SRU: A Higher Power -4- The Refill
Spells'R'Us: The wizard offers Simon a fresh start...
by Lainie Lee
I don't own the SRU Universe, Bill Hart does, I'm just borrowing it.
Copyright 2002 by Elaine Blankenship.
"Have you got a refill for this ink pen?"
"Just a minute, Simon." said the old man. "I'll be right there."
Simon stood at the counter a moment more then looked around at the odd little shop. The strange items on the tables seemed to want to speak to him of odd places and stranger origins. He shrugged, fantasy was not on the agenda today, he needed a refill for his pen so he could fill out employment applications.
Somewhere behind the back counter the old man who owned this little shop puttered with some task and wasted time, Simon's time. Simon suppressed his irritation, he didn't want a meaningless confrontation over the old man's inattention to business.
He tapped nervously on the counter top with the empty barrel of his eighty dollar Cross pen. Forcing himself to stop, he examined the pen to make sure he hadn't damaged it. It was the only pen he had and he needed it.
"I know I've got one somewhere," the old man called from the back part of the store.
"A refill?" asked Simon, surprised. He hadn't thought the fellow had heard his original request.
"Yes." The strangely dressed old man slapped the little package down on the counter. "Seventy-nine cents," he said. Then, after a moment, "Uh, what state is this?"
"State?" Simon stared at the package blankly, so little for a refill for the gold-barrel pen he had gotten for his thirteenth birthday almost fifteen years ago?
"Yes, state! Don't tell me I'm in Canada, damn it, I know I'm not because I had to pay five dollars for a Molson with lunch! Now, what state are we in?" The old man petulantly grabbed the pen refill back.
"Hey! I need that!" Simon looked up, startled and more than a little annoyed but frightened a bit by the old man's action.
"Then tell me what state we're in!"
"Uh, California." This guy was weird, and now Simon wondered just why he had chosen to come into a shop called Spells'R'Us looking for a refill for his pen anyway. It hadn't looked like a stationery shop from the outside, and looked even less so from the inside.
"It's not," said the strange old man. "California, huh? Damn, highway robbery, I call it. That's six cents tax, you owe me 85 cents." He handed the little blister pack with the ink refill in it back to Simon.
"Not...what?" Simon took out one of his last dollar bills and handed it over, his qualms about buying such a cheap refill for his expensive pen forgotten in his confusion. He couldn't really afford a more expensive refill anyway.
"Not a stationery store." The wrinkled lips creased in a grin, "Nor a stationary one for that matter, but we always have what our customers need. Have a nice life, Simon." He dropped the change into the younger man's hand.
Confused, Simon backed away with his purchase and stammered a good bye. "Uh, have a nice -- day?" the California-ism sounded even more inane after the old man's strangeness.
Simon fled, not quite running and definitely not looking back over his shoulder.
Down in the food court, a bit more calm now, Simon bought an Orange Julius and a Relish Dog and sat down to eat lunch before filling out the applications he had collected during the morning. The dog and drink took the last of the cash in his wallet and even the fifteen cents change he had gotten from the strange shop, but it was comfort food and he didn't feel bad about spending it. He ate slowly, enjoying the tastes and dreading the work and embarrassment of filling out the applications.
Finished, he bussed his table then sat back down and took the paperwork from the folder he had been carrying. He ripped apart the blister pack and took out the dull gold-colored pen refill, more slender than the one the Cross had come with. "Cheap," he sighed. Opening the Cross he took out the old ink-barrel and tossed it then slipped the new refill inside. Nothing tingled or flashed or warned him in anyway.
The first blank on the application was his name. He could fill that out truthfully, at least, and so he did. "Simon K. Brent." What the? He stared at his name on the page.
The purple ink didn't change color to any sort of comforting black or blue.
"I, I can't turn in an application written in purple ink!" he said out loud. He retrieved the blister pack from the trash and scanned it indignantly. "Majik Brand Universal Ink Refill" it said. "Color of Ink: Loving Lavender."
He considered storming back to the little shop and confronting the strange old man who had mysteriously called him by name and hadn't seemed to know what state he was in. No, that sounded as bad an idea as any other he had had in the last few years. Confrontations made his knees tremble and his bladder feel weak anyway.
He debated internally borrowing a black or blue ink pen from someone to fill out one of the other applications, but the sand had all run out of him. How was he going to get a job now, anyway? All the forms had the same questions.
