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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Ghost · #1916214
Katy has a case of writers block. A wooden pen brings her more then she expects...
The Wooden Pen
By DL Fertig
(Written 2013
Revision 5-18-24 to?)

Katy Merrick walked down the street, feeling dejected and confused. She tried to hold on to thoughts like “This too shall pass.” to hold on to It wasn't working as well as she would have liked.

Let's face it, with the year she'd had, it was a wonder Katy wasn't locked up in some loony bin somewhere! Finally, she had an agent and a nice fat advance on a book deal.

Things were going great then little by little, complications slammed through her door. The economy was falling apart; her 401K was shrinking by the day, and she was sick with everything from the flu to a sinus infection for almost 2 months. Now to top it off, a bad case of writer's block. It started 3 months ago, and Katy was desperate to finish the book.

Her phone rang, it was her sister Connie asking how life was going.

Katy moaned “It's not”.

“Still having a hard time with the writing?”

“Yeah—I'm about ready to quit. Maybe I can't do this, maybe I should just give up.”

“Hey! Come on Katy, don't give up. You worked so hard at this so far, keep at it.
I know it's been tough for you this year, and getting so sick too. You can't throw it away now, keep at it. I want to see that finished book, you CAN do it, sis! Think Steven King!”

“Thanks for believing in me Connie. You always know the right stuff to say. Somehow I'll figure this out. So enough about me. What's up with you? I miss you, sis."

They talked for a while about family matters and other things. After the call, she felt better but was still worried.

She had gone for a walk, hoping for some inspiration when she saw a Curio shop. Looking into the window amidst the tacky Halloween decorations, sitting on a strip of purple velvet was a strange-looking wooden pen. It seemed like a mystical thing with a black quill feather attached.

“Oh, I like that! crap-I can't afford it but it can't hurt to look!”

She saw her reflection in the glass and pushed her red messy hair further under her cap.
Once inside Mr. Tibbens was very inviting; he sort of reminded her of Tim Curry.
A tall muscular man with black and gray curly hair, He shook her hand.

“So what articles of delight are you interested in today?”

“Well um, that pen in the window. What's the story with it?”
He picked it up and handed it to her.

“Well, it has an interesting history, you see. The last owner was a writer, very successful I might add. Anyway, It's been in the same family for generations. It's also haunted, it seems it was made from wood from a ghost town, near here in California. Ludlow, I believe. It was once a booming place, a big gold mine and all that. The pen is to die for!

Katy smiled and let out a sigh.

“I'd love to have it, it's the first thing that has inspired me to write in a long time. Well besides my Sis, I have a book to finish that has been sitting for 3 months. Maybe I'm crazy, thinking this pen can help writer's block.”

“I'm sorry to hear about your distress, There's nothing crazy about it at all! If it will help you find your way. How much can you spend?”

“I have 20 bucks and a five-dollar winning scratch ticket!”

“Done and sold! Take it, give it a good home! I think it belongs with you.”

Katy was excited and when she got home, Mr Peabody her cat meows loudly as she opened the door.

“Hi, buddy! Yeah I know you're hungry, hang on.”“Katy plopped a can of Friskies chicken and fish dinner in his bowl. She grabbed a can of Coke, turned on the Moody Blues, and kissed her new pen.

“Tonight I WILL get this book done!”
She didn't notice the clock at all, as she worked away. Once the book was finished, Katy slipped into a deep sleep.

Katy didn't know if she was dreaming, but looking around the sun was setting, leaving an orange glow on the pine trees. She was sitting on the ground, her clothes wet from early dew.

“What the hell? Why am I outside and why can't I wake up?” She gasped” Oh my God—where are my clothes?”

Instead of the jeans and purple tee, she fell asleep in, now she wore a blue and gray muslin dress down to her ankles. Standing up she felt something on her head and pulled off a gray bonnet.

A figure in the shadows came close to her. It was Mr. Tibbens.

“Oh good, you're back, dear!”

“Back? What's going on Tibbens?
“I guess you're not quite back yet.”

She started to feel sick, as a group of people came closer. They were dressed like frontier women and cowboys.

“Go away! What do you want? Leave or I'll...”

A woman about fifty dressed in brown with a gray bun stood before her.

“You'll do what, Sally May?

Wake up better not sass me, darling.”

Katy looked right at Mr. Tibbens, as she shook with terror.

“Am I dead?”

“well—yes and no... he said slowly”

“Sally, don't you remember that every Hallows Eve since 1904, one of us gets to pick out the life of someone who died and live out their last day? The wooden pen was made from a piece of my coffin to bring you home.”

She looked at all the people and there was something familiar about them. The gray-haired woman was her Aunt Harriet, who raised her in the town of Ludlow. She also recalled that half the people had died of Smallpox—including her—in 1897.

Sally had always wanted to be an author and when it was her turn, she was pleased to find out-- about Katy Merrick the author, who had died in a plane crash—last year outside of Ludlow.

Sally had died in her 20th year before school ended in 1897 watching the crude wooden coffins of so many arrive at the small church at the end of town. Her younger brother and sister were the first ones to sicken and leave her life and family.

She remembered her last day at school and wrote the date for 10th of March 1897 on her chalkboard. Wondering if she'd be in school next year to teach her students.

A month later her Aunt Harriet stood crying into a handkerchief looking down mournfully at the newly dug grave and the wood casket holding her dear Niece Sally May being lowered into it.

Chapter 2
Mr. Tibbens

Mr. Tibbens looked at Sally thoughtfully as he sat down on a tree limb next to her.

Sally looked up at him and asked

“ Is this all we can expect from the afterlife Tibbens?”

Softly he spoke

“ Perhaps it is my dear! Would it be so terrible if it was?”

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