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The Pencil Sharpener

The Wild Rose Press

Heat Rating: SWEET
Word Count: 11,155
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Change is hard for Mitzi Miller, a spunky, elderly widow who misses her house and the way things used to be. After her husband dies, she regretfully sells the fixer-upper she owned for half-a-century. Mitzi is still homesick nearly five years later.

On her seventy-sixth birthday, she grants her own wish to return “home” with a bizarre request for an old pencil sharpener she left behind. There she embarks on a nostalgic journey led by her memories and the new owner's bouncy dog.

Can this visit bring Mitzi the closure she needs to help her move on?

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“Your name’s John, right? I have a son-in-law named John. He and my Darla have four kids. When he worked midnights, he’d sleep here, away from his noisy little ones.” I pointed and looked up, and a heavy snowflake splattered my eye. “I made the room nice and dark and quiet for him. He got his best sleeps right up there. And their kids did, too, when they slept over. They used to come every Friday while their mom and dad had bowling league. Now they’re all grown up. Silly clock.”

He squinted. “Oh yeah! You used to live here. I remember meeting when I bought the house and some furniture off you a few years ago. Yes, I’m John. John Lincoln. So, you’d like your old pencil sharpener back?”

He remembered me! “Yes! I’m Mitzi Miller. I know it’s been a while. I sold you the house nearly five years ago, shortly after my husband Red died. He built these steps out here, but he passed before he got to add the awning.” As I babbled in the blizzard, John unlatched the chain and opened the door partway, enough that I saw the sun porch still covered by tan linoleum. “Now, I live up on the hill, just ten minutes away, with my son Freddy. He has a new wife with a teenager who live there now, too.”

A yellow-whiskered snout sniffed its way out to where I stood. “Lily, get back! Go away,” John lightly scolded. I once had a neighbor across the street named Lily, but she wasn’t fuzzy. This Lily, who did not go away, stood there panting and sticking out her wet tongue that looked like pink chewing gum. John’s leg barricaded her from me. I never, everhad a dog in my house.

“Nice doggie.” I shuddered. “I’m sorry to intrude, but I was in the area having cake with Mrs. Taylor down the road. She and most of my friends can’t drive in the dark anymore, but I still can. She wanted to see me to celebrate my birthday, so she invited me over for her sour cream coffeecake. There’s extra. Do you want a treat?”

“Woof, woof, woof!” Lily spoke, proudly barking for a treat. I gasped.

“Lily, not you!” John chided.