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Thursdays Are Even Days

A man relates one of his weekly misadventures while searching for pens.
The pen isn’t worth stealing: it's black with blue ink. Even worse, its cap is bent over, making it impossible to slickly place it into my breast pocket. It would have to sit on the floor of my car, eventually falling under bags and bags of trash and fast food and old coffee cups.

I remember that my car isn’t dirty. My car is never dirty.

It would lay, useless and unloved in my pencil jar on my filing desk. I could see it now: three writing utensils in from the left, next to the ballpoint pens that are black with black ink, completely violating the balanced filing system I’ve created for my pens.

I remember that today is an even day-Thursdays are even days and on even days, I collect pens: two at a time.

I have another pen, a pink one, that I acquired earlier today. It’s from Japan, something about breast cancer awareness. It writes so, so, so smoothly. It’s perfect! I almost didn’t grab it because the pen is pink and the ink is black-that's unnatural.

That pen: I’ve had it for thirty seven minutes and twenty seconds-so far, it has served me well. I’ve already written two post-its with it, things to remind me who I am, post-its like "you are the things you repeatedly do" and "the pen is an instrument of discovery."

It would be a shame if I left the black pen there because it's unnatural. Sometimes, I feel unnatural, but I try. I would hate for someone to leave me behind. The pen tries-I know it does, because we’re alike.

One is an unnatural number and I’ve had an unnatural number of pens with me for thirty seven minutes and fifty six seconds.

My hands itch, my fingers feel like they’re on fire and I don’t know how much longer I can deal with all of these unnatural things.

My left eye twitches two times. My eyes already know better than to be unnatural.

"Sir," the brown-clad delivery man urges, "I’d like to ask you to either sign for the packages or let me go. I have places I need to be." He stood on my porch stairs, right in front of me. His package-truck was outside my house, too, in the street. It's a busy, busy, busy street, like the man seems to be.

Busy man. Busy pen? My gaze flickers down to his hands, to the pen. Smooth. Looks average, looks like a new friend: black with blue ink. That'd make for two pens; it'd make me feel more secure.

Safe.

I chew my lip, growing evermore aware how fitting the pen will look, despite it’s bent cap: it will complete my collection-complete me. By the slightly scratched exterior, the pen must work hard-I work hard. The man at my door probably works hard, trying to keep pens away from deserving people. Trying to keep pens away from me.

I feel my heartbeat faster.

He stares at me accusingly, knowingly-knowing how much I want the pen, knowing he doesn’t have to give it to me. Unless I make him do it. Yes, that’s right, I could make him do it! Then I could keep it forever.

His arm falls, taking the pen away with it.
"Listen, sir, I’ll come back again later. I can’t play this game right now."
He can’t play "this game" right now.
Game?

I screech, grabbing his shoulders. Something overtakes me, something strange and... Nice. It makes me feel powerful.
I pull him into the house and throw him to the floor.
"Give me it."

"You can have the package! Just take it! I don’t want it! Let me go, please." He is awkwardly submissive. He thinks I want the package; he’s such a silly man.

"No," I tell him, "I don’t want that. Give me the pen."
"What?"
"The pen. I want it."
He began to get up. I kick him.
"Here, here, here. Just take the pen! Christ!"
He gives me the pen.
"Stay," I tell him, "you will wait."
He says nothing.

I walk across the living room, symmetrical gray furniture on each side of the room: a table, a chair and a love-seat. A TV placed exactly in the center of the room on the far wall. I see that he’s entirely on the left side and drag him to the middle of the room.

Even.
Thursdays are even days.

I’m so relieved to finally have my pen: I caress it in my hands. So, so, so happy. It’s the first time I’ve smiled in days: I have an even number of pens on an even day. Today is a happy day.

I find a piece of paper and try to write on it--try to write a thank you note to the man who let me take his pen. That was nice of him. He didn't let me have it right away, but he is still nice, because he's staying in the middle of the floor where he's supposed to be.

The pen does not write on the paper.
I feel irate.
This isn’t right: one pen works, one pen doesn’t work. There’s one of each, but they’re not the same thing. He ruined my plan. This isn’t an even day anymore.

This is unacceptable. I turn on my heel and stab him with his useless, broken pen. His blood splatters asymmetrically across my floor.
By
Published: 7/30/2015
Bouquets and Brickbats
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