I wanted to write some thank-you notes, but I couldn't find my pen. My mother said, Judy, don't. Judy, Judy, Judy. Don't. Don't write thank-you notes. Leave it be. People don't do that. It isn't done.

But yes, they do, they do send notes, and I wanted to. I wanted my friends to know I was fine, getting on with it, not lying around the house all weepy and depressed, and okay, maybe they wouldn't really be thank-you notes, maybe you don't send Thank-You-For-The-Condolence-Card notes, because that could lead to things like sending thank-you notes for thank-you notes, and where would it end? So I just wanted to send a few words, what's wrong with that, to let my friends know I'm not wallowing in pity on the sofa under a pile of ice cream cartons and chip bags, empty chip bags, chip bags I'd torn apart and licked the crumbs out of, because even if I am wallowing, I'm entitled to create the impression, with some cheery stationery and my nice pen, that I am not.

But I can't find my pen, and I have looked. I looked under the sofa, I moved all the beer cans, I flipped through the book of Gaelic baby names, I pulled the cushions off the glider, I dug through the chip bags and the ice cream cartons. No pen. I have other pens, sure, and pencils and magic markers and even a woodburning kit, but that pen is my Parker pen, the nice one I've had since college, the one my boyfriend gave me for Christmas, not much of a boyfriend, we only went out for three months, but he gave me a Parker pen and pencil set, which was cute because his name was Parker. And the pen is a nice pen, and I replace the ink cartridge every couple of years and it still works, and it doesn't stick or glob up, so that's the one I wanted, because how would it look if my Thank-You-For-The-Condolence-Card notes are written with a fucking magic marker, or a crayon, or they're all gooped up with bad ink? Like I can't be trusted with sharp things, or the ink is runny with my pathetic tears, that's how it would look, so no thank you.

Yes, the name is part of it, I've always liked that name, Parker. It was on the short list, at the top of a very short list. If I ever have a son, you know, but where in the hell is that pen? It doesn't make sense, I had it, it was right here, and now it's gone, it's gone, it's just gone. I can't be trusted with anything these days. I lose everything. I'm going to tear this fucking house apart. I will find that pen. I want my Parker.

About the author:

Steven Gullion's other fiction has appeared in Night Train, The Adirondack Review, In Posse, Inkburns, Dead Mule, Surgery of Modern Warfare, Smokelong Quarterly and Pindeldyboz, among others, and is forthcoming in Opium Magazine. His story "Stray Dogs" won first place in the 2003 Sherwood Anderson Short Story Contest.