Shadow Pen

Shadow Pen

A Story by Lady Sothis
"

Everything is predestined, my dear.

"

 

It was beautiful, with crisp, white, printing paper and fresh, deep black ink on it. Yes indeed, this was something to be proud of! At least I thought so. Granted, I’d missed the occasional comma, and perhaps I had repeated a few words more than once in a sentence, but it was still the very first story I had ever written in complete entirety. Goodness was I ever proud of it!

Of course, ten years later, I’d completely forgotten about it. If asked what I had accomplished ten years ago, I would have turned a slightly blank face. Anyway, why should I remember? I was busy mourning my “little boy,” forlornly walking around the tiny cottage I rented with my sister and missing him. I’d look at the little stain on the carpet, then at the brown bed with paw prints on it, and finally my eye would settle on his favorite couch, practically coated in white and black kitty fur. How had it happened? And to my Einstein, ever alert, ever watchful, ever careful when crossing roads? But the worst had happened when a Maroon Chevy had come by and torn my best friend away from me in the blink of an eye.

Across the hall, I heard the front door click shut; Marta was home.


”How was school?” I asked.

 

“It went well! We took the end-of-the-quarter exam, and I’m going to grade them tonight. Oh, I almost forgot, Sally sent her condolences and better than that, chocolate walnut cookies. However, she said you weren’t allowed to touch them until you have finally gotten some sleep,” Marta said merrily, with a slightly brusque tone to her voice.


”She did not,” I replied rather forlornly.

 

“Alright, maybe I did add that last part. But you need it and I do know that you stayed up last night reading. So, I’ll make dinner, we’ll eat, and to bed with you.”  Even if she was only four hours my elder my sister tended to act as if that were four years. Ah well, she had a point, and arguing with Marta was never a good idea.


So, I spent the next day working at the office, moping, and munching chocolate-walnut cookies. When I got home that night, I started dinner for Marta and I, then went up to my attic-bedroom. Having retrieved my newest favorite book, I began down the stairs again when I tripped. Attempting to stop myself from falling, I put out my hand and hitting the bottom, immediately felt shooting pain through my wrist. With the aid of my other hand I managed to get up and hobble over to the couch. Just as I was about to reach for the phone, I remembered that it was five, and Marta would have already started for home, in which case she was out of range. Perhaps I could drive to the hospital . . . ?  I instantly rejected the idea at the reality of attempting to drive stick shift without my right hand; I was forced to stay home and wait.  Squeamishly, I felt my wrist slightly before giving a large wince and leaving it alone.  It was hurt pretty badly, that’s all I wanted to know . . .


Ten minutes later, the familiar click sounded.

 

“Marta, come quickly! I think I broke my wrist!”  With a flurry, she came rushing into the room.

 

“How?!” She asked.

 

“I tripped on something and fell down the stairs.” She lifted my right hand up gently.  “Yes, that would be the broken one!” I snapped at her, giving a slight jerk of pain.


“Okay, okay. Try to hold your hand still and we’ll go to the hospital.”


“The beans are still in the oven, they’ll burn,” I responded hurriedly as I tried to get up.


“I’ll get you in the car first,” Marta replied, her normally calm voice slightly strained.


With me in the car and the beans out of the oven, we rushed to the hospital. My original diagnosis of a broken wrist turned out to be quite true so in several hours I returned home with a new cast. Before the two of us went to bed, Marta went over to the stairs to see what had caused me to fall.


“Here it is!” She soon called.


“What?” I asked.


She brought it over to me. It was a toy Marta had given Einstein; a maroon Chevy boxcar.

I stared at it for the longest time.


“What’s wrong?” Marta asked.


“A maroon Chevy, just like this one that killed Einstein.” As I spoke my eyes already started to fill up with tears again.


“It . . . it’s a coincidence, Ana. You shouldn’t take it that seriously. Come on, go to bed,” she said gently.


“No, wait!” I replied.  “Remember when I was twelve, and I finished that story of mine? The one I was so proud of?” I asked, feeling a tone of desperation entering my voice.


“Sort of, why?”


“Because everything that’s happened to me within the past three days I wrote about in that story! Einstein’s dying, how he died, my falling down the stairs by tripping over that little car, breaking my wrist, everything.”


“Come on, how could you possibly remember what you wrote in a story ten years ago?” She said a little incredulously.


