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Grade
8

Fountain Pens

 

Bear is too old for his own good; he shouldn't have to go through all the things he does. Lilly needs to understand; she needs to understand that not everyone thinks the same way as her; that not everyone is happy.

Bear was wandering around town; he was trying to clear his head when Lilly stumbled up to him. The dusty girl about his age was smiling, the grin consuming her face.

“Hi! What’s your name?” Lilly asks bouncing on her toes, a purple fountain pen falling to the ground, “Haha oops!”

Lilly bends down and picks up her pen. Bear only flinches while rubbing his wrists, the wrists marked with scars and bruises. He checked his pants pocket for his blue fountain pen. It sat still in his pocket.

“Well my name’s Li- why do you have colors all over your arm?”

Bear flinches again.

Lilly notices this time and asks Bear, taking in no consideration of his feelings, “Do you think I’m gonna hit you?”

Bear flinches once more and fingers the chewed blue pen.

Lilly just looks curious, not asking in a mean way, just asking in a perspective of where she doesn't know right from wrong. Bear doesn't think she does know right from wrong.

Bear shrugs then looks down and mumbles, “Reflex.”

Lilly looks confused for a second, before she gets distracted and wanders off to go look at a homeless dog. Bear watches Lilly for a few seconds, in a way he’s just like that dog, beaten, bedraggled, and afraid of everyone and everything, except he’s not afraid of Lilly. And Bear is pretty sure he should be. Bear should be afraid of everything; it’s the only way to stay safe. Bear knows that.

Bear watches her go with curiosity. Lilly was interesting to him. He’d never met someone as unique as Lilly. Lilly had never met someone as unique as Bear.

Bear starts to trudge home, the pen twirling around his fingers. He doesn't really think he can define that place as home anymore. Everything that goes on there is not what should happen at homes. Bear bets that what happens at his home doesn't happen at Lilly’s home.

Bear thinks about Lilly as he walks home. He wonders what she’s doing, where she is, what she’s thinking.  Bear likes Lilly. He likes her golden hair, her light pink thin lips, her blue, blue eyes full of curiosity; he likes her clothes too, the jeans she wore today and her light yellow blouse. But Bear loves her smile, it’s a real smile, not like the one he wears, her smile is full of joy and happiness. His smile hides the pain in his eyes and in his heart. Bear’s real smile disappeared long ago.

Bear wonders if Lilly has a dad. Bear wonders if his dad had a dad. Bear wonders if his mom had a dad. Bear wonders a lot of things a ten year old should not wonder. He wonders why his mom drinks the gross beer that makes her teeth yellow and her smile ugly. Bear wonders why she throws things at him, scarring his body. Bear wonders a lot of things, a lot of things too old for his young body.

Lilly walks towards the dog, then her mind decides the dog is not as interesting as that blue flower. Lilly thinks that the blue flower would go good with Bear, then Lilly thinks about Bear. She wonders if she was supposed to flinch when people moved their arms too, or maybe that was just a Bear thing. Lilly likes Bear, she likes his pretty green eyes and his dark brown hair. But Lilly didn’t like Bear’s colors. No, Lilly did not like the colors that painted Bear’s body; those colors were bad. Lilly knew those colors were bad because once she had gotten a purple one, the same shade of purple as her pen,  and just like the purple color on Bear’s arm, and Lilly’s daddy had kissed her color and said that if someone ever gave her another color that she was to tell someone, the colors were bad. Lilly knew because her daddy said so.

Lilly used to get those colors a lot at the brick building filled with lots of other kids, but then her daddy found out and the kids stopped. Lilly likes that brick building a lot more now.

Lilly wondered if Bear had no mommy like her. Lilly wondered if her daddy had no mommy like her. Lilly wondered if her mommy had no mommy like her. Lilly missed her mommy. Daddy always told Lilly that her mommy was in a better place now. Lilly hoped so, she loved her mommy. It was her mommy who gave her the pretty purple pen.

Lilly wandered around the small town square until her daddy rushed up with a red and sweaty face, “Lilly Veronica Mills! Where have you been!? I've been looking all over town for you! Next time please, please, please, don’t wander off. Okay?”

Lilly looked up, still smiling, “Okay Daddy! Today I met someone! I don’t know his name but he was really quiet, oh and Daddy he had the bad colors all over him!” Lilly pointed to a stray color on her father’s arm.

His face paled some before he smiled lightly, “Well, I’m glad you made a new friend.”

