Charlie’s Room: The Pencil

Charlie met Isaac at the door. “You’re finally home from work,” he said. “Do you have a pencil sharpener?”

Isaac gave him a hug. “It’s good to see you.”

Charlie scowled. “Dad.   You didn’t answer my question.

“I do have a pencil sharpener.” Isaac took off his coat and hung it in the closet.

“Where is it?”

“In my desk drawer, let’s go get it,” Isaac said.

Charlie raced ahead through the kitchen. Marianne was at the stove, stirring a pot of spaghetti sauce.   “Slow down,” she said as Charlie ran past.

When Isaac arrived at his desk, Charlie was already there, opening and shutting drawers. “Which one?” he asked. “You have too many drawers.”

“Why are you in such a hurry?” Isaac opened a drawer that Charlie had just closed. “It’s in this one.” He took the pencil sharpener from the back corner of the drawer and handed it to Charlie.

“Thanks,” Charlie said. “I got a pencil from the prize box at school, and I want to use it to do my homework.”

“Congratulations. I think that’s a great idea.” Isaac closed the drawer. “I’ll come in later to check your work and see the new pencil.”

Charlie hurried away. Marianne said she didn’t need any help with dinner, so Isaac decided to work on a crossword puzzle. The next one in the book was weather themed, and he was looking forward to solving it.

He was just counting out the letters in cumulonimbus, when Charlie flopped onto the couch beside him. “Dad, my pencil lead keeps breaking. My new pencil is terrible.”

“I’ll come and look at it,” Isaac said. He set his puzzle on the little table by the couch and followed Charlie to his room.

“Here it is.” Charlie handed him the pencil. He looked disappointed.

The pencil looked fine. It had no obvious cracks or bends. “I’ll check your work while you sharpen it,” Isaac said. He went over the math problems. “It’s all right so far.”

Charlie handed him the pencil. “You write the answer for the next one. You’ll see.”

“Tell me the answer, and I’ll write it,” Isaac said.

“40,” Charlie said confidently.

“Nope,” Isaac said.

“It’s not?” Charlie took the paper and looked at the problem again. He muttered to himself for a moment. “Oh. It’s 42.”

“That’s right,” Isaac said. He wrote 42 on the paper. “Looks like it’s fine now. Maybe the lead was damaged in just the one place.”

“Let me try.” Charlie took the pencil. He wrote 36 and 54. He wrote 48. He started to write something else and the pencil lead broke. He scowled and dropped the pencil on the desk. “See? It’s broken.”

Isaac sharpened the pencil. “What’s the answer to the next problem?”

“75, right?”

“Nope,” Isaac said.

Charlie muttered to himself for a minute as he counted with his fingers.   “72?”

“That’s correct,” Isaac said. “You write it this time.”

Charlie wrote 72. Then he wrote 66 and 12. “Do you think this pencil doesn’t like to write wrong answers?”

“Maybe. Do you want to try to write a wrong answer and see what happens?”

“Okay.” Charlie started to write.   The pencil lead broke. “It worked!” He sharpened the pencil and finished the homework page.

“What a smart pencil,” Isaac said. “Maybe you don’t need me to check your work any more.”

“Maybe you should still check it just in case,” Charlie said. “Do you think it knows history?”

“I know how you could find out,” Isaac said.

“By doing my history homework,” Charlie said. “This is going to be great!” He smiled as he took out his history book and started to read the chapter.

Isaac went back to his crossword puzzle. Cumulonimbus had too many letters. Maybe he could borrow Charlie’s pencil after he finished his homework.