"Who was your last employer?" Pacific Federal Savings and Loan.
"Reason for leaving?" Fired for embezzlement. Sure, someone would hire him after reading that, written in purple ink, no less!
He bit his lip. Well, they hadn't pressed charges. He wouldn't go to jail but they had made him put his signature on a piece of paper admitting his crime. And he could always lie on his employment application. After all, he was an accused thief, why stick at lying?
The glare from the big window at the end of the food court made his eyes water. He wiped them with a napkin and a trembling hand and sighed. His lips curved around a sour smile, it wasn't an expression that suited him.
He sat back down at the table and stared at the application for a moment then went to work, filling out blanks with complete and total lies. Maybe no one would catch him out. Maybe he'd be able to get a job and put his past behind him.
The purple ink bugged him though. It seemed sort of girly. Like maybe he should be dotting his i's with little hearts and flowers.
He'd just done that very thing on the second application; he'd filled in the name blank with 'Simone' and drawn a little heart for the dot! He shivered a bit, he must be worse off than he thought, acting out even trivial impulses.
And misspelling his own name.... When he'd been younger, the kids at school had teased him by calling him Simone. He'd been small and weak and sort of pretty with full dark eyelashes and curly hair. It had especially hurt when the girls used the wrong name because he had thought that many of them were his friends.
He still had those physical traits, of course; the mop of curly black hair, the clear, pale skin that made his lips seem redder and fuller, the long dark lashes framing the bright blue eyes. At five foot seven and only 130 pounds, Simon was often mistaken for a teenager even though he had passed his 27th birthday a few months ago.
And in dim light, like in bars, he'd sometimes been mistaken for a girl. Which was one reason he stayed out of bars.
He sighed and started to crumple up the application but again, the futility of his situation sapped his will. What he needed was a brand new start in life.
A strange, mad, desperate idea began to form in his mind. He went back to filling out the applications, chuckling grimly. "It's just a joke," he told himself. "These applications are ruined with this purple ink anyway. What does it matter what I write in the blanks?"
The person Simon described on the applications was almost entirely fictitious. He got a little silly, even; he changed his birthday from May 3 to March 5 and made himself ten years younger. I'll be a Pisces instead of a Gemini, he mused. Pisces are more trustworthy, aren't they? He had no idea, really.
His birthplace he changed from Westminster, California to Westminster, England. He wasn't even sure that was a city. And with a little smiling flower instead of an X, he marked the box beside the F for sex. Female. He grinned nervously and folded the applications.
He sat for awhile and sipped the dregs of his orange drink, trying not to think at all. Why bother? Thinking wasn't going to get him out of the mess he found himself in.
A little dazed, he wandered back through the mall, dropping off the applications in the various in boxes and slots of the stores where he had picked them up. He wasn't sure why he did that, just completing the joke he thought. No one was going to look at an application filled out in purple ink, not seriously.
But now he had no money, no real hope of a job and not even bus fare for getting back to his cheerless apartment.
He'd have to call his mother and ask for another loan. And listen to another lecture about how he'd ruined his life. Maybe that was why, in filling out the fictitious applications he had listed his father's younger sister as his only parent, or rather the only parent of Simone K. Brent. "I think I would rather be Aunt Gloria's bastard daughter than listen to another lecture," he thought.
He decided to walk home to his apartment from the mall, what choice did he have? Even if he called his mother, he'd get an answering machine at this time of day. The self-pity felt like gumbo clinging to his feet and making every step seem to be up an endless hill.
He had to pass near the edge of the downtown area, going this way. Maybe he should have come downtown instead of taking a bus to the mall, he wouldn't have had to walk so far back. And maybe he could have found a real refill for his pen instead of a purple one from that weird store.
The police-station-city-hall-and-jail complex intimidated him and he went two blocks out of his way to avoid walking near it. I'm not a criminal, he told himself, I just made a mistake.
Then he stopped and stared. Right there, across the street, between Fernando's Bail Bonds and Klesowitz Pawnshop, there it was. The freaky little store from the mall.
Was it a damn chain of franchises? Spells-R-Us?
He stared for a bit longer then shook his head. Maybe he could go in and get a refund on the crappy refill he'd bought. The now used refill that he hadn't kept the blister pack from and had never even got a receipt. He snorted.
