I lost my pen on a plane. It was clipped to the hard front cover of Emila Zola’s Nana. It dropped to the floor when I pulled her from my rucksack for a pre-flight foray into the life of a Parisian courtesan. I heard it fall and searched for it thoroughly, to be sure. I even asked the young GI in front of me to check beneath his feet for a stainless steel Zebra F-301. He screwed up his face before turning back around.
In the days leading up to this loss I switched from the F-301 to the F-402. The latter is a bit heavier in hand, and longer in stroke, and thereby better suited to my writing style; the former was too light which made it difficult to control legibility. Before the one decided to make its escape from Shawshank, I still had two trusty F-301’s, full of ink and up to the task of underlining words in books and writing their definitions into the margins, words like “wont”, “pestiferous” and “lassitude” (I already know what “plump” and “trollop” mean thanks to Zola). It’s the important task to which all of my secondary writing implements are relegated–they are always given a proper retirement. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s an honorable demotion.
Unless one of them runs away.
I wonder where it is now? I scoured that airplane’s floor, a Boeing 757 en route from Denver to San Diego, frantically running my hands over its dirty wool carpeting. I stuck my head between my knees and looked under my seat. I stuck my head down and looked under the seat in front of me. A stainless steel pen with the power of camouflage. Imagine that.
Now it has wings.
That little such-and-such had some kind of wits about it to secure its freedom on a domestic commercial aircraft. It’s probably up somewhere, thousands of feet up, traveling to another U.S. or Canadian city. Mexico, maybe. Imagine all of the traveling it can do if no one finds it, claims it for their own.
If someone were to claim it, a pilot or stewardess would be ideal, for they would tuck the pen into their front pocket, or into their travel bag, and it could continue flying.
Better still would be the pilot or stewardess who, after all these years, still harbors the dream of being a writer. Then the pen’s merits would be put to excellent use, not only because it’s full of good black ink, but also because any writer who stumbled on a Zebra F-301 would immediately recognize its superior design and be inspired to put it to immediate use.
How the tables have turned!
I’m stuck here using words to describe my outermost mental peregrinations, my visions of eternal backpacking tours and countryside busrides, while one of the very implements that I employ in my craft is being handed off, traveler to traveler, slipshod, as if it were the baton in a relay race with a subjective finish line and no rules on how to get there.
I still have the others though, those three hyphenated f-bombs full of the stuff with which I translate my thoughts. There is certainly no shortage of those.
I just hope the same is true for whoever is holding my pen now, wherever they are.