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.


48 Responses to “Magpie Tales - Pencils”

  1. susan deborah Says:

    A story about not writing a story. How well-knit it flows.
    Can I ask the magpie for some pencils.

    Joy always,

  2. Jeanne Says:

    Angie…I loved, loved, loved this!
    What a voice you have…I never cease to be amazed. It is thoughtful, gripping, tugs at your heart strings and leaves you wanting more….to see.

    Yesterday, I wandered into an art shop and came out with a dozen new pencils. Not sure why but they called out to me. Now this…

    As always…well done you!


  3. deb @ talk at the table Says:

    ah, Angie..
    so perfectly crafted.
    this is the preface to a novel?

    I will be here when you are, hope that summer shines glory into you and your beautiful family. Hope that you find time to share some of it with us. You bless.

    and thank you for your kind comment on my post. I was a little nervous to hit publish… it was longer than my usual writings. thank you so much for taking the time to read and encourage, I appreciate it so much.

    love to you

  4. French Fancy Says:

    I can’t decide whether I like your stories best or your beautiful photos of the family and tales of what you have been doing. I don’t blame you though for wanting to limit your time in the blogosphere now that summer is here. You have three very important people who need you more than we do (although we need you too, Angie)


  5. Jessica Says:

    Intriguing! Very well-written. :-)

  6. Susan Says:

    Excellent pov use & inherent tension, A. We might be working on similar books, this narrator & I. Maybe not.

    I use a pen, though I do love a good soft–but-sharp #1.5–it makes a good counterpoint. (Sorry:)

  7. Becky Ramsey Says:

    Stunning. I want to read more. Really.

  8. Elaine of Kalilily Says:

    Beautifully crafted. Grabs you by the gut. Want to know more. Love it!

  9. Ava Says:

    I read this holding my breath. What a gift you have for writing stories!

  10. Gigi Says:

    What a wonderful last sentence, Angie!!!

  11. Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita Says:

    You craft such powerful imagery with so few words. Well done!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Jena Says:

    You have so much talent Angie! Great story, great writing!!!

  13. Helen Says:

    Your Magpie is truly gripping and very well written!

  14. barbara Says:

    Great story- how we each see our life story in such a different life, even from the ones we are closest to. bkm

  15. Aoife.Troxel Says:

    How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. ~Henry David Thoreau

    Funny how the narrator told his story by talking about not telling his story, if you get what I mean. I liked the irony of being a brilliant writer when he had no experience, and when he had experience, not being able to write about it. I also totally agree with his love for pencils :D

  16. pamela Says:

    Wonderful, Angie!!

  17. Kathe W. Says:

    attention getting story-more please. Wonderfully written Magpie.

  18. brenda w Says:

    This Magpie engages the reader from start to finish. Leaves them wanting more, more, more! I’m glad you’ll be posting this summer. I definitely will read more.

    Well done!

  19. angiem Says:

    Thank you, dear friends. A happy weekend to all of you! :)

  20. laura Says:

    I have missed your rich storytelling, Angie. Life has been crazy, I know it’s the same for everyone. But I miss this place when I can’t stop by. You have such a gift. I am hoping summer will move at a slower pace. I’ll check in on you. Happy sunshine days…

  21. Sue J Says:

    Excellent writing - leaves you wanting more.

  22. Francesca Says:

    What a sad, sad story. Tragedy, isolation,and consequent inability to share and connect. Beautifully written.

  23. Corinne Says:

    Angie, this was painful and real and breathtaking. I love it when you write fiction :) Hope you’re enjoying the summer!

  24. Holly L Says:

    I can imagine the pain, the anguish, the sadness so clearly. Every time you write you evoke such emotions. You are so gifted.

  25. willow Says:

    This made me longing to hear his story!

  26. Maureen Says:

    Although fiction, it draws from real life and it embraces you! Perhaps you should consider writing a bio for one who has suffer so. Their true stories need to be told. Thanks for helping us remember them.

  27. Susu Paris Chic Says:

    Just write your dear heart out, sweet Angie! At your strawberry-flavored summer pace;) We never get enough. I love ya, gal!

  28. Alice: writer, traveller, dreamer Says:

    oh how I love this story! I wonder if you will be posting just once a week because it’s summer, or because you will also be wearing your own pencils down? x

  29. annie Says:

    As I read this, Angie, my idea of the country escaped from kept on changing. In the end, it wasn’t the where that was important; it was the what. This can and does happen anywhere and everywhere. Fear and cruelty are powerful enemies. When he finds inner peace, the power will at last be gone.

  30. Lyn Says:

    Just swept away by this one..and in not’ve all you have to do is fill in all the details..or not!!
    Thanks for the treat.

  31. audrey Says:

    hi Angie, there is something incredibly special about stories, they draw us in and transform us and entertain us at the same time.

    i love your stories. i really always feel like i’m pulling up a seat at your kitchen table, and we girls can talk, and i can hear what you are thinking about, imagining…

    incredibly nice! have a sweet day, dear You:)

  32. Englishvers Says:

    So beautifully crafted - your pearls of words always has a positive effect on my soul. Write on, dear one, write on! ;-)

  33. Patience Ray Says:

    Wow, this is heart wrenching. You really did an amazing job with this Magpie, def. one of my faves. Great emotion.

  34. RA Says:

    Stunningly beautiful. Thank you.

  35. Jane Jones Says:

    Dear Angie: Excellent story! This story reminds me of a holocaust or a POW account of WWII? Is it a close relative? I do think this to be the case. This story is a sensitive portrait of an historical epoch from a personal account. There is a certain poetic license in this short story which give a romantic quality and elusiveness to the story. Subjectively written in the third person narrative makes this an wholly intriguing read! This line is brilliant and is pure poetry!
    “Her idea of escape isn’t mine, and my idea of a life isn’t hers”

  36. brian miller Says:

    all it takes is one…to start….its the starting that seems to be the problem. smiles. intriguing magpie…and i hope you have a great summer!

  37. D.S. Lear Says:

    Well Done!

  38. Christie Says:

    You have such amazing talent! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  39. Stafford Says:

    Does a survivor have an obligation to tell his story? Maybe less for himself than for the ones who didn’t make it over. Get to work! :-)

  40. Jennifer Says:

    Wow - lots of power. Nice, concise language. This was a really good read.

  41. Bunny Says:

    Angie, you once again leave me transported to another world by your words, clinging to each and every one longing for more!
    I am always inspired here.

  42. julie Says:

    You have a such a gift with words.. you take us on a journey…and leave us wanting more….you write with such heart that it is hard to imagine you are not telling your own family stories… I suspect your words, characters and stories have become your family members too…

    Thank you for you sweet sweet comment my friend.. brightened my day… xxx Julie

  43. Sabine Says:

    Oh Angie, this short piece immediately gets under my skin. Are you working on a ‘proper’ novel yet? If not, you really should start! xxx

  44. Lena Says:

    What an astounding story. I could almost feel the pain. So intense. This has used the prompt wonderfully!

  45. Diane Says:

    Great tale to not tell.

    I’ll keep my eyes peeled for when you do write. Hope you are not too busy this summer. :O)

  46. Kristin Says:

    Totally riveting!

  47. Elisa_Croatia Says:

    Angie, I feel like standing up and giving you an applause, bravo!

    Have a wonderful summer with you family and as always looking forward to your writing. Such imagination. brilliant.

  48. kelleyn Says:

    OMG! This little short story is fantastic. I am licking my lips as if I had just devoured a piece of salted carmel wrapped in dark chocolate. Good JOb!

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