bit of my graphite tip lying on the paper. I hadn’t known that breaking my graphite would hurt so much.

“I’m fine,” I called back, “Just broke my graphite.”

The boy frowned and set me down on the desk. I watched him pull open a desk drawer and bring out a tiny square object with two differently sized holes in the side. There were shiny things on the top, and they looked kinda sharp. I wondered what the purpose of this object was.

The boy picked me up and placed my broken tip into one of the holes of the object. Oh, I thought to myself, this must be some kind of graphite repair thing. This’ll feel great.

I have never been more wrong about anything in my entire life. I have never, ever had a thought as far from correct as that one was. As soon as he twisted me, I spiking pain shot up my body. I saw a small shaving of my wood fall onto the desk. And I shouted, quite loudly. A few of the pencils called out to me, but the boy twisted me again, and another shaving fell onto the desk. He twisted me again, and again, and again, and again...

Finally he removed me from the device, and observed my tip. Seemingly dissatisfied, he put me back into the device and twisted me several more times. With each new twist, the wood surrounding my graphite became more and more sore. He removed me again, and seeming satisfied, he dropped me back on the desk.

“PIPER!” Chorused many pencils.

I didn’t reply, only watched in pain as the boy swept all of my wood shavings off his desk and into the garbage.

“Piper?” A few pencils called.

“I’m okay,” I assured them, “I might not feel okay, but I’m alive.”

The boy picked me up again, and smiled in satisfaction.

“There ya go,” he said happily, “All sharp again.”

Sharp? I thought, looking down. I gasped. My tip, which had before been broken, was now new and improved. It was so sharp and gracefully pointed. I noticed I was a tad shorter, but I was so beautiful.

“He fixed me!” I cried out, overjoyed.

He set me back on the paper again, and we continued to write together.

“...on foot. There was a light rain falling from the sky, and it had long ago soaked through my clothes. I wouldn’t--couldn’t--stop walking. I kept pushing forward, ever determined to find her...”


Part VII: Storytime

The boy’s mother burst into the room, and I was dropped back onto the desk.

“Galen, did you feed the dog dinner yet?” She asked.

“Shoot!” Galen cried, scrambling out of the desk chair and bolting out of the room.

His mother followed him out of the room, smiling and shaking her head. I could hear a dog yapping in the distance.

“Galen?” Another pencil echoed, “What kind of a name is that?”

A voice from the other end of the room piped up.

“Galen is his name,” they began, “It means calm or gentle.”

“Who are you?” I inquired, “Where are you?”

I saw a small line of yellow roll into the light. This pencil was old...chewed up and so short that his graphite end was barely a half inch from the metal on his head. He had no eraser left.

“I am Aaron,” he began, “I’m five years old. I was the first pencil Galen used for serious writing. It would appear you're the second.”

I glanced back towards the door. Galen still hadn't returned.

“Serious writing?”

“His story,” Aaron clarified, “I started it. Now you'll finish it.”

“What's it about?” I asked.

“The main character is a man who has lived his entire life completely colorblind until doctors performed an experimental operation on him. Now that he can see in color, he experiences everything in color--love, anger, sadness.”

I could see Aaron's smile, even though I was on the other side of the room.

“I'm not sure where Galen got the idea for that one...but I think it's written ingeniously. That kid's going places.”

“Don't worry Mom!” I heard Galen shout, “I'll be down when you call!”

Galen burst through the door again and raced towards the desk. He sat down eagerly and picked me up.

“Where was I...,” he muttered.

His eyes lit up and he set me on the paper.

Her hair was the color of copper, her eyes the color of oceans. I asked her what her favorite season was, and she told me it's fall. I looked up at bright green leaves and wished they'd turn crimson and start falling for her. Falling for her...just like me…”

“GALEN!” His mother screamed, “Dinner! Wash your hands!”

Galen frowned in annoyance, clearly having thought he'd have more time to write with me.

“Coming,” he sighed, setting me back on the desk and rising to his feet. He turned and walked out of his room.

“Now that you know what it's about...how is it?” Aaron called.

