Updated: Feb 19, 2020
by Kathleen Henriquo
1st Place The Guyana Annual 2018 Sheila King Award for Short Stories or Children
Kerilee was crying hard. She had lost her pen in the middle of mid-term tests. She had come to school that morning with two pens and, believe it or not, one of them had stopped writing in the middle of the social studies test.
But that was alright. She had two. Now she had lost the good one and this afternoon was English. She had looked everywhere but to no avail. The pen had disappeared.
She had even timidly asked a few of the other children in her class to lend her a pen, but they had either said politely that they could not lend or had been very rude and mean.
So Kerilee sat under the silk cotton tree in the schoolyard and cried hard.
Suddenly, a voice nearby said softly: “What’s wrong, Kerilee? Why are you crying?”
Kerilee looked around and there, behind the tree, was a very short old woman with a strange, round face, looking at her with huge, beady eyes.
“Who are you? And how do you know my name?” asked Kerilee.
“I should know your name. I’m your Fairy Grandmother!” the old woman replied.
“I’ve never heard of a Fairy Grandmother,” said Kerilee in surprise. “Only Fairy Godmothers.”
The old woman looked rather cross. “There are many things you’ve never heard of,” she snapped. “Now tell me why you’re crying.”
Kerilee told her about her lost pen and the old woman said,” Ha! Simple matter!”, reached into her pocket and pulled out a strange looking pen.
“Here!” She said. “This is a special pen. As long as you do as I say, you will never fail a test again. Keep it safe always and only use it to write your tests. Secondly, you must pay the pen ﬁve dollars every day. Every morning drop a ﬁve dollar coin into a jar, kiss the pen and say “Thank you Fairy Grandmother!” When you have one thousand dollars in the jar, bring the money here to this tree and say: “Good morning, Fairy Grandmother! ”
Kerilee took the pen quickly and began to hurry away into the school building as the bell was ringing.
“Hello!!” shouted the old woman. “What do you say?”
“Oh! I forgot!” said Kerilee. “Thank you, Fairy Grandmother!”
With that, she ran into her classroom and wrote her test.
She did fairly well on that test. And on the next one too. Each morning she would drop ﬁve dollars into a peanut butter jar, kiss the pen and say “Thank you, Fairy Grandmother! “
One day, Kerilee ran out of pocket money. Her father usually gave her two thousand dollars every Sunday night with a reminder to spend carefully and not to ask for anymore till next Sunday. But this was only Wednesday and the money was all gone. She had bought two poppies for Remembrance Day, lent Sarah two hundred and feasted on doughnuts and fudge and pholouri with loud sour at the school canteen. All that was left was a few ﬁve dollar coins to pay the pen.
Oh! But there was the jar of coins on her vanity! No, no! Fairy Grandmother had said not to spend the money!
Kerilee did without snacks all that day and the next. But on Thursday, the canteen lady began selling chicken balls. They smelled so good they made her mouth water!
“I know!” she thought. “I’ll just borrow the money from the jar. Next week I’ll put it back.”
The chicken balls tasted really good! But after lunch, Miss Tittley said: “Clear your desks! Get out one sheet of paper. I’m giving you a test.”
Kerilee took out her special pen and started heading up on her sheet of paper, but before she could ﬁnish writing her name. the pen stopped working.
She was quite upset and Miss Tittley said “what’s wrong, Kerilee? Don’t you have a second pen? How careless! Here. Borrow mine.”
She used Miss Tittley’s pen, but as she had grown so used to the pen passing tests for her, she had become lazy and stopped studying. She didn’t know how to answer most of the questions. Dear, dear! Three right out of twenty!
Kerilee was crying again as she gave Miss Tittley back her pen. The kind teacher handed her a tissue and asked: “What’s wrong, Kerilee? How did you do so badly on this test?”
So Kerilee told her about the money and the pen. “My Fairy Grandmother gave me this lucky pen and told me to pay it ﬁve dollars every morning and not to spend the money. But I used it to buy a chicken ball. Now the pen won’t write my tests for me anymore!”
Miss Tittley sat down and laughed and laughed. “Your WHO gave you WHAT?!” she said, wiping tears from her face. “Kerilee there’s no such thing as a Fairy Grandmother or Godmother, and no such thing as a lucky pen either. Some wicked person has tried to fool you into bringing her one thousand dollars every few weeks!
You failed this test because you stopped studying, not because you spent the money. If I were you, I’d forget about that nonsense and begin studying and doing homework again. You’re bright enough to do well if you work hard.”
On her way outside, Kerilee thought about what her teacher had said. “Miss is right, she thought, “I used to pass my tests long before I got this pen. I’m going to start doing homework and studying again.”
So, work she did! And started to get even better grades than before all this lucky pen business.
End of term tests came around and Kerilee did very well. All A’s except for one B in Maths.
As she passed the silk-cotton tree after school, she took the pen from her bag and threw it hard at the tree roots.
“Stupid pen! Stupid Fairy Grandmother! “she said.
From behind the tree, she was sure she heard a long suck teeth.