Have you tried your pencil? said Virginia. Tried it? said Ditto. Yes, said Virginia, to see if it works, it might be a magic pencil. A magic pencil? said Ditto. Yes, said Virginia, a pencil that makes whatever you want come true. Really? said Ditto. Yes, said Virginia. How can I tell it if it works? said Ditto. Write something down, said Virginia, and see it if comes true—you can use this scrap of paper. Anything? said Ditto. Yes, said Virginia, describe your idea of a perfect day.
Harlan? said Blurtso. Yes? said Harlan. Do you ever get frightened? Frightened? said Harlan. Yes, said Blurtso. Sometimes, said Harlan. Why? said Blurtso. Well, said Harlan, when you consider how fragile things are–life, love, happiness–and how they’re certain to vanish, and the nothingness that follows, it’s natural to be frightened… but you can still be optimistic. You can? said Blurtso. Sure, said Harlan, we still have a tin of chocolate, and plenty of whipped cream.
Where’s your pencil? said Virginia. I left it at home, said Ditto. What about the museum, said Virginia, and the tourists and audio phones? I’m not going to do it, said Ditto. Why? said Virginia. I like Concord the way it is. Yes, said Virginia, the library, the cemetery, the inn, and the friendly people at the Main Street Café—it’s a nice town, and more traffic might spoil it. Yes, said Ditto, and encourage someone to put a stop light on Main Street.
Well, said Virginia, no one in Concord is missing a pencil. No, said Ditto, they looked at us like we were crazy. I guess people don’t use pencils anymore, said Virginia. No, said Ditto, I guess not. What’ll we do with it? said Virginia. If we save it, said Ditto, it might become an antique. An antique? said Virginia. Yes, said Ditto, like putt putt boats, cassette tapes, and common courtesy. And people would travel for miles to see it? said Virginia. Yes, said Ditto, and we’d keep it behind glass, and rent headphones to explain its history. So the tourists would know what to think? said Virginia. Yes, said Ditto, and realize how important it is, and not complain about the admission fee. Visitors would come to Concord from all over the world! said Virginia. Yes, said Ditto, they would.