Bear ducked and clutched his pen closer to his chest when another glass smashed the wall right behind his head. Bear’s mother had been drinking the gross beer again. Beer made her into a monster, a monster that scared Bear; Bear didn’t want to be scared anymore. Lilly made Bear feel safe. That was another reason Bear liked Lilly, she was nice and she was safe. Lilly made Bear feel at home, Bear didn’t want to leave Lilly but he had to, his mother told him he had to be back within the hour, and Bear didn’t want to disappoint his mother the only time she was sober.

Sober. That was a strange word, when Bear first heard his mother say it he didn’t know what it meant and when he asked her she called him stupid and useless. So Bear took the big, old, and dusty dictionary from its place on the shelf and looked up the word, sober, then using his pen as blue as midnight, he wrote it down in his old brown journal. He learned a lot of his words from that dictionary, and every word he learned went into the old brown journal. His mother used to send him to school but then she stopped, so Bear took matters into his own hands and started teaching himself big words he can use, like sober and sesquipedalian. Bear loves big words now, they make him happy, they make him feel smart and useful, just like how Lilly made Bear feel safe. Bear try’s to always speak to his mother using only big words, she loves him a tiny bit more every time he does, he can feel it, Bear knows she does even if she just throws another bottle at him and slings more curse words.

Bear had lots of scars on his body from when her bottles hit home, the faded white lines marked his skin, trails of white snakes dancing along his body. As well as the white scars there are the purple, yellow, and blue bruises. His skin was like a canvas. It told a story through all the colors dotting his flesh. Bear always looked at his body and the colorful marks; he then would look at the other children who gave him the marks, the clear creamy white skin or the rich caramels, small cuts and bruises being the only blemishes on their skin. Bear had looked at Lilly’s skin, it was also beautiful, the soft glow that seemed to shine from her.

Bear heard the door of his mother’s bedroom open, and before he had a chance to react another bottle was thrown at him and Bear being too caught up in his thoughts about Lilly, had the bottle smash right into his chest. The breath left him and Bear could feel the blossoming of a new bruise and the swelling of flesh. Bear looked down quickly to check and see if the bottle had shattered against his battle scarred flesh. He let out a sigh of relief when he heard the lone sound of a bottle falling to the stained carpet. He was lucky, most would shatter on impact. Bear heard the growl of his mother and he quickly looked down, looking up was dangerous. Bear had learned that his mother took that as a sign of defiance and looking down showed her that he was beneath her. She is like a wolf; eye contact is not permitted around his mother. Bear hated the feeling of submission he had to show for his mother to be pleased, no son should be scared of their mother. When he is older, Bear is going to stand up to his mother, but he’s smart enough to know that ten is not the age to do that at.

Bear’s mother wasn’t always like this, but after Bear’s father took off, she changed. In came the alcohol and the men. The alcohol twisted his mother’s head in a way that made her bring strangers home and hurt her own son. Bear remembers when she gave him the lovely blue fountain pen. He was so happy. Bear felt like a grown up. He now had his leather bound journal and his blue fountain pen. But everything changed and those items are all that’s left of his once pure life.

His mother was only a few steps away from him and the stench of alcohol that came off her in waves was enough to make Bear gag. She grabbed his chin, forcing Bear to look straight into her eyes. He felt her clammy skin against his and he shuddered. She smirked slightly before her hand came down harshly against the soft skin of Bear’s face; the crack filling the still night air.

Bear staggered back, shocked. The hit to his cheek was a painful reminder to the obvious. The woman who was once his mother is gone, in her place is the monster. He was far too old for his young mind, Bear knew that, and he wished it was different.

            Lilly skipped into her large home with her father on her heals. The only sound was Lilly’s pointless chatter and her father’s heaves as he tried to catch his breath.

            “Daddy, what do you think that boy is doing right now?” Lilly asked putting her chin on the edge of the counter top; she was just tall enough to do that. She held her purple pen tightly in her left hand, that’s the hand her mother handed it to her before she was wheeled into the room that she never came out of.

            “Hmm, well I’d imagine he is just sitting down for dinner with his family and they are having a nice talk about his day. Why do you ask?” Lilly’s father was genuinely curious about this, his daughter had met lots of children in the town square but she had never taken an interest in one like this.

            “I think that he has a mean mommy. Because the colors he had were not made by a mean daddy, daddies can’t be mean! Nope he has a mean mommy,” Lilly nodded her head once in confirmation then smiled brightly. She had just remembered the pretty blue flower she had seen, the flower that would look beautiful with Bear.