“Interesting,” I replied, “but gosh...where'd he get the idea...?”


Part VIII: Dawn of a Higher Education

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

That noise was the single most annoying thing I’d ever heard in my life. I had no idea how Galen could sleep through this.

BEEP. BEEP. BE--

Galen slammed his hand down on the top of the noise-making device and groaned.

“It’s too early for this garbage,” he muttered, his words running together.

He dragged himself out of bed and almost fell flat on his face on his way to the lightswitch. He flicked the lightswitch, and his room was flooded with light. He stumbled like a drunk over to his dresser and proceeded to dress himself. I glanced at the clock.

“Who wakes up at six in the morning on their own free will?” I muttered, “How stupid.”

I sighed and closed my eyes, feeling sleepy yet. Suddenly, Galen was picking me up, and I was floating through the air. I opened my eyes in annoyance, and glanced at the clock as Galen tucked me behind his ear.

“Where are we going at six-thirty in the morning?” I groaned.

Galen frantically raced down the steps and into the kitchen. His mother was already there, drinking a black, bitter-smelling liquid from a white mug.

“No breakfast again?” She asked, taking a sip.

“I never eat breakfast,” Galen muttered, yanking a backpack off the bench and swinging it over his shoulders, “No time.”

“Suit yourself,” his mother sang, sipping the liquid again.

Galen raced out of the kitchen and across the living room. He quickly approached the front door, opened it, and stepped outside. It was rather cold outside, and the sky looked gray and very angry. The ground was wet, the trees were bare, and no birds were singing. It was quite depressing.

HONK!

Galen raced down the driveway, towards a long yellow tube with little black circles on it. On the side, it read “SCHOOL DISTRICT OF SKYSTEAD”. Some doors opened up, and Galen raced through them, up a few steps, and slid into a seat in the middle of the tube. He plopped his backpack on the seat and yanked out the notebook he wrote in. He pulled me from behind his ear and was about to start writing, when suddenly:
“Hey, look,” a snobby voice remarked, “It’s the weird kid.”

Galen held me still, barely above the paper. I think he thought maybe they couldn’t see him, if he held still.

“Where ya been, freak?” Another kid snarled, “Dissecting squirrels in the woods?”

“It’s been a long weekend,” another voice chided, “He probably dissected an entire grizzly bear, and then hid its body parts under six different trees.”

Galen’s lips tightened, and he slouched further into the seat. I wondered why he wasn’t responding to the other kids.

“Whatcha writing about now?” A kid snapped, “A murderer’s handbook?”

Galen didn’t reply, and a kid waved their hand in front of his face. Galen said nothing.

“He probably can’t see you waving,” another kid said with false sympathy, “What with his vision problems and all...”

The tube was filled with a loud squealing sound, and the kids started filing off.

“See you in class, loser,” a kid laughed, walking past.

Galen grabbed his backpack and stuffed the notebook back into it. He tucked me behind his ear and followed the last kid off the tube. The first thing I saw when he stepped outside: a large, brick building, that looked similar to a prison. A sign outside read: “SKYSTEAD HIGH SCHOOL”.


Part IX: Lunch at School

I wasn’t a hundred percent certain what was supposed to happen in a high school, but I’m guessing that curling up in the darkest corner of the library during lunch wasn’t the intended purpose. Galen seemed super upset, and I didn’t have to work too hard to guess why. He’d kept me tucked behind his ear the entire day, so I’d had a front row seat to all the horrors he’d experienced. I’d thought the kids who’d picked on him on the tube--turns out it’s called a bus--were a special exception. As it turned out, the entire student population seemed to have it out for poor Galen. Girls would snicker at him, guys would mock his movements, different kids would call him names not at all appropriate for an educational setting...the worst was when he was walking past the gymnasium and a bunch of kids threw soaking wet towels over his head.

