“Mom, do you have a pencil?” I stood at the top of the stairs, waiting for an answer that didn’t come. “Mom! I need a pencil or a pen!” My voice grew louder as my frustration rose, “Mom!”
I needed a pencil because I thought I may have figured out the next clue. In order to be the author of my own fate as the clue suggested, I needed to finish the story. It made perfect sense when I combined the clue with the empty pages in the back of the manuscript.
Finally, her soft voice reverberated up the stairs, “I am not going to scream a conversation with you. If you want to speak with me, come down here, you know this Sweetie.”
With a roll of my eyes and an exasperated sigh, I descended the stairs. Upon reaching the halfway point, I lowered my head and leaned out over the railing so I could see my mother. She was wiping down some knickknacks before placing them on a shelf my father was just finishing hanging on the wall. I just watched them, tight-lipped until my mother glanced up at me.
“I need a pen or pencil.”
She looked away from me and placed a figurine on the shelf, “We can talk once you come down the stairs.”
I slapped the railing in frustration, “Seriously? I’m right here!”
My father placed the drill he used to hang the shelf on the table with a bang, “Isaiah,” the level of his voice rose to a level just short of yelling, “If you want to speak to your mother, then come down the stairs like she asked.”
Knowing this was a lost battle, I swallowed my rude reply before it crossed my lips and went down the rest of the way.
“I need a pencil or something to write with.” “Please.” Even though it lacked authenticity, I got the please in before they could remind me, winning a small battle of my own.
“They should be in here.” Mom walked into the kitchen, a small nod of her head and shoulders indicating I should follow.
She opened a small box sitting on the kitchen table and rummaged around for a moment.
She held up two pencils, “Mechanical or regular?”
“It doesn’t matter,” I quipped as I took both from her hand and headed back to the stairs.
“You’re welcome,” There was an expectant tone in her voice as she followed me out of the kitchen.
My chin dropped to my chest, “Thanks.” It turns out I hadn’t won the little battle of manners after all. I decided to consider it a draw as I sprinted up the stairs to a chorus of “Don’t run on the stairs!”
Pencil in hand, I planted myself on my bed and picked up the book. I had already opened it to the first blank page.
With squinted eyes, I tapped the pencil eraser on my chin. “Hmm.”
I had never written a story before, so I was a little overwhelmed at the idea. With a shrug of my shoulders, I decided to just write whatever came to mind. It didn’t matter if it was good or not, no one would ever read it but me.
The story ended with the hero dangling over a fog-filled precipice. His enemy stood above him, cackling as he watched the hero struggle. I decided to make the hero release his grip and plummet into the fog so I placed the pencil on the paper and wrote but no words appeared on the paper.
I turned the mechanical pencil over and saw there was no tip. I pressed the eraser in a few times to extend the graphite, only to discover the pencil was empty.
“Seriously?” I tossed the pencil across the room and picked up the wooden one from beside me on the bed as the mechanical one clattered off the wall and rolled under the dresser.
The tip of the wooden pencil was dull, but there was definitely a tip, so I placed it on the paper and began to write again. Once again no words appeared on the paper.
“Come on!” I scribbled fiercely on the bottom of the page, but nothing appeared.
The clue said I had to be the author of my own fate; it had to mean I had to finish the story. But how could I finish the story if I couldn’t write on the paper? I dropped the book on my bed and went to ask my parents for another pencil or a pen.
When I reached the stairs, I opened my mouth to yell to my mother, but I cut myself off and decided to just go down and talk to her. She would make me anyway.
“These pencils don’t work. Do you have another one? Or a pen?”
Mom looked up from the box she had just broken down. “They don’t work? What do you mean?”
She had a garbage bag next to her for all the paper she had wrapped the knickknacks in, so I dropped the pencil in it. “This one won’t write and the mechanical one has no graphite.”
“That’s odd. I’m sorry though. Those were the only writing utensils I have been able to find.”
She reached into the bag and pulled out the pencil. “This looks fine to me.”
Dragging the pencil along a piece of paper she removed from the trash, she scribbled several lines. “This writes fine, honey.”
“Well, it doesn’t write on the paper I have upstairs.”
Dad entered through a door on the far side of the room, “What’s going on?”
“Isaiah needs a pencil, but he says this one won’t write on the paper he has,” Mom smiled. She always smiled whenever Dad entered the room. It was nice. Nice, but gross.
Dad turned his dark brown eyes on me, “What do you need a pencil for, Bud?”
I placed my hands on my hips. “To write something.”
“What are you writing?” They asked in unison.
“Nothing. Just writing.”
A smile creased my father’s face, “With that attitude I guess you don’t want my help.”
Mom laughed a little and shook her head as Dad drooped his head and shoulders and pretended to sulk away.
“Fine, don’t help then.” I walked passed my father and out the doorway.
“I’m sorry Buddy, I was just having a little fun. I can definitely help you,” Dad said as I passed him.
My eyes widened in anticipation as I turned back to face him, “You have a pen?”
“No. No pen. And no pencil either.”
My eyelids lowered, and I sighed. “What do you have then? A crayon? Thanks for the help.”
“Not a crayon either.” A smiled played on Dad’s lips again.
Sometimes Dad would get silly like this. It could be fun at times, but other times it just got obnoxious. This was one of those times.
“I don’t want to play this game.” I turned to leave again.
“I saw an old typewriter in the basement,” Dad called out as I walked away.