It would be smarter to go to the pawn shop and sell his worthless gold pen. The metal alone should bring thirty or forty dollars. Not that pawnshop, though, not the one next to the strange little store. There was another pawnshop in the next block. He started walking again.
A man dressed in a slightly rumpled business suit staggered out of a bar and looked at him. Good grief, thought Simon, it's not three p.m. and this guy is drunk.
"Heysa?" said the inebriated businessman. "Is it dark out yet?"
"No," said Simon. Now why did I bother answering him.
The drunk fell into step beside him, "Well, then, I guess I'm lucky, huh, yes indeed." He grinned a sloppy loose-lipped grin at Simon.
"I don't know you," Simon began. What did this guy want?
"Oh, that's okay," said the drunk solemnly. "I don't know you either, and I kinda prefer it that way."
Simon picked up his pace, but the drunk stayed with him, more than half a foot taller he had no trouble keeping up. Maybe I should guide him into a telephone pole, thought Simon.
"How much?" said the drunk suddenly, grabbing Simon by the upper arm.
"Yeah, you know? How much do you need?"
"Do I need?" Simon struggled against the grip, an edge of panic in his voice.
"Yeah, what's your rate?"
Simon had a terrible feeling that he knew what the man meant now. With a gurgled shriek, stifled by stuffing his free hand in his mouth, he broke away from the man and stumbled backward. Horrified and ashamed though he had certainly done nothing wrong, he stared at his accoster and walked backward till he stopped up against a parked car.
"Don't be that way," said the man. "You need money don't you?" He stepped forward, reaching into his pocket to pull out a wad of bills. "I got money, you got what I need."
"No, no." Simon ran.
He heard what the man called him as he ran away; an accusation, an assumption and a form of address. His face burned and he yelped again as he crossed a street without a light, dodging through traffic.
"I'm not," he whimpered. But he didn't slow down until he went around the next corner. "I'm not that desperate," he told himself. "Not yet."
He stopped to get his breath and his bearings. Where had he run to?
Or had he run anywhere? There was that damned shop again.
But this was Abraham's Pawn and Music on one side and a laundromat on the other. And it faced Fifth Street, not Broadway. He looked around, dazed, disoriented. He certainly knew where he was, he'd grown up in this town, he could name all the streets and knew most of the businesses.
And before this morning, he'd never seen a store called Spells'R'Us, never heard of it, there couldn't be three such stores in his hometown. One in the mall, one downtown and one on a side street.
What. Kinda. Thing. Was. Happening. Here?
His brain started and stopped and stalled out completely. He just stood and stared at the sign for a long while. Finally, he shook off his paralysis and decided that not thinking, especially not thinking about a store that seemed to be following him was a good thought; but not thinking about that...what should he be thinking about?
Money. The drunk had been right in one thing, he did need money. A few dollars would give him enough to eat so that he didn't have to call his mother for cash, for at least a few more days.
He had a gold pen, with a crappy purple refill in it, but the barrel was real gold. And there stood a pawnshop. With a sign in the window that said, "We Buy Gold."
He crossed the street and went through the door.
"Hello, again, Simon," said the old man.
It almost looked like a pawnshop inside, with all manner of odd things; nameless stringed instruments and handmade silk kites decorated with pictures of pandas; bottles of unidentifiable oils and a stack of hats that might have been worn by Davy Crockett, Henry the Eighth, Shaka Zulu and Cleopatra; all manner of objects whose purposes he could not imagine and a stuffed dog as big as a pony lying on the floor next to the very familiar old man..
"I'm..." Simon began.
"Yes," said the old man. "You're back in my shop."
"How..." he tried to ask.
"You just walked through the door," said the old man. "I'm a wizard in answer to that next question."
"God," said Simon.
"A chance resemblance, I assure you," said the wizard.
The dog showed teeth in a grin and Simon realized that it was a real live wolf, not a stuffed animal at all, and that it probably weighed twice what he did. The grin was not reassuring in the least, being made from ivory teeth more than two inches long.
"If you squeak like that again," warned the old man, "you might be mistaken for a mouse."
Simon stood very still and made not a sound.
The wizard and the wolf looked at him contemplatively and speculatively, respectively. The wizard spoke first, though Simon felt sure that the wolf had just been about to say something. "Are you sure your aunt would want a teenage daughter?" asked the old man.