I wasn’t convinced that Galen wanted to go to school to begin with, and he didn’t seem to overjoyed at the prospect of going back to class. As soon as the dismissal bell had sang, Galen had raced out of the classroom and bee-lined towards the library. Since then, he’d been curled up with a notebook on his lap and me in his hand, next to the only window in the library. The librarians had since gone to lunch, and the lights were turned off. I could hear the jeer of hundreds of kids in the lunchroom not far from the library.

Galen sighed, and set me against the paper, and started sweeping me across it.

...I watched the traffic light carefully. The topmost light was still lit, and had been for a while now. I wished the bottom light would flash. I wanted to slam my foot on the pedal and feel the car lurch underneath me...

“Hey look!” A voice jeered, “I found the loser’s hiding spot!”

Galen stopped suddenly, and looked up. I looked up too. There was a tall, beefy kid approaching. In the dark, he looked extremely intimidating.

“Whatcha writing, nerd?” He asked, leaning forwards, and ripping the notebook from Galen’s hands. I fell onto the floor, and Galen shot to his feet.

“Give it back!” He shouted, jumping to try and reach the notebook the bully was now holding high above his head.

I heard a few kids snickering the dark. The kid shoved Galen back, and he slammed into a bookshelf.

“‘The topmost light was still lit, and had been for quite a while now’,” the bully mocked, “‘I wished the bottom light would flash.’”

“Give it back!” Galen shouted again, running at the bully and leaping into the air.

The bully moved easily to the side and laughed.

“Is this really what it’s like to see the world like you do?” The bully snarled, “No wonder you’re so awkward!”

More laughter came from the doorway.

“Just leave me alone!” Galen cried, jumping again to his feet and clenching his fists angrily.

“Or what?” The bully sneered, “You’ll kill me in your stupid novel? What’s it about again? Some stupid kid like you--”

Galen screamed angrily, and punched the bully in the nose. Blood showered onto the books sitting on the shelves, and the bully dropped Galen’s notebook. Galen scrambled forwards and grabbed his notebook, but he wasn’t fast enough. The bully grabbed Galen’s ankle, and he fell back down. The bully stood up and dragged him away into the dark again. I could hear Galen and the bully shouting and screaming at one another. Suddenly, the lights flickered on, and standing in the doorway of the library were several teachers and students. Their mouths were wide open as they witnessed the scene before them.

Galen was on the ground, and the bully was looming over him. Galen’s face was bloody, and I could have sworn I saw a tooth on the ground next to his face. His eyes were glazing over, and suddenly his head fell limply down.

“He started it...,” the bully stammered.

“Get away from him!” A teacher shouted, rushing to Galen, and shouting back, “Call 911!”


Part X: Doctor's Visit

I watched as the paramedics entered and loaded Galen onto a stretcher. I watched as the police came in and took people's statements. I watched as a police officer picked up Galen’s notebook and started leafing through it. I waited patiently, until a nice police officer picked me up and placed me alongside the notebook in Galen’s backpack. I had never been in a backpack before, and the pencils in there were all spouting gibberish.

“The cube root of 81 is 3...”

“The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell...”

Those pencils seemed crazy to me, and I couldn't wait to get outta this backpack. I had to put up with them for quite some time though, until I heard a familiar voice: Galen's mother's.

“Here's his backpack,” the police officer began, “how's he doing?”

“The doctors think he has a mild concussion,” the mother explained. “They want to run a few more tests to be sure. He's got a bloody nose.”

There was an awkward silence.

“Is he going to be suspended?” Galen's mother wondered.

“We took statements from the kids who witnessed the fight,” the officer replied, “and we'll also be reviewing footage from the security cameras in there. Once we’ve determined who's at fault, we'll establish appropriate consequences.”

“Mrs. Anderson?” Another voice called. “Ready?”

“Can I have his backpack?” His mother asked.

“Of course,” the officer said, “Have a wonderful day.”

“He's mildly concussed,” the voice, that I assumed belonged to some doctor, began, “but other than that and a bit of a bloody nose, he seems to be quite alright.”

“How long will he be here?” His mother questioned.

I heard a door swing open.

