On a string

I’m old enough to remember the necessity of going inside a bank. Before drive up windows. Before ATMs. I remember walking into the bank lobby with my mother on Saturday mornings. I remember watching her sign deposit slips with a pen that was attached to the wide wooden counter by a silver metal chain. I remember the way the pen dangled if it fell off the counter. The way it swayed and remained.

Lately, I have been journaling a lot and writing short stories that feel like journal entries. Stories that belong to me but aren’t quite all mine. Attached to me but not me. Mine and someone else’s too. Fictionalized truths.

People steal things accidentally. Pens are easy to take. It must belong to you, right? You were just holding it, using it. The metal chain helps you remember that the pen is not yours to take but it’s free for you to use while you are here, while you have a need.

There is vulnerability in recognizing the origin of the words that come out of the pen, in knowing that those words are attached to some feeling inside of you. You have a need and that alone makes you vulnerable. You are now exposed because it’s you that you are writing, not about you but you. You are writing yourself. Mouth. Heart. Pen. It’s all self, free and unencumbered.

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