Archive for June 10th, 2010

Magpie Tales - Pencils

Author: angiem, 06 10th, 2010

How many pencils does it take to write the story of one’s life?  Here I sit in my little attic room, gazing at two hundred pencils, all lined up in the top drawer of my desk.

“Start with one.” My wife whispers to me.  Her voice and eyes are gentle.  I smile at her, but I cannot start.  She prods me daily, and yet all I can do is stare at them and the next day go and buy some more.

There used to be a day, so long ago it seems it happened to someone else, that any pencil that came into my hand was put to use, writing the most elaborate stories and fantasies for anyone who would read them.  I didn’t know about life then, yet I was read widely and much appreciated not just in my country, but in those surrounding.  And just like that, in the quickest breath that time could take, the world became a nightmare, my works were destroyed, and I was a person no one wanted to associate with.

Perhaps I don’t have a story to tell, after all. Who cares, really, about a has been, other than a handful of people, and maybe not even those.  I had been imprisoned, beaten daily, my fingernails pulled, and the tips of my fingers burned with a lighter, and when they thought that I was broken, released like a dog. They opened the door and kicked me out, a heavy boot on my backside.

My wife tells me to write of how I escaped.  How I walked the one hundred miles home, only to find someone else living in it, how I begged them to allow me to spend the night, at least, and give me a hot meal, and how they turned me away, apologizing that they didn’t dare, that they feared for their lives should they do so.  I was a free man, yet, apparently no one was free to share a kindness with me.

She thinks the world needs to know how I turned away and went in search of my friends, and found none. And how I lived in the woods and foraged for something to eat, and how on the day when I couldn’t even see my shadow, how I walked to the border, and lay in wait in the tall grasses.  When the change of the guard came, I ran over the open field into the river, and swam across it expecting to be killed at any moment, yet not caring one way or another.

Her idea of escape isn’t mine, and my idea of a life isn’t hers. Perhaps when I shall figure out what to write, I will start with a pencil and find out how many it takes.

This is a work of fiction.  For the remainder of the summer season I will most likely blog only about once a week. For more, please visit Magpie Tales.