“It was the only story I ever actually managed to finish and I just remembered it when I saw Einstein’s toy. If you want proof then go upstairs and look on my bookshelf for my scrapbook, it should be near the beginning,” I protested wildly. Grumbling only slightly, she went upstairs and looked through my bookcase.

“What would possible make you keep a story like that around? It probably didn’t even have its commas straight!” She said, still looking. “I don't even see it here . . .  Come on; you can’t be such a packrat as to keep that for ten years! . . . . Ah. Wait, here’s your scrapbook. Let’s see . . . wow! You did keep a lot, didn’t you? Oh, I think this is it. Was it called ‘Jinxed’?” she light-heartedly asked.


“I don’t remember, maybe. Bring it down and we’ll see. And I’m not a packrat! I’m sentimental.”


”Likely story,” she replied, skipping down stairs. As she sat beside me, I could hear her mumbling to herself while she was reading the story.


“So?” I asked after a little bit,


“What, besides that I was right about your punctuation? Come on, my students can do better than this! Anyway, just wait a bit.”  She flipped another page as I waited anxiously. “Oh my goodness,” she said after a moment, “You couldn’t be right!”

After a little bit more, she closed the scrap book.


“Did you finish?” I asked.


“No, I just looked at the page total. Fifteen pages? I have papers to get ready for tomorrow. However, this might present a sort of opportunity. If (and I stress ‘if’ since this could still be a coincidence) you’re right and everything that you wrote in your story comes true, then you know the future.” She finished with a satisfied little smile on her face. I turned deathly pale and looked at her.
“What?” She asked curiously.
“In the end of the story . . .  I die.”  Marta dropped the scrapbook as if it were a hot stone.

“What happened?’ She asked, her voice cracking.


“I was driving home from an interview, when a maroon Chevy came barreling toward me. I tried to swerve, but my steering wheel locked and I crashed into it.”


“What is it with you and maroon Chevy’s? Everything bad that happens to you in that story deals with a maroon Chevy!”


“When I was twelve, I hated the color maroon, and I despised Chevy’s. There you go, so now I’m going to die because I’m crashing into one!” I said a little frantically.


“You’re not going to die! This whole thing is a coincidence, and not only that, it’s superstitious.”


“And what if it isn’t? Look on the second page, it describes Einstein’s death. Did it describe the surroundings?”  Marta picked up the scrapbook again, and quickly thumbed through it, glancing at the pages.


“Here we go. Einstein is walking across the road . . . the Chevy comes . . .”  She looked at me then continued reading in silence for a bit.  “It almost ran over a peony bush, and then disappeared behind a green, ranch-style house.”

“See? It’s all there, I watched it, and that’s not only exactly what happened, but the bush and house are right as well!” I stated half-triumphantly, half-despairingly.

 

“Alright then, what do you want to do, go time-travel back and tell yourself not to write it?” she asked rather irately.

“Seriously, Marta, both time travel and sarcasm are off our list of options.”

“What then?”

“We can . . .  rewrite it. Yes. We’ll re-write it. Starting right after I broke my wrist, umm . . . let’s see . . . .”

So thus we changed it. Instead of getting fired soon after my wrist was broken, I got a raise. Also, instead of crashing, I managed to escape unscathed. Originally, Marta wanted to completely take the Chevy out of the story, but I pointed out that I wouldn’t know if I had truly escaped, since I hadn’t been kind enough to provide myself with the date of my death.

So I waited, my wrist healed, I continued working, and everything was wonderful. Around a week after my wrist had fully healed, I even got my raise. Everything continued going well, that is, until my boss called me up, and my heart sank as I was notified that my job had become an unnecessary use of funds, and that I as well as ten other co-workers were being laid off in exactly thirty days. But what was even worse, was that as I stepped out of my work building that evening and looked at the road going by, I saw a maroon Chevy speed past.

Marta was just as worried at the news I delivered to her that night as I was.

“What now?” I asked.

“Look for a new job. You’re young, you’re skilled, and you have a whole month.”

 

“No, I meant about the story. Apparently, re-writing didn’t work as well as might be hoped.”

 

“It was a good idea though. We’ll come up with something, you shouldn’t worry so much. At the very least, the story said that you were driving when the car crashed, so, until we’re sure you’ll be safe, we can always make sure that either I or someone else is driving you.” At this, I looked at her and all I could do was sigh.

