Pen Pals

Prompt: Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?


“So many emails say so little,” writes Norma Cone in her first letter to me. Her penmanship incorporates elaborate loops and smoothly conjoined letters from years of perfecting her cursive. In comparison, my script is poorly developed, a reflection of my generation’s dependency on keyboards to mask our flaws. Still I write.

Norma is an ailing senior citizen and I am her volunteer companion, a position I signed up for two years ago and have happily returned to every summer since. For twenty hours each vacation week, I embark on my quest to eradicate the mountains of clutter that occupy every surface of her apartment. When summer ends and my free time becomes consumed, I find a new environment to continue my adventures with Norma – the pages of a letter. When I scrawl my replies with a retractable ballpoint pen, a childish relative to the beautiful fountain pen Norma uses, I want to share as much of myself with her as I can. Whereas anyone can peek at my Twitter page and glean a quick life update, Norma receives the unabridged story packed with details, emotion, and self-reflection. I tell her about my national volleyball team’s success during our tournament in Washington, DC while gushing about how I was in the same city as our...

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