“We’re likely going to keep him here overnight,” the doctor explained. “However, I am going to ask that he doesn’t go to school for the rest of the school week. I want him on bedrest, and no strenuous mental or physical activity.”

“You don’t have to worry about physical activity,” Galen remarked, “I’m not much of an athlete.”

A wave of relief washed over me when I heard Galen’s voice. Even though I’d heard everyone say he’d be okay, I didn’t actually believe it until I’d heard him.

“What about mental activity?” The doctor questioned, “That’ll--”

“Do you consider writing a strenuous mental activity?” Galen interrupted.

“Galen, no writing this week,” his mother pleaded. “We want you to get better.”

“But--”

“Galen,” his mother interrupted, sounding stern, “No. Writing.”

There was a silence for a while, one that was so tense I could feel it from inside the backpack. Then finally, Galen spoke:

“Fine. No writing. But once that week is up...”

“That’s fine,” his mother agreed, “Now, let’s discuss treatment with the doctor.”

“Well, there’s not much to tell,” the doctor began, “Bed rest, and activities that should be avoided include mental concentration, such as watching T.V., writing, video games, schoolwork, and so forth. Once your symptoms are no longer present, we’ll meet again and discuss how to move forward. Does this sound like a plan?”

“Fine,” Galen grumbled, “I’ll do it.”

He didn’t sound pleased, and I couldn’t blame him. An entire week without using me to write. If you’d ask me, it sounded like the equivalent of torture.


Part XI: Going, Going, Gone

Galen spent the week after his release from the hospital holed up in his room, sleeping a lot. When he wasn’t sleeping, he just stared at the ceiling with a zoned out expression on his face. I just sat on his desk, staring at him the entire time. Occasionally, Galen’s mother would come up and practically drag Galen out of bed. He’d return barely thirty minutes later and lay back down, seemingly depressed. One day, Galen’s mother entered, and opened the shades over the window just a little bit.

“Galen,” she began, “get up. The doctor wants to see you today.”

Galen groaned, clearly not pleased with the prospect of getting up, but clambered out of bed anyhow.

“Am I gonna be able to write again?” Galen asked, pulling on some jeans and digging around a dirty clothes pile for a shirt of some sort.

“I would imagine so,” his mother sighed, “Now hurry up. We leave in ten minutes.”

Galen waited until his mother left and then pulled the shirt over his head. He glanced at the desk where I lay and crawled over. He pulled me off the desk and looked at me.

“I’ve been thinking up so many ideas,” he whispered to no one in particular. “It’s all pent up inside and ready burst forth.”

“Galen!” His mother shouted.

Galen tossed me back onto the desk, and raced out of the room, clumsily pulling shoes onto his feet.

📖 📖 📖

A few hours later, Galen burst back into his room, shouting at the top of his lungs.

“I’m all better!” He cried, rushing to the window and practically ripping the shades from the wall mount they were hanging on.

He threw open the window and leaned out. I heard him excitedly breath in the air and started laughing.

“You still need to take it easy!” His mother shouted.

Galen raced back to the desk and plopped himself into the chair.

“Time to write,” he sang, “time to write, time to write, time to write...”

He picked me up and quickly opened the notebook. Then he started writing:

I asked her where we could go, but I only partly heard her reply. I was too busy focusing on the sky. It was bright blue, and because it had just stormed, I could see a rainbow. I hadn’t ever seen anything so spectacular in my life. The red looked like a pale red rose, and the purple on the flip side looked gloomy and...”

We wrote like that for the rest of the day. Galen didn’t stop until his mother told him fifteen different times to go to bed. And even after that, he wrote by flashlight.

The spines of the books felt like soft sikn...”

Galen stopped and flipped me over to fix his spelling error, and I heard a scratchy sound. Something felt very wrong. Galen flipped me back over and ran his finger over my eraser.

“Darn,” he muttered, “Looks like I need to invest in a new eraser for you.”

He set me back down and glanced at the clock.

“We'll keep going tomorrow,” he muttered, standing.

I watched him stumble across the room and collapse lazily onto his bed. I frowned and glanced upwards, scared of what I might see. What I saw almost drove me to tears.