We finally decided that since rewriting the story partially didn’t work, perhaps completely rewriting it would. So that night, we lit a small fire in a pit and destroyed every remnant of that story. After we went home, the two of us spent a good few hours rewriting the whole thing, from Einstein to my raise, subsequent dismissal, and finally my narrow escape from the Chevy.

A month passed, and I still didn’t have a job. I did have a few interviews lined up though, so I asked Marta not to drive me since not only would it be a pain for her, but I was afraid that it would reflect badly upon myself. The first interview went well, from driving there to driving back. The second one went wonderfully as well. When I stepped out of the office where I was interviewed, there was a child quietly playing in the cubicle where his father worked. When I looked at what he was playing with though, it sent shivers down my spine; it was another maroon Chevy boxcar.

On the way home, I was especially alert and careful. All the sudden, I took a bend in the road, and the maroon car came rushing at me. I immediately tried to dodge it, and as I turned the steering wheel, I could feel that even my fingers were afraid it wouldn’t turn. It did though, and as a gas station was right to my left I pulled into it, barely missing the Chevy. I drove to a small parking lot there, turned off the car and just sat, my hands cold and my heart pounding. When I felt normal and at least somewhat calm again I bought gas and went back on the road.

“It worked then? In our version of the story there was a gas station right where you needed it that you were able to pull into, right?” Marta exclaimed the moment I finished telling her everything that had happened.

“Yes, it must have. Thank goodness, too, I was scared every moment, even when I wasn’t driving.”

 

“I’m glad, but it still could have been some fluke of a coincidence.” I looked at Marta and chuckled. That was my sister, ever the realist.

The third interview didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but I didn’t really mind. I was simply content that I didn’t have to worry about driving. While going home, I had my radio tuned to a Big Band channel, and I felt almost like I could have danced with Benny Goodman. But as I turned the bend where I had nearly crashed the day before, the smile drained from my face. Again, the maroon Chevy came rushing toward me. I tried to turn my steering wheel, but as I did so it locked; nothing would move it in either direction as the Chevy continued barreling toward me.

 

 Finale

 

© 2008 Lady Sothis


Author's Note

Lady Sothis
Once again, problem with punctuation. I tried to go through things with a fine toothed come but I am absolutely Positive I missed more than a few things. ^_^ I'd also appreciate critique on the story as a whole of course, and thanks so much for your help!

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Reviews

Oh wow...so the re-writing didn't work...that kinda sucks. But it was really well written. I loved how you wrote it. I can't wait to read your new stuff.

~Ashleigh

Posted 12 Years Ago


I absolutely love this. Your characterisation is so fantastic and enthralling it makes this a joy to read over and over. As JohnL said, the twist is quite fantastic as well. I love your style, its very unique and in both pieces you've posted so far as just.... so enchanting in a refreshing way.

Just the one thing I noticed which seemed odd...
When the two are first talking about the story (fifteen pages! and all...), You have brackets in your speech.
Its about half-way through.

Although, to be honest, Im not entirely sure what the correct punctuation would be.... but hey, mine sucks anyway and I over-use and seriously abuse commas and elipses.

Posted 12 Years Ago


There are two problems here: 1, as you say with punctuation which you can do something about and 2, there is coding breaking into the document, which I don't think is your fault.
I find the standard of grammar and punctuation so good on the whole that it will only be necessary to examine meticulously, sentence by sentence to put things right using your own know-how. There is a confusion between 'I' and 'me' in one spot; 'When I got home that night, I started dinner for Marta and I,' Your use of dialogue is extensive and well handled. Now for the story. What I like about this is the way you keep us guessing. It's a good tale, well told but the twist is not all in the tail. Your continual insertion of high risk maroon Chevvies, allied to problems or near problems leads the reader into the assumption that the end is obvious, but the alteration to the old book which seems to put things right, then doesn't culminating in a total rewrite then a dummy face off with a maroon Chevvy, subsequent escape then disaster at the second meeting really had us fooled - (so does the sentence I've used to describe it). This is a good story, well told and there is nothing that some pretty sharp editing, of which you are more than capable, won't put right. I find that if I edit a paragraph at a time as I go, then the editing is not such a chore and the attention (which needs to be very focused) doesn't wander.
Thank you for your review of my piece about Hermione.

Posted 12 Years Ago



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Added on June 5, 2008

Author

Lady Sothis
Lady Sothis

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About
I live in the middle of a forest, surrounded simply by a Bible, a dog, a piano, and a pen. Generally I specialize in short stories, although I've attempted a novel or two. more..

Writing