Pencil Sharpener This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   The air in the classroom felt like the inside of amicrowave. I took a deep breath as I put my pencil to the paper andresumed writing. Ah, I thought. Just one sentence to go, and I'll bethrough - damn it!

Disaster struck. The lead broke on my schoolbus-yellow number two pencil three words away from the finish line. Cursing mydastardly luck, I trudged to the front of the room to sharpen my instrument ofscriptology. As I approached the counter where the manual pencil sharpener wasmounted, I realized there was a new addition to my teacher's arsenal ofclassroom-enhancing devices: a Boston-brand electric pencil sharpener. I staredat the electrified mogul of pencil-shavings, then shifted my gaze to itsrelatively antique counterpart.

"Well," I whispered to myself,because I was the only student sharpening a pencil at the time. "What adilemma." I decided to make an adventure out of my trip to the front of theroom and discuss with myself the pros and cons of each sharpener.

I wasjust about to start when I heard a quiet but deep voice say, "Not really, ifyou ask me." The voice, I abruptly realized, came from the manual pencilsharpener. His voice was gruff from years of lead.

"Oh!And why is that?" I whispered, as if I spoke with classroom utilities on aregular basis. I actually did, but the conversations had always beenone-sided.

"You should use me for all your sharpening needs. Juststick your little pencil in and crank my crank. You're good to go!" Thecrank actually turned as the sharpener spoke, surprising me.

"Don't listen to that geezer. He's old, rusty and greasy to the touch. Iwouldn't sharpen with him if my term paper depended on it." Now theself-promoting electric sharpener was speaking. The soft voice was smooth andcalming, like the sound of pouring water.

"I am not greasy! I'vechipped a lot more wood than you ever will. At least I don't make an obnoxious,disgruntled sound when I do my duty. Why don't you learn to chew quietly?"The classic piece was getting angry, and his woodgrain casing was shaking withfury. I considered using the manual to crank away my stress and acquire thefeeling of self-satisfaction provided by the hand-operated machine.

Theelectric sharpener hadn't spoken his last words, though. "Why don't you justuse me? You know you want to. I'm fast and easy, even though I make a lot ofnoise. You know you can't crank that manual as fast as I can go. I chip the woodat an astounding rate, and catch all the chips neatly in my belly. I'm much likea beaver." The sharpener's power cord protruding toward the wall behind thetable swayed from side to side as the wave of the pencil-sharpening futurespoke.

"See that cord?" It was the manual again. "The foolcan't even support himself without that cord. Looks like the Boston beast doeshave a weakness."

By this time I was starting to worry. What if Iused the manual and my pencil broke, and no one else could sharpen manually forthe rest of the day? What if I used the electric, and there was a loud noise andthe teacher got mad at me for interrupting the writing session? If I were to useeither one, I would never be able to sharpen a pencil again without a complaintfrom the other. I scratched my left temple with the pink eraser on my pencil. Ilooked right, left, then right again. I looked at my pencil after finishingscratching my head.

Instead of sharpening the wooden dowel, I tossed itinto a garbage can under the table that supported the two pencil sharpeners,drawing squeals from both of them. I produced a white Bic from my pocket andreturned to my seat, finishing my paper in neat blue ink.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
yesterday at 5:59 am
i love this !
Winters_Willow said...
Aug. 18, 2012 at 8:40 am
I really like this story! It's cute, and the ending was totally unexpected! I also really liked your use of language. Good job!! :D
carolyn G. said...
Feb. 21, 2009 at 8:32 pm
I like it. Its so creative- you made a common thing people do every day into a story. Nice! : -]
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