My eraser was gone.


Part XII: Partners in Crime

After Galen returned from school the next day, he tossed his backpack onto his bed. This time, however, instead of unpacking his notebook and getting right to work with me, he pulled me out from behind his ear and set me gently on the nightstand. I was very confused, as I watched Galen reach in his backpack and pull out his wallet. He stuffed it in his back pocket and exited the room. I looked around, confused.

“Where’d he go?” One of my buddies asked.

“I don’t know where he goes,” Aaron called out, “but last time he left, he came back with you.”

Fear raced through me. My eraser was gone now...what if Galen had left to replace me? I tried to push the thought out, but it kept returning. Aaron had no eraser...was that when Galen decided to use me instead? NO, I thought, I’m twice as tall as Aaron. There has to be an alternative to replacing me. But then I wondered how useful I could really be without an eraser. Thoughts like this persisted for the hour and a half Galen was gone. Then suddenly, I heard the door open.

“Hi there!” Galen’s mother called, “How was the store?”

He bought me from a store, I thought in dismay.

As Galen walked up the steps, I heard the familiar rustling of a plastic bag, and I started to feel a cold pit open wide inside of me. The door opened, and Galen walked into the room. I shuddered as he dropped the bag on the bed and started pulling out items: printer ink, a pencil case, another pencil sharpener, and a strange box.

Oh gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh...

Galen tore open the box, and I saw a pink rectangle fall onto the bed. I swallowed hard.

What if he got a glitter pen? I thought, remembering all the kids at school I’d seen using them, what if he’s finally giving into peer pressure?

“GALEN!” His mother called, “DINNER!”

Galen picked up the pink thing and set it next to me.

“There we go,” he muttered, “Now I can keep on writing...”

He trailed off, leaving his room and heading down the steps. I swallowed nervously, and risked a glance at the pink blob. I didn’t know much, but it definitely wasn’t a pen or pencil.

“Hi there!” The blob cried eagerly, scaring me, “My name is Elvin! We’re gonna be hanging out a lot, so I guess we’d better get to know each other now. What’s your favorite color? Or do you like all colors? My favorite color is pink! You know how they say ‘real men wear pink’? Well, I wear pink all the time! Do you hate pens, or are you friends with them? I have a few good pen pals, but some pens can be real jerks--”

“Why are we going to be ‘hanging out’ a lot?” I interrupted, a tad freaked out by this pink blob sitting next to me.

“Oh, that weird kid--”

“His name is Galen,” I snapped.

“Galen? What a cool name! Anyways,” Elvin continued, “I can see that your eraser is gone. Well, I’m an eraser, I get to fix all of your mistakes!”

I thought he was a bit too pumped about his job. However, he had a point. If he was my replacement eraser, we’d be spending a ton of time together.

“My favorite color is yellow. Because I’m yellow,” I told him, “And I don’t really know many pens. Galen tends to only use pencils.”

“That’s so cool!” Elvin shouted, “Pencils are awesome, mostly because I’ll only ever interact with pencils. Because I’m an eraser!”

He continued his blubbering at high speeds.

“So where’d you come from? That kid Gavin--”

“Galen.”

“Sorry, Galen, must’ve bought us at the same store. I thought it was a really sketchy store though. The floor was way too dirty, and the lights were really weird. Also, the box I was in was super uncomfortable...”


Part XIII: Counseling

Instead of taking notes in math class, Galen was writing with me and erasing my mistakes with Elvin, who still would not shut up.

“What’s a polynomial?” He inquired, watching the teacher draw a strange shape on the board, “Wow, that’s a funny looking shape.”

Galen picked me back up and resumed writing.

“You don’t smile very much, do you Piper?” Elvin wondered, “I think you should smile more. In fact--”

A gentle rap on the classroom door stopped his babbling. All of the students turned their heads and watched as a young and intimidating woman wearing an blue power suit strutted into the room.

“Galen Anderson?” She called.

Galen stopped writing with me and raised his hand into the air.

