Joe Cary

No one’s made a move yet among the hushed chatter and as we pitch and yaw something from the overhead bins caroms off my shoulder and I stare uncertain at my pen, safe in my grip, the fancy one she gave me on our first birthday together, Every aspiring writer needs a good pen, she’d said, and I didn’t tell her, Not a writer who’s lost every pen he’s ever had, who prefers the silent glide of a ball point to the scritch-scratch of a fountain pen, but I know she sensed my unease and saw through my mask, a burden not a gift (and yet here it is with me now), never mind how unwieldy and heavy it is or how many shirts and sofa cushions and car seats I’ve stained out of forgetfulness about the cap, no, not the pen for me and yet it’s the thought that counts, and waiting for my turn on the airphone I’m reminded of how very often she has thought of me, even if clumsily or off the mark, she has thought of me—Can you believe this was at a garage sale/I found the perfect bookstore for you/The other store had your size/I saved you the last piece—and her voice is huddled here with me and I am seeing what it means, the mechanics of thinking of me/doing for me, putting aside what she wanted or what she had planned in order to do something selfless for me, putting me first was what mattered, not the object, and here I caress the snug engraving on the clip—4 My 4ever Love—even in this moment she reminds me, yet…yet, will she ever know how here, right now, this pen looks different, feels heavier and is reborn into precisely what I need: a spearing weapon, not so sharp as the blades they used in the cockpit, but it will do damage if my will is in it and to test my will I write her name on the smooth belly of my forearm pressing harder with each stroke witnessing how easily a Mont Blanc tears skin and the blue ink of HANNAH beckons my red blood and they rill as one for we are together in this and the pain tells me it will be okay and I want so badly to be with you and say thank you again, thank you for the first time really, my forever love, but the man beside me is keening, both hands clenching the airphone, and from across the aisle comes “Let’s Roll!” and I am up and moving, spear in hand.

Joe Cary lives with his family in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in One Story, Every Day Fiction, and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter @JoeCary5150.
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