I stare. The pen is on the table. I haven’t seen it for so many years. It glints as the sun dances through the window.

    My eyes are transfixed. Uncle’s gold pen. A blackbird sings, and I jolt myself back.

    I click on my wheelchair and go closer. I dart my hand forward and the sun hits my skin. Sparks waltz around the pen, but I can’t make myself touch it yet.

    Uncle wasn’t a real uncle. He was Mum’s man friend. He visited when dad left, as he often did. Dad yelled hate:

that we dragged him down, that I was the spaz kid he should have got the bitch to abort.

    We enjoyed the quite life when he was gone. My books came out from hiding, the books he threatened to burn.

    Uncle Ray was a quite man with dark hair and olive skin. Auntie said he was a foreigner. I didn’t care. He spoke nicely, bought Mum flowers, which made her smile.

    Shame Mum always forgave Dad when he reappeared, and the nightmare spun on.

   I remember the last time I saw Uncle Ray. He’d got wind of Dad coming back and was retreating. I was impossibly sad. But he presented me with a pen.

    It was fat and gold and marvellous.

    A wand of magic in my unsteady hand. The words flew, sparks of fire. I wrote a poem, a story.

    Every day there were more, until, one day, a book, on a shelf, in a shop. The first of many. The pen went into a dusty drawer, along with memories of that gentle man.


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