Stub by Ian Critchley (Lucent Dreaming Issue 6)

He grips me so hard sometimes I swear he’ll snap me in two. And he pushes me down so forcefully onto his notebook that he’s always wearing me out. And then he thrusts me into that sharpener. And the pain of it – you’ve no idea.


My previous owner wrote beautiful sentences and made me glide over the paper with such ease it was pure pleasure. But this guy! The handwriting – good grief! I’m off at all angles, slanting forwards, then backwards, jagging this way and that. Sometimes, my descenders hardly descend at all and, other times, they’re halfway down the page. It feels like I’ve been on a rollercoaster. And then, just when I think he’s done, just when I think he’s going to pop me back in his breast pocket for a rest, there’s my torturer the sharpener, ready to shave off my dignity once more.


He likes to chew my other end, grinding me with his teeth, coating me with his saliva. Splinters of me end up in his mouth and he spits them out. And it’s not pleasant, I can tell you, to see bits of you spat out on the floor.


I’m not stupid. I know where this is going to end. I’ll finish up a stub, a shadow of my former fully-leaded self, discarded in a pot with all the others. That’s if I’m lucky, of course. I’ve heard the story – we’ve all heard the story – of the one who got so worn down he disappeared, literally vanished. I fear my fate will be similar and that the only thing left of me once he’s done will be the spat-out shards and my tortured shavings at the bottom of a bin. Nobody will know I ever created words, left marks in the world for others to read, will they?

I guess I wouldn’t mind so much if what he wrote made any kind of sense – I mean, I do have my pride. But it’s just notes, unconnected words, gibberish. I’ll give you an example. The other day he wrote, ‘milk, butter, dry cleaning, gym, gaffer tape (strong enough?), blindfold, gag.’ I ask you, what does that even mean?


He sharpens me again. He presses his finger against my tip and I can feel him wince. I’m sharper now than I’ve ever been. It feels good. Like I’m at the limits of my being. Like I’m ready for anything.

Browse issue 6 in full.
Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine publishing beautiful, imaginative and surreal short stories, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Our aim is to encourage creativity and to help writers reach publication! Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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