Kallan hands me a Sharpie marker. Black, ultra-fine point. I pull off the cap to test the marker on a notepad next to my computer.
I stick it in my back pocket so I don’t forget to give it to Maj.
I promptly forget about the pen in my back pocket, because I am 45 and I am a busy woman and things placed in my back pocket do not generally recapture my attention unless they buzz (like my phone) or stab me in the ass.
Later in the day, I climb into the car and I am stabbed in the ass.
Oh, that’s right! The pen!
I pull it out of my pocket and turn around in my seat as Mark backs the car out of the driveway, “Hey, Maj? Have you ever had a pen like this?”
Maj’s tone is oddly accusatory, “Why, yes Mother. Yes, I have.”
“OK, so you know . . .,” but before I can finish this sentence, Maj interrupts with angry blaming words.
“You know very well I had a pen just like that one, Mother. JUST like that one.”
“Wait, are you accusing me of . . .”
“Just like that one, Mother. I had a pen JUST LIKE THAT ONE, and it was thieved from me.”
“Seriously, Maj? Thieved from you?”
“I live in a family of thieves, apparently. That pen was mine when I was in 5th grade and I loved that pen and then it was thieved from me. Thieved from me by my mother, apparently, which is just so alarming I do not even have words to express the depth of my shock and disappointment.”
I am giggling now, “You are saying this pen is the pen you lost when you were in 5th grade?”
“Yes, Mother. Hand it over immediately.”
“So this pen has been missing for two years, and you are confident that the pen I am holding is the same pen?”
“HAND IT OVER, MOTHER! Who knows what you’ve been doing with that pen for the last two years? I just hope there’s some ink left in it.”
“Maj, you are killing me. You don’t know this pen is the pen you lost two years ago.”
“First of all, I did not LOSE the pen, it was thieved from me. Thieved from me by the very person who is now holding the pen, which HELLO, is YOU. And second of all, I recognize the pen. That is my pen.”
Kallan can’t stand it any longer, “Maj, you might want to give Mommy a chance to talk.”
Maj explodes, “TELL KALLAN TO STAY IN HER OWN BUSINESS NO ONE ASKED FOR HER OPINION DID I ASK FOR KALLAN’S OPINION NO I DID NOT DID YOU ASK FOR KALLAN’S OPINION NO YOU DID NOT AND YET SOMEHOW KALLAN IS OFFERING HER OPINION WHICH IS JUST SO ANNOYING TO ME SHE IS THE MOST ANNOYING GIRL IN THE ENTIRE WORLD MAKE HER BE QUIET AND GIVE ME BACK MY PEN MOTHER GIVE ME BACK MY PEN THIS INSTANT!”
Kallan sits back in her seat, “Fine, Maj. Carry on.”
I roll the pen in my fingertips, breathless with giggles, “Maj, did you say that you recognize this pen as uniquely yours? How is that possible? It’s a regular old Sharpie.”
Maj throws her hands up in disgust, “Are you suggesting I would not know my own pen, Mother? That is lunacy.”
“It’s been a long time, Maj. This feels an awful lot like my pen. It fits just perfectly in my fingers.”
“OF COURSE IT FEELS LIKE YOUR PEN MOTHER YOU HAVE BEEN WRONGFULLY WRITING WITH IT FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS. YOU HAVE BEEN WRITING WITH AN ABDUCTED PEN BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE THE PEN YOURS NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU USE THE PEN TO WRITE THIS IS MY PEN ON A PIECE OF PAPER IT IS NOT YOUR PEN IT IS AN ABDUCTED PEN AND I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS YOU CAN’T JUST KIDNAP THINGS YOU LIKE MOTHER DO YOU GO AROUND KIDNAPPING CHILDREN YOU LIKE BECAUSE THEN I WOULD BEGIN TO WONDER IF PERHAPS WE ARE NOT YOUR REAL CHILDREN PERHAPS WE ARE ABDUCTED CHILDREN AND NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU USE THAT STOLEN PEN TO WRITE THESE ARE MY DAUGHTERS WE ARE NOT YOUR DAUGHTERS BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN ABDUCTED AND KIDNAPPED AND STOLEN AND WE MUST NOW BE RETURNED TO OUR RIGHTFUL FAMILIES JUST LIKE MY PEN MUST BE RETURNED TO ME TWO YEARS I HAVE BEEN WITHOUT MY PEN HAND IT OVER RIGHT THIS SECOND MOTHER WHO MAY NOT EVEN BE MY MOTHER.”
Kallan stares at her sister, “Wow.”
I laugh, “Are you done, Maj? Because when you are done, I need to tell you something.”
Kallan begs, “Oh, please can I tell her?”
Maj sulks, “Fine, no one listens to me. I am the wronged party here, but do we address this wrong? No, we do not. It’s like I haven’t even spoken. No one listens to me or gives back my stolen property. Instead, yes . . . let’s all be silent so the beloved younger daughter can talk. Oooooh . . . what treasure words does she have to share?”
Kallan can hardly speak, she is laughing so hard, “Maj, Mommy bought me a five-pack of ultra-fine Sharpie markers for school. I only need four of them, so I gave the extra one to Mommy. The pen Mommy is holding is the pen I gave her from my school supplies.”
Maj is incredulous, “LIAR!”
Kallan shakes her head, “No, it’s true.”
Maj thinks about this for a few seconds, and when she speaks again, her voice is thoughtful, “Well, this is an unexpected turn of events.”
I shake the pen in the air as I turn back to the front of the car, “Maj, I started to ask if you have ever had a pen like this because it is a nice pen, and I thought you would like it. I was planning on giving it to you, but then you had to go all insane and loony and accusatory.”
Maj’s voice is filled with regret, “There’s no reason for you to take any of this personally, Mother. You could just decide to be the bigger person and give me the pen anyway. Yes, there were some unfortunate words spoken, but who even remembers exactly what was said?”
Kallan helps out, “I remember something about how Mommy kidnapped us and then wrote lies about how we were her real children with a thieved pen.”
Maj glares at Kallan, “Very helpful. Thank you.”
Maj turns back to me, extends her hand into the front of the car, “So can I have the pen?”
I turn to look at her, “Nope. Not a chance in you-know-what.”
Mark snorts with laughter, “This woman here in the car is sooooo your mother, Maj.”
Maj throws herself back in her seat, “Dang it.”
Wait . . . what?