There was once a Parker Pen, who wrote a best seller. She was a celebrity and was often invited to literary clubs to talk about the book and about herself. These meetings were always a success and she was pleased that her book touched her readers’ hearts.
But one day, at one of the literary club meetings, a young beginner printer, from whom unsolicited pages sometimes popped out, asked her a totally tactless question. “Could you tell us how much ink is left in you, please?” The audience held its breath as one. The Pen was perplexed, and an authoritative typewriter volunteered to put this young man in his place: “I think it would be safer for everybody, young man, if your cartridge remained completely untouched.” This was a good answer and everybody laughed, but Pen decided to answer the question herself, and said truthfully to the Printer, “ Almost none.”
During the break in the proceedings a few admirers, who wanted to support Pen, approached her, but all she could hear in their voices was pity, so, unable to bear this any longer, she left the club early. She came out on to the street. It was a warm summer evening, with the smell of honeysuckle in the air. Pen decided not to take a taxi. She felt too sad to rush anywhere and so she walked home. After a few minutes, Drawing Pencil, a friend from her school days and her book illustrator, caught up with her.
“Parker, would you like to go to the cinema?” he asked her tenderly.
“Do you know what everybody was talking about at the meeting? That I ran out! That I didn’t last long. Perhaps it is difficult for you to understand this, because your graphite will be with you for as long as you live. And I am empty already! Do you understand? Empty!” Pen said, and tears, which she had held back until now, ran down along her shiny black surface.
“What are you talking about?” answered Pencil,” If you like, we can go and buy you a refill.”
“Certainly not! You know perfectly well that I’m categorically against all artificial insertions. We’ve discussed it hundreds of times. It wouldn’t be me, it would be somebody else, somebody with a totally different character, some silly young person… and anyway, this is nonsense.”
Pen shook her head despairingly.
“Would you prefer to go to an antique shop?” offered Drawing Pencil innocently.
Pen reacted to his suggestion angrily.
“What! How can you say such awful words in my presence!”
“What did I say? Antiq…”
“Stop it, stop it! I don’t want to hear this.”
Pen stopped at the edge of the bridge, and once she had calmed down, said:
“If you’d really like to help me, take me to the seaside. I’ve planned everything already. I knew that one day this was going to happen. There’s a little house on the coast, which I reserved last year when I was finishing my book. It stands on its own, far away from pity and silly questions. For this special occasion I’ve saved some ink, so that I could sign the rent form. Will you take me there? There’s a room for you as well. It’s light and has a nice view of the sea. You may like to take some paper with you for sketching. Haven’t you dreamt about a studio on the coast with seagulls?”
The Drawing Pencil was a proper friend and couldn’t refuse her wish. Next morning they loaded the old shabby pencil-box with a few necessities and departed in it for the seaside.
A mellow sun shone for them all the way. Twice they stopped for coffee at roadside pubs and towards evening they arrived at the little village on the Northumberland coast. The sun was already below the horizon, but the last few rays coloured parts of the sky in orange.
“What colours!” Said Pencil with admiration, “pity I am just a graphite pencil and can’t show all those colours in my pictures.”
“I wish I could describe it in a book,” added Pen sadly.
The bungalow, which Pen had rented, was right on the coast. In the front garden chrysanthemums and roses were in flower and an evening bird whistled from an apple tree. The Landlord showed them the property and asked for a signature on the rent form, but before Pen could do so, Pencil signed it for her.
Later that evening, while they were having dinner in the local restaurant that had a jazz quartet playing, Pen said:
“Thank you, Pencil, for not letting me sign the form. It’s so nice to sit here and feel a drop of ink in me.”
“You don’t have to worry about that any more, because I will always be next to you. You are my friend. You know what, let’s dilute your drop of ink with a glass of good French wine. That way you won’t be able to write at all.”
“Ok”, said Pen, and they burst into laughter.
Next morning Pencil awoke to find that Parker Pen was not in the house. He looked out of the window and saw that the sandy beach was covered with marks of some sort. Pencil took out his binoculars. This made it easy to see, especially as the bungalow was on a hill with a clear, open view of the beach, that there was a story written on the sand. It was the story of Pencil and his girlfriend, Parker Pen, a story of love and friendship and it was full of affectionate revelations, which he had never suspected. But suddenly Pencil noticed that the tide was coming in and that water would soon flood the beach. Pencil didn’t lose a minute and began quickly copying down all the text from the sand, using his sketch paper. He wrote and sharpened himself, wrote and sharpened, wrote and sharpened… until he had finished the entire story. He managed this just before the water had washed out all the words.
Parker Pen ran into the house and while still in the hall, shaking the sand from her body, began excitedly to share her joy with Pencil.
“Pencil, Pencil! Can you imagine I was writing! All night I had been writing on the sand! I didn’t need to use my ink!”
But there was no reply. Pen went into his bedroom and saw that the floor was covered in flakes from the pencil sharpener, but Pencil himself wasn’t there. The wind stirred the pile of paper on the window ledge and the first page with the beginning of her story fell to her feet. It was still without a title.
Pen read the story quietly, then started to write the title in capital letters, “Thank you, P…” Here her ink finished and the red wine poured over the page. Pen slowly closed her eyes…