I broke the yellow, #2 pencil in half. Looking down at its jagged ends, I felt an invisible fist close on my heart like a squishy stress ball. Such a silly memento – just a little, used, wooden, pock-marked pencil. But it was all I had left of Jenny. I could picture her struggling over math homework, gnashing her teeth against the soft wood. Sometimes, little yellow flecks of paint would stick to her lip, and I would laugh and brush them away. She’d swat at my hand and scowl, thinking I was laughing over her frustration. “Leave me alone!” I tried to kiss away the hot tears, but she’d duck away and slam the door. Always those little disconnects – the baffling near-misses of the heart. Even love can’t always decipher another’s thoughts.
I hadn’t cried the day I found her note. There was a search to organize; flyers to print up; a lost child to be found. “Ma’am, you say she’s fifteen?” Still a child, still lost. Confused and hurting. I picked up the sharpened, #2 pencil she’d used to write the note – “I can’t stay here anymore. I don’t fit in anywhere. Don’t try to find me…” I jabbed its graphite point into the palm of my hand until it drew blood. And then I used that same pencil to write out a description of Jenny, what our last words to each other had been, what she’d taken with her – which was everything, including my heart.
“Good in a crisis” – that’s what they’ll write in my obit, one of these days. But now, the voice attached to the uniformed man standing at my doorstep, asking if he and his partner could come inside to tell me something – that voice caused things inside me to crack in two, just like the little pencil. “Please, won’t you sit down?” Slumped in a chair, I didn’t bother trying to wipe away my pent-up, useless tears. I tried to fit the jagged ends of that pencil back together like it was the most important thing in the world. That was Jenny and me – that pencil – and those ends just wouldn’t go, no matter how carefully I turned it and tried to make that pencil whole again.
This is #8 for StoryADay May. Not written today, but written in a day.
CATEGORY 11 – Flash Fiction – 46 ENTRIES
Category Sponsor: Given Anonymously
Judge: Trisha Leigh
Category chair: Jim Martin
FIRST PLACE: “Threading the Needle” by Eric Reitan, Member at Large
SECOND PLACE: “The #2 Pencil” by Holly Jahangiri, Pen & Keyboard Writers
THIRD PLACE: “Modern Hook-Up” by Bill Wetterman, Tulsa NightWriters
1ST HM: “Redemption” by Kelly Bristow, The Inklings
2ND HM: “Living a Lie” by Ruth Poovey, Enid Writers
3RD HM: “Safe” by Dee Dee Chumley, The Inklings
4th HM: “Skin Deep” by Tracey Thompson, Member at Large
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