Only The Pencils Are Sharp - Magpie 18 - June 15, 2010
She was so exhausted, she could barely make it up the second flight of stairs. There had been
a second Code Blue on the evening shift and, while her patient had survived, it had been such an emotional evening, with at least fifteen family members in and out of his room all night. She shouldn't have worked overtime, especially since she had the 7AM morning shift but they really needed the money. Jeff still hadn't found any kind of work, nor had he completed a screen play or his novel. Three months ago, she had been supportive of his taking the time to finish his book while she did extra shifts to cover their living expenses. It seemed like he wasn't putting in any time on this lately, coming home instead long after she had gone to bed. He told her he was "networking" with other writers, getting leads on possible jobs and collaborating on a t.v. movie with two other men.
For his birthday, after he told her he hated using a computer for his first draft, she had given Jeff two boxes of number 2 pencils, an electric pencil sharpener, and a ream of lined paper. She'd never seen him use any of it. Before she left for work this morning, she'd had an angry confrontation with him about his idleness. He had stormed off in a rage.
The alarm went off at 5:30AM. She felt as though she hadn't slept at all as she stepped to the bathroom sink and splashed water on her face. Jeff was sleeping so soundly, he hadn't even budged. Quickly, she applied makeup and stepped into her scrubs. In the kitchen, she poured water into the coffee maker and poured herself a bowl of cereal. Glancing at her watch, she saw that she still had thirty minutes before she had to get morning report and the hospital was only a ten minute walk from their front door. She poured milk into her cereal and looked in the dish drain for her favorite coffee mug, one that had belonged to her great grandfather. He had gotten it when he attended the coronation of George VI of England. It had belonged to Elaine
since she was ten-years-old when her great grandfather had given it to her. She had admired the crown on it and he said, "Since you are my little princess, you should have it."
Perplexed, she looked everywhere but could not find it. Suddenly, her gaze fell on Jeff's desk in the living room. There, holding all the sharpened pencils, was Gramp's coffee mug, her special treasure from which she had been drinking hot chocolate, then coffee, every day for the last fifteen years. Without even thinking, she grabbed the colored pencils and threw them, screaming at the top of her lungs, all over the room. When Jeff ran into the room, she sat clutching the mug to her heart, crumpled in sobs.