Simon tried to think. Aunt Gloria had once confided to him that she had had an abortion while in college, a decision she had felt was necessary at the time but still had bittersweet feelings of lost attached to it after all these years.
"All right," said the wizard. "You obviously get along with her if she told you that."
I did not say that aloud, Simon told himself.
"No, you didn't," agreed the wizard.
Simon made a noise, not a squeak, more of a moan.
"You wanted to sell the pen you had just bought a refill for?" said the wizard.
It wasn't exactly a non sequitur, somehow this whole thing was about that refill. Simon nodded cautiously.
"Lemme see it," said the wizard.
Simon handed the gold keepsake to the old man in the bathrobe.
The wizard unscrewed the barrel and removed the refill, "This is almost new," he said. "It could last you for years yet." He pocketed the gold pen and took out another more colorful object. A cheap plastic pen with a pink and purple barrel and a yellow cap shaped like a daisy. Opening this unlikely writing instrument, the wizard inserted the nearly new refill. "I'll trade you," said the wizard, holding out the assembled gewgaw.
Simon stared. There could hardly be a more girly pen on the planet. He didn't make a move to accept it and the wizard suddenly snatched it back.
"Maybe you can't afford it," he said.
Simon either shook his head yes or nodded it no.
"You didn't steal the money, did you?" said the wizard more kindly.
"Your drawer came up short and they bullied you into signing a confession, didn't they?"
"Yes," Simon croaked. "They said otherwise they would call the police and I would go to jail." His eyes filled up with tears and he didn't even care that the old man stood there and watched him cry. The wolf put its head down on its paws and looked away.
"They haven't come under my jurisdiction," said the wizard. "Not yet, anyway, I rather hope they do. Or he does. One particular vice president in that bank...had a thing for you, did you know that?"
Simon's ears tried to crawl together on top of his head to join his eyebrows. "No!"
The wizard grinned and shook his head. "And you, you're no damn good with money anyway, are you?"
"A bank was the last place you should have been working, you gave the two hundred dollars to one Mrs. Maria Luz Gongora, instead of a pair of tens."
The wizard nodded, "She bought presents for her grandkids and pads for her bunions, then she lit a candle for you and confessed her sin to a priest. He told her to take the money back, but she couldn't, she didn't have it."
"How do you know..."
"Don't ask," warned the wizard. He held up the pretty purple pen, "I want more from you for this than just a stick of gold that someone gave you."
Simon stared. "What. What do you want?"
The old man put the pen in Simon's hand and wrapped both of their fingers around it. The wizard's hands were old and wrinkled but surprisingly soft, his grip was firm and he held Simon fast.
Staring directly into his eyes, the wizard told Simon, "I want you to go home, take this pen and go home to your apartment. You don't have the money to pay the rent and you'll be out on the street in another week, so I'm going to help you out."
The wizard's voice was not loud but it roared through Simon's mind. "You've got a yellow t-shirt and a grey pair of sweat pants and a pair of black shower thongs. Go home, take all of your clothes off, even your underwear and put those things on."
"What?" asked Simon feebly.
"Don't worry, you'll be able to remember these instructions. When you're dressed, gather up everything you own that's in that apartment. It will probably only fill two or three garbage bags. Take it all down to the Goodwill box on the corner. Everything except the t-shirt, the sweat pants, the shower flops and this pen, give the rest of it all away. Don't take anything else with you, lock the apartment with the key inside."
He let go of Simon's hands and stepped back. "You'll have your fresh start, Simon. If you want it badly enough."
Simon opened his mouth, but the wizard shook his head. "No more questions, follow instructions and the refill in that pen will last you a lifetime, a new lifetime." He didn't say it unkindly but firmly.
Simon turned, dazed. He looked for the door.
"Funny thing about lifetimes," said the wizard. "They're not like yardsticks, no one can know exactly how long one is until they've measured it end to end. A life is more like the ink in a ballpoint pen, sealed up, ready for use, finite but of unknown length.
"Even mine," he added sadly but whether sad because it would turn out to be too short or too long, he didn't say.
Simon staggered toward the door. The wizard's voice followed him. "That new refill should last you a good long time, use it and have fun with it. It's got purple ink, you know, just for the fun of it."
Opening the door of the shop, it struck Simon as bizarre that outside it was still afternoon, still summer, still his hometown.
"It's a genuine Majik Universal Replacement," said the wizard, smiling, as he closed the door.
