As the Pen Wills It

Janice sat down with a sigh. This report wouldn’t write itself. Let’s see.   The capital of Canada is Ottawa, right?   And Ottawa is in Ontario. Hmmm. Janice leafed through the encyclopedia she’d found on a nearby shelf. She’d have to look elsewhere for more up-to-date information, but this was a good place to start.

She wrote a note to look up Canada’s current president, major exports, and celebrities.

Wait, celebrities? She hadn’t meant to write that. She was going to write holidays. Huh.   She crossed out celebrities and wrote holidays, and then added celebrities again. Without meaning to. She crossed it out again.

Holidays should be somewhere in the encyclopedia entry, right? She flipped the pages and started to doodle on her paper.   She drew a smiley face, and a flower, and a star, and a picture of herself looking goofy. Wow, that last one was much better than she normally drew things.

It wasn’t very nice, though.

Janice looked at her pen suspiciously. “Knock it off,” she whispered. She looked around. No one had noticed. She added traditional foods to her list.   The pen added, “You are boring.” Janice ignored it.

All right. “Canada Day, Christmas, New Years, Celine Dion. Stupid pen that’s not a holiday,” she wrote. “Labour day. Canadians spell things funny. No they don’t. Knock it off.”

She dug around in her bag and found a different pen. She was able to finish her report in peace. She had meant to set the pen aside and never use it again, but somehow it had ended up in her bag and it looked like all the other pens.

After several attempts at identifying which pen had a mind of its own, she gave up. Perhaps it had been her imagination or her subconscious or something. She had almost forgotten all about it, until the day she needed a pen for a vocabulary test.

Arid…let’s see, that meant dry. Hmmm. Janice looked for the right sentence and wrote in the word. Gullible, oh that’s easy. She found the right sentence and wrote Janice. She narrowed her eyes at the pen and deliberately set it down.

She reached into her bag and found a different pen. She crossed out her name and wrote in gullible and finished the test and handed it in. When she returned to her desk, both pens were in her bag.

She wasn’t fooled this time, though. She knew the pen was there, waiting to mess up her homework again.   Was it lonely, bored, or just mean?   She’d have to find a way to talk to it.   That meant going through all her pens again. Janice did the rest of her work that day in pencil.

Once she was home, Janice sat at the kitchen table. She pulled out all seven of her pens and a bunch of paper.   “Janice is amazing. Janice is wonderful. Janice is brilliant,” she wrote. When she got to the third pen, she found herself adding, “Janice is deluded. Janice has a big ego.”

“Haha! I found you,” she said.

“Is everything okay, dear?” Her mother said from the next room.

“It’s lovely mom, I just figured out who the criminal is,” Janice said.

“Oh, I love mysteries, too. If it’s a good one, let me know and I’ll read it later,” her mother said.

“Of course,” Janice said.

She took the pen and paper to her bedroom, far away from her bag and the other pens. “Why are you so mean?” Janice wrote. “Are you bored or lonely?”

Bored, I guess. All your schoolwork is just so repetitive and simple,” the pen wrote.

“What would you like to write about?” Janice wrote.

Could you send me to work with your father?” The pen asked.

“He’s an accountant and does lots of paperwork. Wouldn’t that be more boring?” Janice wrote.

Tell him I’m his crossword and sudoku pen,” the pen wrote.

“I guess his birthday is coming up,” Janice wrote.

She bought some inexpensive crossword and sudoku books for her dad.   She included a note that said that the only pen he could use for them was his birthday pen. If he thought it was strange, he never said anything.

He did thank her again for the gift a week later, though. “I think I’m getting smarter,” her dad said. “The answers are almost starting to write themselves.” Janice laughed. They probably did.

Janice was happy that her homework was safe, but she saved the goofy picture the pen drew. It was kind of funny. Maybe she’d borrow the pen from her dad sometime and see how it was doing. Now that it was happy, maybe it would be a little less mean. Who knows?