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“Does this pen write,” she begins in her journal with purple ink, finepoint faint and scratchy.

She lifts her eyes from the page to watch a young man walking back to his apartment, face upturned to the skies. He looked like a man in the middle of a heartbreak needing to hear the answer, and hear it now. She watches him retreat into his apartment, slamming the door.

“Does this pen write,” she asks of her journal once more.

She posits on the page that it’s not a compelling tale unless Bambi’s mother dies.  Nobody wants to read that once upon a time there was a good queen and a good king who raised a perfect prince, that nobody lied and nobody died. Where’s the grit in the reader’s teeth for characters they love to hate, turning pages in hopes it will all work out in the end?  Is our need for grit what drives some literary imperative that the tale must be tragic—or worse–have an ambiguous end where the reader gets to decide?  “Well is it,” she demands her journal answer. It remains silent; a rock instead of crystal ball.

“Does this pen write,” she asks her journal one morning, but the answer was unclear.  There’s a movie reel playing in her head that hisses and skips, showing her flashback scenes from the bad old days that reopens old wounds, and sometimes it plays so loudly it drowns out the world.  It’s what bleeds through the books she’s trying to read, her thoughts as she walks alone. It leaves wet fingerprints on her eyes. Now she wants to know if her Daddy ever read to her because she does not remember.  “Did he ever read to me from a little pink book, soft words that rhythmed and rhymed, trickle tumbling like rain on the pane? Did he ever want his Daddy to read to him,” she asks her journal in black. Silence.

She’ll never know the answers now, but she’s got plenty of time to wonder. She considered making up answers to stop the bloody flow of questions, but what difference would it make in the end if he did—or did not?  She reminds her journal in blue that it does not matter today if Daddy thought she was good enough, and that he’s not here to read the best poem she’s ever written, polished to a nub, and marked with postage. She sorrows to know that no one is coming to wash the sins from her bones, untwist her heart, or bring home some kind of happy ending. Only she and her pen get to decide the hero’s end, and she smiles because she knows it would make her Daddy proud that she just finished the damned thing at all.

“This pen is microscope, it is centrifuge.  It threads the needle to write the story and heal the wound,” she notifies her journal before closing it.  Her journal approves.