How he made it home, Simon could not have described. The few blocks to his apartment seemed an uncrossable gulf when he looked back. He'd been in some other country, a strange land ruled by an old man in a dirty bathrobe.
He put the purple-red-and-yellow pen on his little kitchenette table then sat and stared at it a while.
A new start. "If I want it," he said out loud. Enough to give up everything.
He went to the bedroom and found the yellow t-shirt, and the grey sweat pants. He took off his clothes, even his underwear and put on the shirt, too small in the shoulders, and the pants, too loose in the seat. He found the shower flops in the bathroom and he put those on. They fit as well as such things ever did.
He found two garbage bags and moved around the apartment, gathering things that belonged to him. His clothes and shoes, a few books, some food from the cabinets, some bathroom things, it made a very meager pile. He'd lost a lot of his stuff when he'd had to move from his last apartment for non-payment of rent. The flops made slapping noises against his feet as he walked about.
He took his wallet from the pants he'd worn to the mall and looked through the contents. No money, some old receipts, his driver's license and social security card. An expired credit card, his student ID from college five years ago. A picture of his mom and dad, with his two older brothers behind them and he and his sister kneeling in front.
He cried for a while and then he dropped those things into one of the trashbags.
The pretty purple pen he clipped to the neck of the t-shirt then he took a last look around and added a few small things to the bags. They seemed very heavy as he carried them out to the stoop. He turned the lock so it would latch, then he threw the key into the fireplace and pulled the door closed behind him, locking himself out.
He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment then he picked up one bag and slung it over a shoulder and picked up the other bag, half carrying it, half dragging it in one hand, he set off toward the Goodwill store.
The instant he stepped off the stoop, he felt it begin happening. At first, his hair just itched a bit and then his face. He stopped to wipe his cheeks and chin and lips with the hem of the t-shirt and he wiped away most of a day's growth of beard, leaving his face smooth and soft.
He suddenly pulled the t-shirt down as he felt itching begin on his chest. "This can't be real," he murmured.
After a moment, nothing more seemed to happen so he picked up the bags and began his journey again. Across the parking lot of the apartment building and onto the street, he carried and dragged the bags full of his old life. "They're getting heavier," he complained.
His nose itched, then his ears, then his fingers.
He stopped at the sidewalk and ran a more delicate hand through his now shoulder length hair. His chest still itched but he did not scratch there, instead he rubbed his eyebrows and felt hairs that might have been plucked fall away.
"This can't be happening," he told himself. "I'm not turning into Aunt Gloria's daughter." How could something so impossible be the most likely explanation?
He struggled to shoulder one bag and drag the other a few more feet. The bags had gotten bigger as well as heavier. He felt a drawing, pinching sensation in his pants and remembered that he had no underwear on. "That's not it," he said, pausing again to rest. "My balls are shrinking away."
He looked down the street. The Goodwill boxes weren't visible but he knew where they were, more than a block away. "I'm not going to make it." He felt like crying. If he couldn't carry the bags two blocks would he be stuck halfway between lifetimes?
He picked the bags up again and struggled on. His throat spasmed and he knew that his voice had most likely gone up an octave. The t-shirt that had been tight in the shoulders was now loose there but getting tight across the chest. "I'm growing boobs," he told himself in his new voice. "Breasts," he corrected himself with a bit of a grin. Guys called them boobs when the girls weren't around.
Do girls call them boobs or boobies when it's just girls? he wondered. "I'm probably going to find that out."
The sweat pants were tighter across his rounder ass, the flops looser on his smaller feet and he had just felt his dick pull up inside him when the car stopped at the curb. "I'm all sweaty," he thought.
Two guys got out of the car and smiled at him. "Where you going? That isn't trash is it?"
She shook her head. "Um, no? It's for Goodwill." She pointed down the street and realized that she could feel her boobies bounce when she moved like that. "Stuff that belonged to my--cousin," hardly a pause,"he's dead."
They frowned to be polite. "Sorry," said the nearer one. "We just thought you looked like you could use some help?"
She bit her lip on a giggle. This was funny. These guys thought she was a girl. Well, wasn't she? "Um, yeah, I guess I could? I mean, I could if..." I'm not sure? Do the rules allow me to have help? she wondered.
The two guys each took a bag and smiled down at her. They're huge, and I think I've shrunk some more, she decided.
"I'm Andy," said the moose with the crewcut, "that's my brother, Tony."