“Ah good, you’re here,” the woman sighed, not sounding at all relieved, “Can you pack up your things and come with me please?”

The other students in the room jokingly kept asking him, “what’d you do Galen” as he picked Elvin and I up, and followed the woman in the blue suit out of the room.

“What are we doing?” Galen wondered, matching the woman’s pace as they walked down the hallway.

“Just checking to see how you’re doing,” the woman replied, “after that fight you had, I figured it would be best to--”

“Pull me out of math class?” Galen interrupted, “I had a study hall before math class, and I have another one after. You had to pull me out of my math class though?”

We walked into the guidance office and into a room labeled ‘Miss Naylene’. She gestured to a comfy looking chair in her office.

“Have a seat,” she offered, sitting at her desk.

Galen hesitantly took a seat, and set Elvin and I ontop of the notebook on his lap.

“So,” Miss Naylene began, “What was the fight about?”

“The fight?” Galen echoed, “What about it?”

“What was it about?”

“Well, I was writing in the library during lunch. Those kids came in and started harassing me. They took my stuff--”

“So you punched them in the nose?”

“No--”

“Is this the first time they’ve ever harassed you?”

“No, it’s not.”

“Could you elaborate on that?”

Galen sounded like he was getting frustrated. He looked frustrated too.

“They steal my stuff,” Galen began, still sounding frustrated, “they push me around in the halls, trip me while I’m walking, throw their garbage at me on the bus, and--”

“Why haven’t you reported them for harassing you?”

“I have! Why haven’t you ever done anything?! Why did it take me going to the hospital for you to finally notice this?!”

“Now, Galen, I understand you’re upset, but--”

“Don’t tell me to calm down!” Galen shouted, very obviously upset, “Those stupid kids have been harassing me for years and no one in this school has done a single thing about it! It took a trip to the hospital for you all to finally pay attention!”

“Galen,” the Miss Naylene snapped, “I’m only trying to figure out why they treated you like that. This way--”

“They bullied me because of something I can’t fix. No one else with my condition can fix what we have.”

Condition? I thought.

“Condition?” Elvin asked me.

“Condition?” Miss Naylene echoed.

“They bullied me because they think I’m a freak,” Galen explained, “I have Cone Monochromacy, and since they don’t know what that means and don’t care to find out, they assume I’m a freak of nature or something.”

“And what exactly is Cone Monochromacy?” Miss Naylene wondered.

Galen sighed, and then answered:

“I’m completely colorblind.”


Part XIV: The Package

Galen slammed the door to his room in frustration. The remainder of the meeting with Miss Naylene had gone just as terrible as the beginning. She’d continued to grill him about what those kids had done to him, and it had made Galen extremely upset. At one point, I thought I saw a tear run down his face.

“Did you know Galen was colorblind?” Elvin asked me, “I definitely did not, and you looked extremely surprised when he said that--”

“Do you think I would’ve kept something like that from you?” I asked.

“Well, I mean, you don’t seem to like me very much, so it wouldn’t surprise me if you keep things from me.”

That hit me like a punch to the gut.

“I like you,” I told him, “I just think you talk a little too much.”

“Galen?” Someone called, “Are you alright? You’re home from school early.”

I glanced at the clock, and realized that Galen had ditched his last class after the meeting with Miss Naylene. The door slowly creaked open, and Galen’s mother poked her head into the room.

“I got an email from your guidance counselor,” she began, “You had a meeting with her today, didn’t you? How’d it go?”

“I don’t wanna talk about it,” Galen replied, “I want to finish this chapter. It’s the last one.”

“Are you sending it in for publication this time?”

Galen frowned, and furrowed his brows, as he often did when he was deep in thought.

“Publication?” Elvin asked innocently.

I glanced at the books that lined Galen’s bookshelf in his room, and then thought back to the books in the library at school.

“The book Galen is writing could be a real book, on real shelves--”

“It already is a real book,” Elvin interrupted, “Just because it doesn’t have a fancy cover, doesn’t mean that it’s not a ‘real book’.”