            “Well, let’s hope not. Anyway, what do you want for- Lilly come back!”

Lilly had taken off through the open door, rushing out into the night to find Bear. She had to find Bear, he had a mean mommy and she needed to save him!

“Don’t worry boy, I’m coming!” Lilly screamed into the night. Her purple pen clutched tightly in her left hand.

When she reached the dark town square, Lilly turned in a circle trying to remember which way Bear had gone. When she remembered, Lilly darted off into the night, the dark consuming her once more.

Lilly soon reached the end of the road she was going down and was about to turn back when she saw the house. The old, shabby, beaten down house, the house where Bear lived.

Lilly scrunched up her nose at the smell. She walked forward a few steps then stopped when she heard the crunching of glass under her feet. There were broken bottles everywhere. Lilly was glad she hadn’t taken off her shoes; if she had her feet would have been ripped to shreds.

Lilly walked slowly up to the house’s window and peeked inside. The sight she saw was horrifying; Bear was standing there sobbing while a pale, gross, greasy looking woman stood before him shouting. Bear was also holding his cheek. Lilly knew enough to know that was bad, that a color would soon where Bear’s hand is.

Lilly gasped when the woman looked up straight into her eyes. Those dark, lifeless eyes. Lilly was in trouble and she knew it. But first she had to help Bear. Bear needed her help and she would give it to him. Lilly realized she would do anything to help Bear, even if she had yet to figure out his name, rather than calling him boy. Lilly watched as Bear turned his head to look at Lilly. His eyes widened as he looked back into her soulful gaze. He quickly snapped out of the trance and started to motion her away. Lilly knew why he was doing this; she already knew she could get hurt. But Lilly didn’t understand why he wanted her to leave. Why wouldn’t he want her help? Lilly didn’t understand and she didn’t think she ever would.

Bear let out a quiet gasp as his mother ranted at him. It was all the same, she would yell, scream, shout, howl, wail, any word you want to use. She would yell horrendous things, she would scream profanities at Bear, she would howl about how useless he was, she would wail about his stupidity. Bear hated it; hate wasn’t even strong enough to represent what he felt when she would explode. But Bear would try; he would try so hard to just brush off those insults. And he managed that pretty well, but it still was never enough, some always seeped through the cracks in his barrier, his wall surrounding him, the cage to protect his mind. Each word was a hit to an already broken wall, a wall that can’t survive much longer.

Bear always did feel slightly impressed about his mother though. He was impressed that she was able to speak with only a slight slur of her words. And she only stumbled on the over the top insults. But it still hurt; it felt like flames, and knives, and bullets and everything that could possibly hurt you all directed at Bear. Bear always hurt, whether it was physically or mentally, he always hurt.

Bear tried to tune out his mother’s ranting and stop the tear and hiccups of sobs from coming out when she stopped. And she never just stopped. No she would keep going until she got bored of yelling at him, got thirsty for more of her nasty drink, or she passed out, so this must be bad. Oh and boy was it. Lilly was standing on her tip toes looking in the window. No! No! No! She had to leave, she had to go, she could get hurt! Bear didn’t want a hurt Lilly, oh no Lilly can’t get hurt, Lilly needs to stay safe. Bear tried to get Lilly to leave, shouting through the glass at her, “You need to leave! This isn’t safe! Please just leave girl! It’s dangerous!”

She didn’t listen. She did just the opposite in fact. Lilly walked up to the window and started banging on the glass, “Hey, you! Lady! Stop it right now! That’s not nice! Get away from him! I know you’re giving him those bad colors!”

Bear’s already pale face somehow managed to turn a shade whiter. His big green eyes widening further at the things the mysterious girl was yelling.

“Stop! Leave! You need to go!”

Bear was starting to get frantic; his mother had stumbled away from him and was now trying to walk towards the door. Bear watched in horror as she somehow managed to pry the door open and walk through the dead grass and towards Lilly. But when his mother stopped where she was and just stood there, Bear became confused once again, why did she stop? What’s wrong? Bear soon realized why his mother stopped. A man ran up, huffing and puffing towards Lilly and scooped her up. When he looked up to see Bear’s drunken mother standing there, a half empty bottle of liquor in one hand the other clutching the door frame, he stopped. He knew whose house this was, this was the little boy’s house, the little boy with colors lining up and down his arms. This was Bear’s house. Bear, the little boy who shouldn’t be living in this environment. This was the little boy who was too old to be this scared.

