The Voice Issue 32: October 2017 - Page 35


A conversation of sorts

On a table, facing a large window, two persons of differing character find themselves in the ridiculous circumstance of being together.

Said the pen to the pencil, “How well you collect dust with that frown of yours.”

“I’m tired.” The pencil rubbed its nose and coughed. “I’m sick.”

“Sickness because of exhaustion or exhaustion because of sickness?”

The pen placed a cold hand on wood. It had bright eyes and a voice of marble and quartz. It was the fountain pen of the philosopher with black whiskers. It knew quite a few things.

“When was the last time you contemplated your existence?”

A Ticonderoga No. 2 that had recently fallen out of the back pocket of a nervous boy who had been too busy re-checking the information on his SAT registration ticket, the pencil was not an intellectual. It didn’t quite know of the world outside of its plastic box and fellow wood splinters. Now, having been misplaced and abandoned, it looked awfully stubby and rather ill indeed.

“Well, I don’t know.” It coughed again.

“To know. To be. Is to know, to be? Or is to be, to know?” The eyes grew brighter still. “Does this mean that you are...not?”

The pencil shed a coat of dust. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Aha, thought the pen, one of the ignorant masses. The light of reason has not yet shined upon this one. Indeed, it has lacked the presence of distinguished company.

“Shall I enlighten you then?”


“Have you perhaps heard of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave?”

“The cave?” The pencil thought of the dark corner he had previously fallen into and broke

into yet another fit of incessant coughing. It had not thought much of that corner, but it remembered that the linoleum was cold and wet.

“Ah, as I thought. Surely it is your own fortune that you have chanced to meet me. My great-great-great-great-great grandfather was blessed by the fingers of the Greek himself and recounted the story throughout our family generations. It is an enduring heirloom of ours.”

Obviously this was a terrible lie, as the pen had been handmade and had never cast eyes on another of its kind. Still, the pen went on, flaunting a confident mien. “So many are the ignorant. And so few are those who reach the light of reason, only to be ignored by the masses. But are they truly wise? You say, they must?”

“I say…” The pencil was nodding. The pen took note of its opinion and continued on with fervor.

“They are wise! You see, if you dare deny it, you join the plight of the ignorant. For what more is there but reason, what more is there than existence if not reason? And light, what is light then?”

The pencil had nodded itself to sleep. At last, the air stilled from the terrible coughing. Yet the pen did not notice and continued on in a hardly restrained crescendo, shouting louder and louder to overpower its imaginary rivals. Suddenly, a gust blew out of the open window, and the pen and pencil tumbled onto the floor. It was quite wet. A pair of sliding glasses drew near the still bodies. Blue eyes and black whiskers blurred under glass. “Eh, and what is this?”

There was no answer, but a faint cough. After all, they were just a pen and a pencil.

- Fangsy, Amherst, MA

Kevin Huang, Burlington, VT