“Hey Dad! I had this crazy day today,” Ethan said strolling in his house and throwing his book bag next to the couch. “There were these guest speakers that came in, but the principal had no idea who they were.“
Ethan pulled the refrigerator door opened and grabbed a soft drink.
The old wooden house that he and his father lived in had been painted light pastel colors. The windows often had rays of sun shine through the transparent panes, often reminding Ethan and his father a time when his mom was still alive.
“Hey Dad! Where are you?”
Ethan peered into the study and down the basement and didn’t hear a pin drop. He turned to the backyard and could see his father’s sitting at the edge of the brick edges of their garden. His father had unmistakable broad shoulders. When he wore his denim backyard shirt, it looked like a quilt. His father sat facing the shed, and as Ethan approached the open space it became evident that his father was in fact, sitting in front of his shed. Whatever was left of it.
Ethan’s father perked up as if he had been woken from a dream. He didn’t say a word to him.
“Sit down,” he commanded without turning his head
“What happened to my shed,” Ethan asked. Ethan studied the debris and he couldn’t piece together the events that had demolished his father’s favorite space. It was a place where he would go to work, meditate or store his personal effects. Ethan always was curious by nature and wanted to see what his father kept in there, but his father never told him.
“Sit down,” his father repeated but louder and slower this time.
Ethan frowned as he grabbed a lawn chair and sat.
“Where’d you go today? Do not lie to me.“
His father looked exhausted. His eyes were red and he had a shovel next to his feet, which meant he was either digging or he was using it as an instrument to bash something on his property. Ethan scanned the backyard and couldn’t find one hole in the ground.
“Pay attention,” his father said, snapping his fingers. His father’s massive frame blocked the sun and brought Ethan back to reality. “Are you listening?”
“Yeah, I woke up and went to school.”
“Go on.” His father encouraged in an urgent, stern voice.
“That’s it. It was a boring day.”
Ethan paused. “Oh, well it was crazy.”
“How crazy,” Ethan’s dad asked. His thick brown mustache wiggled underneath his nose. His beard was equally as thick.
“These guest speakers came in to speak today, but the principal had no idea who they were.”
“Speakers from where?”
“The FBI,” Ethan said cautiously.
Ethan’s father tilted his head.
Ethan’s eyes widened in agreement. “I know that sounds weird, but that’s who they said they were.”
“And what did they speak about, Ethan?”
“Apprehending bad guys, how to become an agent…”
“Ethan, these guys sound like college comedians playing a practical joke.”
“They showed us a real badge,” Ethan exclaimed. “Even Mrs. Harris was confused. And then they gave all of us nerf guns.”
Ethan’s father’s shoulders dropped at the statement.
“Honest! I have it in my book bag!”
Ethan’s father sat down again at the brick edge and sighed deeply. Ethan’s attention returned to the broken shed. There appeared large purple and yellow colored marshmallows, sandwiched between the splinters of what was left of the shed.
“Are those peeps?”
“Is that all that happened today Ethan? Nothing else exciting or extravagant happened on the way to or from school?”
Ethan shook his head. He looked in the center of it was an ornate rock; its color was grayish and had three tiny purple gemstones on the surface. It looked similar to what his mother gave him when he was a toddler, but this looked like a meteor that crashed on earth from space. On the edges of the shed, he saw yellow, rubber duckies. He bit his lip, stifling laughter. He felt awful about his father’s shed, but that couldn’t be what he had inside.
“This is funny to you,” his father asked with a warm smile that caught Ethan off guard.
“No,” Ethan replied, trying with all the might he could muster to not laugh in his father’s face.
“Come on,” his father continued. “It’s a little funny. Right?”
Ethan nodded in pain, holding back his laughter. His father was by definition the mascot for really tough paper towels. Ethan’s friends laughed whenever he wore his red and black plaid shirt. He was strong and outdoorsy. The idea that he would store marshmallows and rubber duckies in his shed was pure comedy.
“It is funny, Ethan’s dad said. “It’s just as funny as this journal I found lying around in your room.”
Ethan’s smile melted away to horror as he saw his father holding his journal. Ethan lunged forward in rage, clawing at the air, trying to grab his book from his towering father, but he lacked the reach and strength to do so.
“That’s not funny,” Ethan yelled. “That’s mine!
“Settle down,” his father said, using his hands to silence him.
“That’s not fair! This stupid thing happened to you and to get back at me, you steal my journal?”
“Get back at you,” he echoed with intrigue. “What on earth did you do to me?”
“I laughed at your stupid shed.”
“No. This isn’t to get back at you. I just…” His father’s words hovered in the air, “couldn’t help myself.” His father opened to the last written page.
“Give me back my journal!” Ethan struggled to prevent his father to read any words.
“Dear Diary,” he started simply enough. Ethan forced out a quick breath to calm himself as he continued reading. “Day 562 of what’s actually in that shed. I swear, one of these days I will see what is in that shed. I know I’ve tried everything, from blowtorches, picking the lock, acid and honestly too many to count, but if my dad can get in there, so can I. Maybe one day a rock will fall from the heavens and break just the shed. We don’t need a catastrophe here. Just enough force to break the roof apart. I wondered what my dad actually keeps in there. Maybe it’s giant marshmallows shaped like baby chicks. I love marshmallows! My dad would get brownie points if the shed was filled with that. And maybe rubber duckies. That would just crack me up if I saw that. My dad would seem so much cooler with that.
“You were cool, until you took my journal.”
Ethan’s father closed the diary in one hand and then he crossed his arms, waiting for a response.
“You think this is my fault? I did not do that! I wrote that yesterday! I went right to sleep after I wrote that. MY computer has a time restriction so I couldn’t even order that when I wrote it. Then this morning, I woke up and went straight to school. No time to plan this.
“Well then, I guess that settles it. You couldn’t possibly have done it. You were sleeping, right? I guess this is yours.”
Ethan’s dad extended his hand to give him back his private journal. Ethan waited to see if it was a joke and stewed after he grabbed and inspected thoroughly to see if there any markings or changes made to his book while he wasn’t away.
“I just have one more question,” Ethan’s father said. “Why were you in my office?”
Ethan paused under pressure. How did his father know? “I wasn’t in your office,” he lied.
“Really now,” his father said. “Well let me be more specific, Ethan. Where is my fountain pen?”
Ethan’s eyes grew even wider.
“I said don’t lie to me!”
Ethan bowed his head and shoved his hand in his pocket and pulled out an elegant white fountain pen.
Ethan, his father said with nearly tears in his eyes. He dropped to his knees and opened his palms to receive it. He had never seen his father like this before. Ethan, confused, placed the pen in his giant palms and he held it tight to his chest. “You took it to school with you?”
“Yeah, I thought it was cool. It writes really well.“
“You used it at school?”
“No, I didn’t have a chance too. Those FBI agents took up most of the time. “
“Ethan, do you have any idea what this is? This is The Pen of Existence. With this pen, you can craft whatever reality you want. The power is in the pen and the writer!“
Ethan dropped his book to the ground.
“Pick it up,” his father said.
“I didn’t know!” Sean said.
“I said under no circumstances to enter my office when I am there or not there.”
“You say the same thing about the shed!”
“This isn’t good!
The Pen is paired to only be written on the empty pages of one book. My empty notepad. It has infinite pages. No pages can take ink from another pen and this pen can never write on another piece of paper. But somehow you were able to write down in your journal.”
“Dad, I ‘ve been writing in this for a long time.”
“How many blank pages, do you have left?”
“27 days left. What happens after 27 days when we run out of empty pages? Can’t we just make reality work where the notepad works with it again?”
“I don’t know and no.”