"'Lo," said the other moose.
They walked toward the Goodwill bins, and she walked between them, feeling tiny. Most of the remaining changes seemed to be internal, she decided as she felt things rearrange inside. I wonder what it's going to be like to have periods?
"What's your name?" asked Moose Number One.
Simone, I hate that name, she thought. What does the K, stand for now? "I'm Karen," she said.
"Do you live around here?" asked Moose Number Two.
"Not exactly, well, not close?" she said. Where do I live now? she wondered. Maybe I'll remember.
With the help of two beasts of burden, the trip to the charity boxes took hardly anytime at all.
As the bags fell into the bins, Karen felt the last of her old life topple into the abyss of never-was. Suddenly afraid, she grabbed the pen clipped to the collar of her yellow t-shirt and held it tightly. She closed her eyes and sighed in relief.
"You hadn't lost it," said Andy. "That's a cute pen."
She smiled remembering and repeating what the wizard had said, "It's got purple ink, just for fun."
The boys laughed and she giggled to hear them laugh.
"What are you doing tonight?" asked Tony.
She blinked. "Um, I'm seventeen, guys?" she said. Seventeen. Yes, I'm seventeen, she repeated to herself.
"When's your birthday?" Andy asked quickly.
She laughed again, "Not till March?"
"Six months," moaned Tony, "I'm dying."
"You guys are silly," she said. "And I'm all hot and...um, glowing?"
They grinned at her.
Uh oh, she blushed as she realized what she had said. They don't really care that I'm only seventeen and sweaty. She said aloud, "Have either of you got a phone I can borrow? I need to call my mom?"
With a show of reluctance, Andy handed her a phone. Do I know the number, she wondered? But her fingers were already tapping it out.
When Gloria answered she felt like babbling but restrained herself, "Mom? Can you come pick me up?"
"We can give you a ride," offered Tony.
"Where are you?" asked Mom. "I didn't even know you'd left the house!"
"Um, I took some stuff to Goodwill," she had the pen in her other hand again and she clicked the button in the middle of the yellow flower. "There's two guys here that want to give me a ride."
"I'll be right there," said Gloria. "Stay put."
"Yes, ma'am," she said to her mother. "I love you, Mom."
"I love you too, dear, but don't get in any car with boys you don't know."
"I won't." She disconnected and handed the phone back to Andy.
They talked about nothing much in great detail while Karen waited for her mom. Gloria drove up in a brown BMW and glared at the two young men as Karen got in.
Andy handed her something before she closed the door. "My number," he said. "You can call me on your birthday?"
She grinned and nodded.
Glory pulled away from the curb and tried to scowl at her daughter, "You could have been in big trouble there, young lady."
"Mom! They were nice, they helped me carry stuff."
"Well, just you don't get carried away. I swear you're going to make me old before I'm forty. You deserve a good scolding, you know?" said Gloria.
"You're not Aunt Beth, Mom, you're no good at scoldings."
"Maybe I should take lessons from her," said Gloria. "Except that then I'd have to listen to her scold me for letting you run wild."
They both giggled. "Oh, Mom, you know I'm too chicken to do anything really bad?"
"I know," agreed Gloria. "But I worry about whether you have good sense sometimes."
"Can I go to college next year, Mom?"
"See what I mean? What brought that up? Were those two college boys?"
"Well, we'll see."
"You need to bring your grades up," reminded Gloria as they drove through the downtown area.
Karen made a face. "Okay," she said. I did it once, I can do it again, she thought. Then she turned her head quickly, trying to catch a glimpse of a storefront she thought she had seen out of the corner of her eye.
"What?" asked Gloria.
"Nothing," said Karen. "Mom, don't get in an accident, okay?"
Gloria turned back to her driving. "I won't."
Karen smiled, thinking about things that never were and things that now might be someday. What will it be like to feel a man inside me, she wondered. Will I like it? What will it be like to be married, to be pregnant, to have kids to take care of?
She sighed happily, the future looked scary but with a potential for joy it had not had before she bought a refill for her favorite pen.
She took it from where she had clipped it again to her t-shirt. Do I have a diary, she wondered? Sure, I do, full of hearts and flowers and smiley faces drawn in purple ink, just for fun. She giggled.
Gloria smiled at her. "What's funny?"
Karen grinned, just then remembering something else, "I'm not wearing any panties."
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