"I got a new pen," Michael says.
I put down the book I am reading and stare at him. He has had the same Parker pen for more than 15 years. It goes to work with him every day in his shirt pocket and comes home every day. It is not fancy or expensive, but it has been a good, faithful pen.
"Why?" I ask.
He shows me the old pen. Its plastic barrel is fractured and the end is chipped. "This pen is close to death," he says. "I didn't want it to die."
The new pen is shinier, heavier. He puts it in his shirt pocket to test it out and we both notice that it has something the old pen didn't -- pocket sag. I immediately resent the new pen.
"What will you do with the old pen?"
"It'll be a stay-at-home pen," he says. We're both quiet. The moment feels strangely sad; the old pen's retirement seems to signify the end of something else, though neither of us can say exactly what.
Then he takes something out of a paper bag and shows it to me with a crooked smile. "I got it a refill."