by Patrick Elliot
The nurse woke me when my heart monitor slowed again. One good thing about this “home for the geriatricly re-enabled” is the nurses. They ensure we don’t die in our sleep, mostly. Some of my fellow inmates hate that. I’d rather go out on my feet.
I write in this journal every day; always with my favorite pen. Today it is working in fits, only half of each letter showing up. Those halves are ghostly, semi-transparent. It makes me wonder who stole it. Someone is always stealing it.
I wish my pulse would race. In anger it should, so why does it continue so slowly? Calm is good for one thing though, reminiscing.
When I was a child the letters were big and blocky but the ink was strong and black. Nobody stole my pen then. Only I saw how great it was.
The trouble started when I was a teen. The ink still ran the color of sin, a thing all teenagers know intimately, but it was no longer always mine. My teachers borrowed it for reports and permission slips. My parents absconded with it to write notes and lectures for me. I always knew where my ink flowed though, and the thefts made my heart run double time.
Then came marriage, when the preacher and the government stole it for the license. The ink faded a little then. My wife kept borrowing it for grocery lists, signing bills, and documents she assured me were important. At the same time, my boss kept taking it for the reports and services he insisted I perform. The stress of always worrying about my pen brought gray into my hair and painted lines on my face.
When the children came they started taking it when I wasn’t looking. They did all of the same things I did at their ages. Of course my wife and boss continued stealing it too. I noticed a fading of the ink. These same children that put me in this hole used most of my ink, stole it the most. The anger grew so dull and constant that I barely noticed it.
Now, in this forsaken place, the doctors and nurses keep stealing it for reasons I rarely remember. At times I hardly notice. The other residents take it to keep score at games that don’t matter to me. The kids barely visit, but when they do they have their hands all over my most prized possession. There are always more forms to sign, more work to do. The will must be in order. They can’t wait to get out of here, but they don’t mind stealing my pen.
I noticed the last sentence has no color at all. I don’t know who stole my pen, but less than half the words written with it were scribbled by me. Instead of scratching out more blank space I think I will close my eyes, clutching my pen to my chest. We’re both tired.