The first theme from my 100 Theme Challenge is ‘Beginnings.’ I’m not entirely sure where this came from or who this character is, but I had some fun inventing. This has only had one proof, so I apologize for any errors that might still reside therein. Please, feel free to comment below with whatever inquiry, critique, or thoughts you might have on the following prose.
Where to begin…
That question is more difficult than most listeners give it credit for. After all, some beginnings happen at the end of something. A birth occurs at the end of a pregnancy, a new year lands precisely the second following the end of the old year, and a day starts when the previous one ends. Beginnings, however, are not required to wait for an ending. They can happen in the middle of something, as well. Lovers could meet in the middle of their lives when nothing in particular is going on that might warn them. A new minute happens every sixty seconds at the beginning and the middle and the end of every single day. A new story may begin wherever it likes, and whenever fate slips something interesting between the pages of a life.
The thing about beginnings is that they happen to everyone and everything many times during an existence. From the conception of that first breath, life happens. From the very moment of creation, events have a habit of starting – even with the most unassuming of objects.
Take, for example, Clara’s pen. Before she purchased the simple, grey writing tool, it might have waited any number of days or weeks or even months until someone lifted it from its shelf. It might have had a quiet existence. The office worker might have used it for scribbling meeting notes or writing sticky reminders, and left it in the black wire mesh pen holder that matched every other pen holder on every other desk on every other floor of the entire office building. It might have had a misplaced existence. A mother of two children with a third on the way could have bought it for grocery lists or telephone messages or calendar events, and one of her children would have taken it to put it in their mouths or to draw with before setting it down somewhere never to be seen again. It could have led a neglected existence. An elderly man could have bought it to set on his desk in the off chance that he might need it to write something down, but mostly to complete his office, which needed a handful of pens to look complete.
Instead, Clara purchased the pen. She saw it hanging on a hook near the register while she waited for her turn to buy the things she had gathered from within the office supply store. The pen’s outsides were a simple grey, concealing within them black ink. Clara had a new notebook full of blank paper under one arm and a pack of one hundred note cards in her free hand, both of which were blank and white and in desperate need of ink with which to cover their bare surfaces. Of course, she already had pens, but none that were specifically for this notebook. She lifted it off of its hook and looked it over just as the register in front of her became available. She still had it in her hand when the man behind the counter asked her if she had found everything okay with that in which rhetorical tone they ask everyone.
A non-committal ‘uh huh’ precedes a pause, which precedes a decisive ‘this, too,’ as she sets the pen on the counter. It is slid across the scanner with the beep that ensures she will be charged far more than the pen is actually worth, but Clara doesn’t argue. She pulls out her debit card, slides it through the card slot, and punches in her pin number, zero-five-nine-one; her birthday. After a moment of electronic consideration, the notebook, the pack of one hundred note cards, and the pen – oh, yes, the pen – are all hers.
There was no clear and foreshadowed path to this new existence, for Clara chose the pen near the end of her shopping journey on impulse. The prerequisite ending began with the purchase born of a hand, a thought, a notebook, and a split-decision. An end to the life on a shelf, brought about by the procurement of a new writing utensil, and in the middle of a shopping trip for other supplies would lead to a spectacular beginning for this young author’s new pen.
Where would its life of productivity and usefulness as a tool in the creation of new stories end? Perhaps that is the better question: not where to begin, but where will it end? The journey might not begin – or end – where you thought it did.
Thank you for reading, and have a lovely day!