Lilly smiled slightly when she felt her father lift her into his arms, before her mind snapped back to the current situation.

“Daddy! That mean lady is giving the boy those colors. Make her stop!” Lilly cried, eyes glazing over with a veil of tears. Her bottom lip wobbled as she remembered the scene she had stumbled upon.

“Sh. Lilly we need to leave, I’ll call 911 and they can deal with this. This isn’t our business. It’s dangerous to stay here any longer.” Lilly’s father mumbled into his daughter’s ear. He kept a keen eye on the obviously drunk woman in front of him.  

“Ge’ off my property.” The drunken woman slurs. Her greasy dark brown hair is streaked with gray. The bloodshot eyes, unfocused and foggy, staring at the side of Lilly’s head. The Woman With The Greasy Hair. Lilly’s father had seen her before, he had seen her stumbling through the town drunk out of her mind and a man hanging off her shoulders.

Lilly starts to wiggle in her father’s hold, “I need to help the boy! The boy Daddy! I know he’s in there. I need to save him.”

Lilly stopped moving when she saw Bear open the door cautiously. His face painted with the red handprint his mother gave him.

He pushed through the door and stumbled out and in front of his mother. He had dried tear streaks running down his cheeks.

“Stop! Don’t hurt her! She didn’t do anything! Please, just go back insi-“

Another crack rang through the still air. Bear’s head was thrown back and his body followed. A satisfied growl clawed through the woman’s chest. Bear’s body limp at her feet.

Lilly didn’t remember much after that, just lots of yelling and crying and bright lights.

Lilly’s father called 911 and the police came and took away the Woman With The Greasy Hair. Bear was put in an ambulance and whisked away to the hospital.

When Lilly and her father arrived they were rushed into Bear’s room. The nurse mumbling something about Bear not calming down, a girl with golden hair, a blue fountain pen and a brown journal.

Lilly walked quietly over to the side of Bear’s bed, “Hey, my name’s Lilly.”

“Bear.”

“I like your hair Bear. I hope you get better soon so we can play.”

“I like your smile Lilly. I hope I get better soon so we can play.”

Bear never got better. He in fact got progressively worse. He was forgetful and didn’t remember anything from the age of seven to the age of ten, when he was saved from his mother’s rage. He was soon adopted by a sweet couple with the names of Sandy and Mike, soon to be known as Mom and Dad. His blue fountain pen and brown journal were all that he had left from his previous life.

Bear moved away shortly after getting out of the hospital. Bear left the old, dusty town filled with horrendous memories and scary dreams. He went to therapy every other day for three years before he finally stopped having night terrors. He slowly forgot about Lilly and that one fateful night. Bear found new friends who supported him and understood; play fighting is not acceptable around Bear.

When Bear turned nineteen he went off to college to become a therapist for those who are and have been in abusive relationships. Six years later he graduated and had been working for a high class agency for five months.

And that was when Bear met Lilly. Lilly had been in an abusive relationship for three months before she finally escaped, her friends had signed her up for therapy. They didn’t want her to be going through something as traumatic as this without help.

Lilly had beautiful golden hair, thin pink lips, and blue, blue eyes full of curiosity. Bear felt as if he had seen her before. Lilly knew she had seen Bear before. Lilly also knew she had seen the midnight blue fountain pen he was using.

Bear didn’t see Lilly for another year before she came back to see him. She brought pictures of them as kids in the hospital and her purple pen. Bear didn’t remember.

Lilly and Bear slowly got closer before Bear finally popped the question and asked if Lilly wanted to go on a date with him. One date turned into many and soon Lilly was waking up next to Bear every morning and going to bed next to him every night. Bear didn’t remember.

Bear popped the second question, Lilly said yes. Their wedding was simple and unique. It was so like Bear and Lilly. The flowers were lilies of course. But Bear still didn’t remember.

Lilly pulled out her old yellow blouse. Bear remembered. He remembered her dusty childish face and her small grubby hands holding the purple pen.

Lilly handed the purple pen to Bear and he turned it over in his hands. Tears filled their eyes and they hugged tightly. The circle was complete and the two who started this story will now end it.

Bear tapped his midnight blue pen lightly on the desk.

“I guess it’s out of ink.”

 “Mine ran out yesterday.”

“I love you.”

“I love you.”

This story started with two fountain pens held by children with very different minds and very different lives but ended with two people who have found each other again, and now their pens are out of ink.

A new story starts now.

 

 

           

           

 

 

State
MI
Zip Code
48176