I Am A Pen

Hana Hallak

Wake is unattainable, and I write from the depths of a dream within a dream. The dream was once alive and breathing, yes, in fact it was so alive seething with hope only seen by the eyes of the young. Perhaps because these young eyes were too pure to grasp the cruelty sometimes... However I was present at the breakeven of this purity, where in a space of breath, this youth aged a thousand times.

It was cold that day, I remember, and I had waited to be warmed by the hand that held me in a strong grip that told me we will deviate into metaphorical flights and literary merit. I had waited to plague pages and pages with the surges of creativity that never failed to assure me; these small hands have big plans. But the grip that day was too loose to mean any good at all, ‘had the creativity fallen anemic this unholy night?’ I thought. But what was even more concerning that the hands that faintly clutched me were colder than that winter night. Then came a whispering cry, so muffled, as though afraid the walls would hear it. It had fed storms in my ink’s system it felt as though it had turned to poison that begs to spell ‘What ails you, child!’. Here came a feeling I only ever wrote of but never understood, here came fear.

That moment in time felt extended, suspended, hazy, as though under water- slow, despite the tension- which was the calmest it would get before my child would join the army of the dispossessed. For that moment, he stood like marble. I cannot see but I could feel his pallor appearance pale in a dim bluish darkness, as it felt the life was being sucked from his veins- then I felt a tinge of his youth wash over me before it escaped, while it could. Time had stopped, and demon or angel or evil spirit, I just needed something to show itself, the lad had been vexed and it seemed all the power of man could not relive his spirit alone. But he broke free with the strength of his own willpower, and this was my first discovery of lad’s strength. His revival was an impulse of startle at the sound of his own cry, as he realized, there wasn’t time.

I was then held up and a panicked hushed breath came over me like a promise that didn’t know what it was promising, like a kiss of apology on the forehead of a dead man- it tried to communicate something but there was nothing to say. Meeting the outdoors, we stood embracing the silence that brushed past us, amid a cold darkness that stretched to what seemed was infinite. I was then met by the strong conviction that the worst is real.

In a sudden I was snatched from this delirium into a small sweet palm I recognize, which at that moment was brittle. I know this palm was lad’s younger sibling’s because it had once held me as lad was teaching him the alphabets. I know lad was a good teacher because sibling was soon after writing them on his own. But that was a distant memory almost only imagination to the bitter reality that was taking place. I was put in a satchel, and we embarked the horrendous terror of the mysteries of the night in those streets of the damned.

I will not describe the details of that journey whose story alone combusts the soul, but I will tell you the lighter escalation of how it came to this. There is a necklace with me in the bag. I cannot see. But I recognize it because I had felt its exact same surface before; When I was in the palms of their mother, pressed against her chest which beat with a harmonious pulse of excitement. I was held hidden by her soft hands, which spread like wings on her chest that wore that necklace- and that was my first encounter of it. She then slowly lowered her hands to present me, and the air of her words as she spoke was a breeze of pure crystal, so tender I feared they would break if interrupted. I was embraced with such care and a voiceless murmur, whose echo seemed to contemplate a splendor. My enamels from the Far East were stroked as though with glory, as I fit perfectly into the little hand of whom I’d been gifted to. That was my first encounter of lad, and my place in his hand was my throne since. I was then amid a hug that had lasted all the warmth even the finest of my words could not describe. The following days, child wrote a furious lot, and I knew he was bound to be a master writer, he had a feverous passion.

By time, I marked his progress between curiosity and amazement, pride and concern, for at a pace his innocence was beginning to sullen...Child quickly became a writer, from a descriptive and inquisitive eye, to, technically, a theorist of matters that could dilate the brain considering his age. Child grew inside, as political conflict grew in size, and before anyone knew it, war raged.

Needless to say, all hell let loose, and hearing of it from a child so aware- it rendered me. He was afraid they would come for his building next, that the threats they gave his defenseless mother were appalling and made him feel a little bit of his soul sink deeper in a well at the bottom of his throat each time. They threatened with what he could not spell, not because he didn't know how, he just did not have the power to, he said he wanted to convince himself that the threats were dreams. That just like he dreams of bad things in his sleep, he wakes up to bad things from which he will wake up from too.

A dream within a dream, but he could not seem to wake up. I now sit in this bag and whoever is carrying me is running. Their mother is dead. I know this because they would have never taken her dear necklace otherwise. She had two children. Has two children. One of them just grew into a man in less than an hour.

A week later was I out of that bag. It had gotten suffocating as it was soaked with water. Now I know why my writer did not take our writings, he knew we will embark to sea. The moment we reached the shore was the moment where I had acquired a new sense. My newfound ability allowed me to hear.

First thing I heard was an indecipherable friction that halted by a cry. A long, loud cry that cut off for what seemed was because his voice ran out. A cry so full even its following silence was piercing. Next I heard was a surrendered and faded chant screaming ‘He’s dead, my only brother is dead, all I have left!’ and it trailed off to no comforting response from the faint mumbling voices I distinguished were from two other survivors. I then learned the cry was the voice of my writer. I am certain that isn't how it had always sounded. But this was the voice that accompanied me for a week from that hour. I then learned from the two other voices that my writer seemed not be over 12 years of age. And that he had to be buried. That he died. Of hunger- and cold. I learned his body remained on that shore on a distant Turkish island from where the two other voices were saved days later, I could no longer bear to count. I had fallen into an abyss out of space- and out of time.

Before my rebirth there was infinite time, and now after his death, sempiternal time. I had been living luminously between two entities of darkness.* But in that luminous glow was the life of a merit that I cannot name. I do not know his name. But I carry his story.

I do not know his name but you will. I am a pen and you are an apprentice whom had befallen me- and I insist on reproducing his story. A fraction of his life is in me. Tell me his name. The child who only ever wrote of hopes and dreams that could have revived his city from the unrest and now lays beneath the sand of a shore where no one will ever know. The void will weigh on your bones like a curse, until you tell me his name.

Tell me his name.

* My name is red, page 3

Hana Hallak, born on May the 30th in Chicago Illinois, is the only child of a hard working, strong willed mother. She was raised without her father, midst a loneliness and a struggle having a working mother challenged in the strongly conservative Kingdom of SaudiArabia. For these reasons, she developed a keen drive of ambition and sensibility as she grew older. Hana is a Syrian, and for that reason when war broke out in that place she calls home, her sense of purpose was heightened evermore- she thereon initiated numerous humanitarian, innovative, and sustainability projects starting at twelve years old.