Waterman: A Story


As I lay there rigid in the darkness wedged tightly next to my twin, I knew something big was about to happen. The box that surrounded us was being tipped and turned and bounced and rolled in ways we had never experienced before.

I wasn’t scared. I was ready.

It started with a loud ripping sound, followed by a sliver of light invading the darkness as the lid above us cracked open slowly. Light streamed in gently at first, then crashed over us like a tsunami as she popped the lid fully open.

“I Love them!” she exclaimed with joy.

She ran her hands over both of us, admiring the slick blue lapis lazuli of our barrels. She checked my ink color (blue) and then my brother’s perfect pencil point. She was happy.

Finally, we were home.

That’s my earliest memory. I couldn’t tell you when or where I was born. Does it matter?  I hang on to that memory now like it’s all I have because I think I’ll never see her again.


It was cold on the table where she left me. The meeting was over and she just walked out. I tell myself she didn’t mean to leave me there all alone. Did she?

What difference does it make? There I was, lonely and afraid.

Then he came. He picked me up quickly and slipped me into a warm, dark pocket. He smelled funny. I hated it.

I like to think she came back looking for me, but I just don’t know. Maybe she replaced me with something better. Maybe she favored my brother, although I certainly doubt it. She used me more, after all. She said she loved me.

He tossed me in a crowded plastic pencil cup on a sterile, putty-colored desk. I was squeezed in between a Bic pen with a chewed-up cap and a dried-out yellow highlighter. There was a pair of scissors, too, steely-cold and hard against my back. Surely, this wasn’t where I was meant to be.

Every morning as the office came to life, I hoped—no, prayed—that today would be the day. Would he bring me out? Would he use me or ignore me?

He certainly didn’t love me.

Eventually, the moment came. He shoved me back into his dark stinky pocket and we drove far away. Soon I was signing papers. Lots of them. Writing letters. Filling out forms. When I wasn’t busy, I got to rest on a beautiful mahogany desk.

“I like it here,” I thought.

There was a leather desk pad, china teacups, and busy people in expensive suits. I fit right in—for a few weeks, at least.

Then the new cleaners came. I was still resting on the desk pad where he left me when they dusted, knocking me carelessly to the ground. I couldn’t help but roll along the polished hardwood floor until I found myself lodged under a corner of a bookcase.

I couldn’t move there in that tight, dusty corner. The woman cleaning stopped for a moment like she might have heard me fall. Then she simply went on with her work.

I stayed there for what felt like years. I could hear people in the office, laughing, arguing, and whispering. Some nights a loud sucking machine would bang against my bookcase tomb but it never quite got close enough to hurt me. So I stayed where I was, hidden from all but the spiders that occasionally shared my corner while hunting for their dinner.


The office was strangely quiet for several days, then big, sweaty men came in. They hauled away the lovely desk and elegant leather chairs. The books were taken from the bookcase I was hidden beneath and finally, the bookcase itself rose above me.

“Well, look at this,” one man said, shaking his head. He picked me up in a course dark hand with fat fingers, admiring the gorgeous blue stone that graced my barrel. “Who would lose such a thing?” he wondered out loud.

He took a piece of cloth from his back pocket, giving it a shake. He rolled me in it gently, then tucked me into his breast pocket.


When the man arrived home, he pulled me from his pocket and gingerly unwrapped me, dusting my body with the cloth. He took me to the kitchen where his wife was cooking.  “Guess what I found?” he said proudly as he showed me off.

They talked quietly while eating a simple meal at a little plastic table. When dinner was over, she took me to another room and wrapped me in a small white box. It was just as dark now as the day long ago when the woman who loved me first opened my case.

That reminded me of my brother, and I wondered where he was.

Was he still with her?

Did she abandon him, too?

Did he miss me?

I stayed there in the dark, lounging on the cushion of cotton the wife laid me on in the box. It was cozy here, but I wanted more.


A few days later there was a commotion in the quiet house. The voices of a young couple lightened the mood, and I could tell the man and his wife were happy.

They all talked excitedly, sang some songs, and ate a cake the women baked that afternoon. Soon, I was moved from the soundless room where I had been left. Even though I was still in my pitch-black box, I could tell I was suddenly in the middle of everything. Could it be?

I remembered that feeling, the rolling and tipping, yes! This was it…. and there it was: The light. The warmth. The joy.

“I love it!” she squealed with delight as she picked me up and admired my shiny blue lapis lazuli.

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