Friday 10 January 2020

Bent Pencil

by Matthew Roy Davey


The pencil was yellow with a rubber on the end, but it wasn’t a normal pencil.  It was made of wood and lead but somehow this one had been made in the curling shape of a pig’s tail.  I’d got it in my stocking.  It was one of my favourite presents.  I carried it with me everywhere.
One day in the playground I took it out of the pocket of my parka to show Mrs Emmet, the nice dinner lady.
“Look at my pencil!”
“Oh!”  She took it and turned it in her hands.  “I’ve never seen one like this before.”
Mrs Reid, the other dinner lady, began ambling over, her eyes like a seagull’s, her hands stuffed in the pocket of her smock.
“How did you get it like that?” asked Mrs Emmett.  She grasped each end of the pencil.
“It’s not rubber,” I said, seeing what she was about to do.  “You can’t…”
It was too late.  The pencil snapped with the sound of a bone breaking.
“Oh!” said Mrs Emmett, her hand flying to her mouth.
“Oh!” laughed Mrs Reid.
“I’m so sorry,” said Mrs Emmett, flushing red.  “I’ll get you a new one.”
“It’s ok,” I said, trying to swallow the sick feeling.  I took the pieces from her, wondering if perhaps my dad might be able to fix it, knowing it was beyond help.  I could feel my face burning and had to blink the tears away before they came.  I smiled at Mrs Emmett who looked ready to cry herself.  My friend Elliott appeared at my side.
“What happened?”
I showed him my pencil.
Mrs Reid strolled away, smiling.
“I’ll get you a new one,” repeated Mrs Emmett.  “Where did you get it?”
“Father Christmas.”
“Ha!” laughed Elliott.  “You don’t believe in him do you?  It’s your mum and dad!”
Something seemed to go into free-fall.  I felt so stupid.  I didn’t move in case I gave something away.  It was so obvious.  I felt a sudden anger at my parents for lying.  I knew Elliot would tell my other friends, even those who still believed.  He was like that.  He’d enjoy telling them.

About the author

I was winner of The Observer short story competition 2003 and winner of the Dark Tales competition (August 2013) and have been long-listed for the Bath Flash Fiction award (Spring and Autumn 2017), Reflex Flash Fiction competition (Spring 2017) and Retreat West Quarterly Competition (Summer 2018).  My story ‘Waving at Trains’ has been translated into Mandarin and Slovenian and been published in anthologies by Vintage and Cambridge University Press.  Recently I have been published by Everyday Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Odd Magazine and Flash: The International Short-Story Magazine.  I have recently been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.


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