The Pen


The following is a short story about how a broken pen can cause serious damage.

Olivia Chadwick

I sat with a table group in my English class. We had been given a writing assignment that was due at the end of class. I received a writing prompt and I already had an absolute explosion of ideas. I pulled out a white crisp paper, a perfectly sharpened pencil, and a pen for my final draft: to make it look pretty, of course! I began to write, my pencil gliding across the page like an ice-skater on a frozen lake. When I was done with my first draft, I still had loads of time to write. I began to edit my paper and started my final draft with my pen.

Not even ten minutes later, my pen stopped working. I tried banging it quietly on the table, twisting the tip, and even checking the ink cartridge. Nothing seemed wrong with it. I finally gave up and went to my teacher for a pass to the restroom, where I could repair the pen without prying eyes. She thankfully obliged and gave me a pass. This was my final attempt to fix it and there was a chance it could get loud. I went to the restroom and hit the pen on every hard surface I could find. I saw the bathroom sink and, as forcefully as I could, hit the surface with the pen.

As if in slow motion, the pen flew from my grasp into the air, gushing ink all over the mirrors and sinks in front of me. The pen fell to the ground and the ink finally stopped spilling out. I carefully picked the pen up and looked at the mess. Ink dripped from the mirrors, adding to the puddles of ink on the linoleum tiles. It was a monstrosity of a sight and I knew it couldn’t be cleaned. Luckily, no ink had splattered on me, so I ran out of there, my feet squeaking on the linoleum tiles as I rushed to class. I slowed down and took a few calming breaths before I opened the door. As I sat down, I decided to ask my dad to fix it after school.  I left the pen on my table, grabbed another pen from my bag, and quickly started writing again.

“Hey! Psst, Pauleen! Psst!”

I looked up and turned in the direction of the voice. It was the boy in my table group, what was his name? Mike?

“What do you want? Can’t you see I’m working?” My voice came off sharper than I intended; I just wasn’t in the mood.

“Can I borrow your pen?” I saw him pointing at the dreaded pen.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because I said so.”

“That’s not a good excuse.”

I don’t know why I just didn’t just tell him it was broken. Maybe it was a brain fart. I continued working, determined to finish my assignment. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his hand reaching for the pen sneakily.

“Don’t do that,” I said without looking up.

“Why won’t you let me borrow it?”  

“Because I said so.”

“Have to give me a better reason than that.”

It went back and forth like that for the next twenty minutes and I was just about to crack. Suddenly, I had an idea. I looked him in the eyes as he begged yet again.

“Please?”

I smiled. “Fine, you can use it. I’m done fighting.”

He looked pleased and accomplished (and maybe even a little suspicious from my sudden graciousness and unnatural smile) as he grabbed my pen. I pretended to focus on my work, taking small glances to watch him. At first, the pen worked smoothly. Did it start working after the ink explosion? I thought. I took a deep breath. The pen predictably stopped working. I watched Mike as he looked at the pen with a confused expression as if it were some advanced calculus problem he was asked to solve. He started scribbling on some scratch paper, but no ink would come out. He shook the pen, hit the pen loudly on the table, and did whatever else he could think of. By this point, the whole class was glaring at him. begging with their eyes for him to stop.

I shook my head; he was as stubborn as a mule. With one last attempt, Mike threw it on his table and I heard a minuscule pop! A second later, I was looking at his startled face as ink suddenly appeared, splattered all over his face, shirt, and pants. It was even all over his desk too, staining all his papers . I had to cover my face with my desk to keep from laughing out loud.

Definitely a brain fart.

“What in the name of —?”

I looked over and saw Mrs. Holt, my English teacher, get up from her desk where she was doing very important work.

Mike looked at me accusingly. “She gave me a faulty pen!” He was pointing directly at me. I tried to show no emotion.

Mrs. Holt finally reached us and gasped.

“Janitor’s going to have a real fit when he sees this,” said the girl sitting across from me.

Mrs. Holt looked at the crime scene; there was a huge mess.

“Alright kids,” She said as I flinched. “I need all of your help to clean up what we can. Let’s get going!”

While we were cleaning, Mrs. Holt brought Mike up to her desk. I continued to clean until I heard my name being called. I turned and walked over to her desk. Mrs. Holt looked like she was ready to break down from stress, while Mike’s face was turning a fierce red.

“You called me, Mrs. Holt?”

“Yes, Pauleen. I believe things need to be cleared up for me if you don’t mind. Micah here,” She pointed at Mike. Of course! How could I have forgotten his name? “has told me his part of the story, so now I want to hear your side.”

I took a deep breath. “I was working on my writing assignment when Mike — I mean Micah asked if he could borrow my pen. I said no, but after a while of his begging, I finally gave it to him. Then boom.”

I used my hands to accentuate the ink explosion.

Mrs. Holt looked at me with a stern look in her eyes. “Why didn’t you want him to use your pen if it was just sitting on your desk not being used?”

Oh, shoot. I started to panic as my mind scrambled to deliver an excuse. I tried to project confidence as I said, “I kept it out because my other pen was low on ink, so I could use it if my first pen ran out.”

Mrs. Holt gave me an exhausted look as I said this and I started to panic again. It seemed as though she knew exactly what was going on.

Finally, she said,” Alright well, I think that settles it.”

She stood from her seat. “It was just an accident. You may both go back with the others to finish cleaning.”

I was happy that I was let off the hook, but poor little Micah had other ideas. His face was even redder than before. “Are you kidding me?!” he shouted.

Mrs. Holt and I looked at him in shock. Even the class turned to see what was happening.

“She deliberately broke the pen and then gave it to me to embarrass myself! Don’t you see that?!”

He continued to scream about my vile intentions, but I couldn’t hear him as Mrs. Holt finally regained control and dragged him, by the arm, out the door. I didn’t understand half of what they were talking about, but I think I heard the word detention being thrown around. After a couple of minutes, Mrs. Holt came back in. She looked dead as went up to the front of the class.

“Hello! Can I get everyone’s attention?”

Everyone stopped cleaning again as they looked at their teacher, a dead stare in her eyes.

“Since this incident has messed up our schedule, you guys can finish the assignment next class.”

The class cheered as they rushed back to their tables and cleaned up their stuff. While everyone was packing their backpacks, Micah came into the classroom as quietly as possible. He was wearing different clothes and had ink stains on his face and hands. I guessed that he got different clothes from the lost and found, changing in the bathroom while scrubbing the ink off of his skin. The bell rang and everyone fled the classroom. I was just about to leave when Micah stopped me in the doorway. I was scared of what was going to happen. However, when I looked at him, he looked guilty.

“Hey, I just wanted to apologize really quick about how I acted. It was not your fault that the pen exploded. I’m sorry, can you forgive me?”

I don’t know why he changed emotions so quickly, but it seemed sincere. I couldn’t help but smile. Not to mention I had to keep from laughing at his ink-stained face.

“Thanks for the apology, I forgive you.”

He smiled in relief and started to leave. That’s when I got another idea.

“Hey, Micah!”

He turned to look at me. I didn’t wait for his reply. “Do you want the pen? I don’t want it.” In my recollection, someone had thrown it away. It still didn’t hurt to tease him a bit, though.

He looked panicked and quickly stuttered, “No! I mean … no thanks. I didn’t like that pen.” I smiled as he dashed away.

I was definitely an evil person.

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