FOR WANT OF A PEN
“David, open up!” Sarah pounded on his door a few more times, then paused to listen. When she didn’t hear anything, she pounded some more.
A door opening behind her made her turn around. Across the hall an older woman was peaking around her door. “Is there a problem?” she asked.
“Hi, I’m Sarah Walsh, David’s sister. I haven’t heard from him for several days, and I’m starting to get a bit worried.”
“He mentioned he had a sister,” the woman said.
“That would be me.” Sarah pointed at David’s door. “You wouldn’t happen to know if he gave anyone a spare key?”
The woman looked Sarah up and down, then nodded. “He gave me one. I’ll go get it.” She closed the door.
Sarah waited. And waited. She was about to knock on the woman’s door when it opened. “Sorry,” the woman said as she held the key out. “It took me a moment to find it.”
Sarah took the key and said, “Thank you.” She went back and unlocked David’s door. “David?” she called when she opened the door.
When she saw what was in his apartment, she cried, “David!” He was slumped against the wall; his skin grey and his eyes blank. Sarah ran to him, but she didn’t need to touch his cold skin to know he was dead. She took him into her arms and cried.
At some point, she looked up and saw the neighbor staring at the wall. Sarah turned and saw that it was covered in words, written in blood.
Four months later
Sarah knocked on the door.
For ten or fifteen seconds, there was the sound of someone moving around inside. Finally, the door opened a crack and an older woman looked out. “Yes?”
Sarah smiled. “Hi. I don’t know if you remember me. I’m Sarah Walsh, my brother lived across the hall.”
“Of course. How are you my dear?”
“I’m doing okay. Thanks. I just wanted to make sure you got this.” Sarah held out a thin book to the woman.
The woman took it and read the title, “For Want of a Pen.”
“It’s a collection of David’s poems. I self-published them for him. If his pen hadn’t run out of ink, maybe he wouldn’t have finished them in blood.”