“Maybe I will,” Galen said, “I just gotta think about it.”

Galen’s mom nodded slowly and smiled.

“I’ll leave you to it then.”

Then she left, gently closing the door behind her. Galen grabbed his notebook and tossed it on his desk. He reached for Elvin and I.

“Let’s finish this,” he muttered, sliding into his desk chair and twirling me over.

📖 📖 📖

Galen slammed the car door shut and walked around to the passenger side. I was tucked behind his ear, anxiously watching. He opened the passenger side door, and pulled out a small, rectangular box. Inside of it, he had all five of his notebooks, filled with his novel-to-be. They were labeled “One”, “Two”, “Three”, and so forth. The box was taped securely shut, and was labeled with stamps and stickers. I glanced at the building we were next to as Galen picked up the box. The sign on the side of the road read “United States Postal Service”.

Galen shut the door, and cradling the box in his arms, marched confidently through the door of the building.

“Hello there,” an adorable older lady sang, “How can I help you today?”

Galen gently set his package on the counter.

“I need to send this package to New York,” Galen began, “I’ve already paid for the stamps and stickers. I just need it weighed.”

The lady grabbed the package and dropped it on a scale. She entered a number into her computer and listed off a price. Galen dug through his wallet, and handed the lady the proper amount of change.

“Thank you,” she told him, taking the package and setting it on a cart behind her, “I’ll get that taken care of.”

Galen thanked her and proceeded to exit the building. As he climbed in the driver’s seat of the car, Elvin shouted to me from atop his perch of the console,

“How’d it go?!”

I sighed nervously as Galen started the car.

“Now we wait.”


Part XV: Waiting Game

One week after Galen dropped off his package at the post office, he started to get anxious for a reply. He sat outside by the mailbox every single day until the mailman came, and then he’d scramble to check the mail. When there was nothing with his name on it, he’d frown and trudge back up to the house. I think the mailman started to feel bad for him, because instead of putting it into the mailbox, he’d just hand all the letters to Galen and say,

“Nothing for you today, bud. Sorry.”

Elvin didn’t like sitting around and waiting.

“Why isn’t he writing out here?” He complained one afternoon, “I feel so useless! If he’s not going to write, why not leave us inside?!”

I glanced both ways down the street. No mail van yet.

“Because he’s excited,” I replied, “Don’t you ever get excited about anything Elvin?”

“I get excited about erasing mistakes!” Elvin groaned, “So that way errors don’t exist anymore.”

A leaf blew across the road, and Galen jumped up excitedly, thinking it was the mailman. When he realized it wasn’t, he sat back down.

“You sound like a perfectionist,” I told Elvin.

“That’s because I am,” he replied, “I don’t like mistakes. They’re ugly.”

“Mistakes happen,” I said, “They have to exist, otherwise we wouldn’t learn anything.”

Elvin was quiet for a bit.

“When did you get so wise?” He wondered.

“I must’ve picked it up from Galen,” I joked.

The mailman pulled up just then and reached beside him.

“I’ve got something for you today!” He called from the truck.

Galen scrambled to his feet and raced to the mailman’s outstretched hand. He grabbed the mail, thanked the mailman, and raced back up the driveway.

“He needs to slow down!” Elvin shouted, “I’m gonna fall out of his pocket!”

Fortunately, we all made it into the house.

“Why are you so excited?” Galen’s mother asked, setting some raw pasta into a pot of boiling water.

“Something came!” Galen squealed, sorting through the mail.

He found the one with his name on it, tore the envelope open, and yanked out the paper inside.

“What does it say?” His mother wondered.


Galen Anderson,

The faculty and staff here at Skystead High School would like to congratulate you on your acceptance into the National Honor Society. The acceptance ceremony will be held on May 17th, at 6:00 sharp. Be sure to be dressed in formal attire, as this is a prestigious ceremony, and is held in high regards by the entire school district.

Signed,

Principle Ronald Hues


Galen sighed in annoyance.

“Just some school event,” he sighed.

