I knew my days were numbered the minute the sharpener came out, the second those fingers slid me into it and started to spin me round and round, taking off my paint, my wood, eventually my graphite.
Of course, I always knew that was going to be the case. I’d heard the rumours back in the factory. I was prepared. We’re not pens. We’re not meant to stay the same our whole lives. We change. We develop. And the sharpener does it for us.
Don’t stress, they said. Don’t worry. You can’t do anything about it. And, anyway, we’re pointless, unusable without them. They give us purpose, make us able to write, to draw, so we don’t sit around on a desk unused.
What no one told me was how quick it would all be over, how fast my journey would be from factory to box to shelf to plastic bag to pencil pot to desk to pencil case to hand and back again to desk, my length getting shorter until I became nothing but a stub, a little piece of graphite wrapped in wood with a metal end filled with a crumbling eraser.
And now I’m never used. I’m in the pencil pot. At least I think I am. I get some sunlight every so often when the pens and pencils and compasses and rulers around me get taken out, but it can only be a matter of time before I’m out of here.
I used to write. I used to draw. I outlined monsters and animals and houses and trees. I solved equations and described historical facts. I drew detailed maps of Europe and took part in a project about nocturnal animals. I translated French. I wrote lists and plans and stories. I described characters and plots. I scribbled on desks. I graffitied a locker. I marked straight lines with that ruler I no longer see anymore.
And then that pen came along and I only came out when I was needed for a picture, a diagram, a graph. I lost all my linguistic capabilities. I became a new ruler’s partner rather than something in my own right, so that now I’m – what?
A memory. A reminder of a life before pens. If I’m even that.
And what is the sum of my life? Exercise books filled but never revisited. The small outline of a hand drawn on a wall. Lines etched on a doorpost showing how tall my owner is. A page in a textbook filled with smudged, indefinable words. The shadowy lines of a bar on a graph that my owner couldn’t completely erase.
I should’ve encouraged him to gnaw at me in spite of what his mother said, got him to snap me, accidentally drop me on the floor and step on me. I should’ve never left the factory and met the sharpener. I should have never been a part of his life. I should have never been born.
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