by Katherine Flower

Oh, the stories I have told in my lifetime. At first when I was new, I kept them all bottled up inside. It took the love of one much older man to draw me out. I still recall the day as if it were only moments ago. He was nearly 80 years old and his name was Joe. The skin on his hands though weathered, was soft. Joe was always gentle when he touched me. He brought out the best in me, and I did the same for him. We were partners. He had the brilliant ideas and romantic thoughts, and I was his instrument. He was the dreamer and I was his voice. We were together only a short time, four months to be exact.

Some may say that wasn't long enough. But we both knew it wouldn't last forever, and made the most of every single minute. Joe's inspiration poured through me; his thoughts became my flow. I could ramble on for hours at a time, and then he would take a break and pour himself a glass of lemonade. It didn't bother me the amount of work he had me do, it is what I was made for. If it brought Joe pleasure, then it made me happy too. I didn't like to be set aside, I loved being in his grasp, caressed by his fingers. With his left hand he would adjust his glasses onto the tip of his nose. Then Joe would pull me close to his lips, deep in thought, pondering his next verse.

There were words for everyone that ever meant anything to Joe. His best buddy Martin, whom he had lost to shrapnel in 1943. Joe described in pained detail how warm the heavy body felt as he held him in his lap waiting for assistance. The blood soaked uniform, the hand he placed on his friends gut to hold the pieces together. The final words of his comrade as he looked into Joe's eyes that were aged just eighteen winters, "I think I'm a goner Pecky". And then the surreal silence that followed as tears warmed his cheeks.

His wife Margery who was the sweetest woman he had ever met or could ever hope to love. He described the rapture of being her best friend, her lover, her security blanket, and her rock. They were inseparable. That is until the cancer struck. Squamous cell carcinoma is what the doctors called it. Lung cancer, or wretched disease is what Joe referred to it as. It was due to more then 30 years of smoking, and though self inflicted, it didn't change the pain or the outcome. He did all that he could to comfort her. When she lay in her bed at night, coughing up a most disgusting combination of blood and bile, he would hold her hand and speak in a soothing voice. He was there when Margery exhaled for the final time; the warmth in her hand gave way to deaths chill. He described how beautiful she looked, even now, for she was about to light up heaven with her smile and grace. This thought gave Joe the peace he needed.

So now, sadly, my time was nearing the end too. I had given about all that I had to Joe. The fountain that once held a future of potential was nearly dried and completely gone. He could sense that the end was near, however, it did not daunt him. He held me firmly in his loving grasp; I could feel the fervor of his power as he begged for me to give him more. The words grew spotty, the gaps more frequent, I spit and sputtered.

Joe sighed a long deep heavy sigh, and looked at my lifeless carcass for one last time. He placed me in the bottom of the wastebasket, gently as ever, and then rummaged through his desk drawer searching for another pen.

Katherine Flower has an Associates degree in Architecture and has written several technical articles for a national trade magazine  in commercial doors and hardware. She has recently started writing fiction. She is an avid sports fan and has been a youth sports coach for 13 years. She lives in Vermont and is single. Contact Katie.