“I’m sure a response will come soon,” his mother consoled, “Remember, they need to read your entire book, and discuss it. I imagine it will take quite some time.”

Galen frowned.

“Quite some time couldn’t pass fast enough.”


Part XVI: Finale

“The mailman is late,” Elvin stated, as if it wasn't already incredibly obvious.

The mailman usually arrived around four. It was going on five thirty. At that point,  saying the mailman was late would've been like saying the sky was blue.

“We know,” I sighed.

Elvin and I were sitting in the pocket of Galen’s shirt, perhaps too close for comfort. I wasn't sure that I enjoyed it. Especially since Elvin was too short to see out of the pocket, so he was constantly asking me how the weather had changed and if I could see the mailman or not. It was rather annoying.

“Piper?” Elvin began, “Can you see the mailman yet?”

“You'll know when I see the mailman, because Galen will get up,” I replied.

“Piper?” Elvin asked meekly.

I did my best to hide my annoyed groan.

“What?”

“When you were sleeping last night, I was watching you--"

“You did what?” I echoed.

“...and I just really wanted to tell you that when you drool...”

“I drool in my sleep?!” I cried.

“...I think you look really adorable,” he finished.

I paused, taken aback.

“Excuse me?”

“I think you look cute when you drool in your sleep.”

Suddenly, Galen shot to his feet and raced to the end of the driveway. I barely noticed the mailman and Galen as they talked about a pile up on the freeway.

“Why do you watch me when I sleep? That's creepy!” I exclaimed.

“I watch you all the time,” Elvin told me.

“That doesn't help your case!” I shouted.

“Nothing?” Galen asked, “Still nothing?”

I stopped, and focused completely on the conversation between Galen and the mailman.

“I'm sorry, kid,” the mailman said, “but I'm not even sure if anything is coming at this point.”

That must've hit Galen like a brick to the face. His face fell, and the mailman held out a pile of letters, looking apologetic. Galen took the letters, thanked the mailman, and began a slow trudge up the driveway. His mother opened the door as he neared the house.

“Still nothing?” She asked.

“Nope.”

Galen tossed the letters on the table and trudged upstairs. Elvin nudged me.

“I'm sorry if you think I'm creepy,” he began, “but ever since the first day we met, all I've ever seen is how wonderful you are. All these cool new things I learn about you make me like you more. You're pretty cool, Piper.”

“Galen!” Galen’s mom shouted, “Get down here!”

Galen turned around and began a slow trek downstairs.

“I like you,” Elvin admitted.

I thought back over the course of my time with Elvin. Yeah, he'd been pretty annoying. Yeah, he'd made some corny jokes. Sure, he watched me while I slept. But he'd grown on me. He'd grown on me like a fungus, but he'd still grown on me.

“I think...I think I like you too,” I admitted.

“Are you Galen Anderson?” A voice inquired.

I looked up. There was a tall man in a suit standing in the doorway of the house. He was flashing a billion dollar smile at Galen.

“Yeah.”

Galen stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jeans.

“I'm Mark, from Imagine Publishing,” Mark began, “That book you sent us needs a little work.”

I felt Galen’s shoulders sag in disappointment.

“You came all the way here to tell me that it needs work?” He muttered, humiliated.

“Yes,” Mark began, “It needs a title. A hardcover. A biography. A picture of it's author. And the Imagine Publishing logo on the spine, right below your name.”

Galen paused. His mother gasped. My eyes got wide. I think Elvin threw up.

“What?” Galen breathed in disbelief.

“I speak for Imagine Publishing when I say that I'd like to put that book you sent us on shelves all over the country,” Mark explained, “What you sent us was fresh. Creative. Beautiful. Poetic. We want to make a deal with you. We want to help you become the next best author in the country.”

Galen seemed astounded.

“Are you serious?” He asked, incredulous.

“Serious as ever,” Mark promised, extending his hand, “What do you say?”

Elvin and I glanced at each other.

“Looks like you're stuck with me for a while,” I joked.

“I wouldn't have it any other way,” Elvin replied.

Then, Galen reached out, and shook Mark's hand.
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