Where Your Story Ends, Prologue and Chapter One
The Official Rules Regarding the Writing of a Life Story With the Pen
This is the Pen. With this pen, you may literally write out the story of your life before it happens. It is very powerful. Use it wisely. Because of the power of this Pen and the often unforeseen impact it can have on your life and the lives of others, the following rules are instated for use of the Pen. If any of these rules are violated, the book can and will pass out of your possession at once.
1. Upon receiving the Pen from its current recipient, you must wait until the book has reset to begin writing.
2. You may write as much as you wish, as frequently as you wish, but only for a combined total of 77 times. You must write in the book once every fifteen years, no matter how often you choose to write otherwise. Once you reach 72 uses the Pen will be inactive so that every fifteen years for the next 35 years.
3. You may write down events as they happen during or after, which will not alter those events. You cannot erase or alter anything you write down. Whatever happens in your life that you choose not to record, the Pen will automatically record for you. Misspellings, poor grammar, or illegible handwriting will not have any lasting effects on the outcome.
4. You may not kill anyone, bring someone back from the dead, wish anyone into existence, or erase anyone from existence. You may, however, cause chains of events that will lead to the producing, but not the disposing, of a person.
5. The events and happenings in your life can indeed directly affect the events and happenings in the lives of others.
6. You may not wish to go forward or backward in time, as this would directly violate rule #3.
7. You must be very careful with the Pen. If it is lost, you forfeit your time to use it, and the right moves on to whoever may find it next. The destruction of the book or the Pen will not undo everything written, but, obviously, you will no longer be able to alter your life with it. It is recommended you sign the Life Contract to prevent to loss of the pen.
8. The end of your story will come at the end of your life. You may choose to write out this ending, but no particular date or cause of death may be given. The ending of human life is something beyond the control of the powers of the Pen. If you write impossible things, they simply won’t happen.
9. When you are nearing the end of the story, you may choose to give the Pen to someone in particular, or you can just leave it for the next person to find. It is recommended that you be generous and be sure to share this gift with others.
10. Finally, the Pen, while extremely powerful and valuable, is flawed and finite. At some point, it may stop working. It is possible not everything you write will come true. The Pen can only bring about occurrences that could actually be possible; it can create nothing out of thin air. You may, at any time, choose to dispose of the Pen to someone else, unless you sign a Life Contract, which will bind the Pen to you until your death unless destroyed.
This is the story of Malcolm O’Rourke, and the girl who finished his story.
Malcolm O’Rourke lived all alone in a big house on the edge of a town in Iowa called Hay Penny. He was 71, and was living a most unextraordinary life, especially compared to the life he’d lived before he came to Iowa. He’d originally lived in California. It’s a long story. In fact, it’s the entire story of Malcolm O’Rourke’s life. This is that story. Well…this is actually a very small portion of that story. Just a few chapters. The most important ones.
Anyway, it was one morning, a Tuesday morning in May. The weather was cool and wet. It had been raining all night and was drizzling still when the alarm clock went off at 8 a. m. Mal hauled himself wearily out of bed and staggered downstairs in a desperate search for the coffee pot.
However, when he got to the kitchen, and after he’d drained the pot of coffee and was refilling it, as his mind and eyes woke from their groggy post-slumber state, he saw it.
There, sitting innocently on the table.
He took a few startled step backwards, bumped into the counter, and clung to the edge to keep from falling over.
“No…” he murmured desperately.
It was a pen. A very nice pen; black with golden accents. He was too far away to see it at the time, but he knew well what was written on the side of the pen: The Story of Your Life.
“No,” he said again, trying to convince himself he wasn’t see it.
But he was.
“I can’t!” he insisted, turning away from the book and staring intently at the coffee pot. “I know, I know…it’s been fifteen years. But please…can’t there be exceptions? For the first time I’m happy!” He whirled around and stared at the pen, his eyes wide. “Happy, you hear me!? I’ve got a house, and a cat, and…and…Genie. Don’t do this to me. You know every time I write something down, things just get worse!”
It was than he noticed the note sitting beside the pen. Cautiously, he went, picked it up, and read it.
Time to look back. Time to learn. Time to write the ending.
He threw the note, but it just fluttered to the floor and landed at his feet.
“I can’t,” he moaned.
So he did. He sat down at the table, his coffee mug trembling a little in his hand, and he did. He picked up the pen, and clicked it open.
Immediately, the book appeared on the table in front of him. It was a thick, worn, red, leather-bound book. The title, printed in fancy gold script, read, Malcolm O’Rourke.
He opened up the book. The first page. And he read.
February 19th, 1940, I, Malcolm Nathanial O’Rourke, was born.
The story of his life. He read slowly, hands shaking, feeling anxious and filled with regret. The first few chapters were fine…they were actually filled with a few very sweet, early childhood memories.
But he knew what was coming.
He’d been nineteen when this book and this pen first came into his life.
He remembered the little old man handing it to him, graveness written on his face and in his voice. It was written right here in the book. “Take this. It is powerful. Be careful. Use it wisely.”
Once he’d opened the book, discovered what it was, all care and wisdom flew from his head and his heart.
The power to write your story. Start to finished. Details, wishes, dreams, all can come true for you.
He’d jumped at the chance. Dug right in. He didn’t even stop to think as he twisted the pen open, and began to write every stupid, foolish whim his young mind could conjure up.
Sophia Arlin will break her engagement to Henry Boxford and marry me instead.
And that was only the first selfish wish he’d made, wishes that deeply hurt other people and completely altered the course of their lives. He didn’t even care. He was too busy thinking of himself. Of the life…the perfect, dream life he was going to live.
Two perfect kids. A boy and a girl. We’ll be the perfect American family.
Money! Money, money, money, and lots of it. I’ll be rich.
Fame. I want to be famous.
Five…no, twelve cars, all shiny and expensive! And a boat…a big one!
Stupid, selfish, heedless dreams.
And all of them had come true.
Along with the normal things in life not even the powerful book and pen could change.
Like losing good friends and family members to foolishness, misunderstanding, betrayal…and death.
Foreclosures and theft and unforgivable mistakes.
An ugly affair and divorce, and a family ripped apart.
A second chance, taken but squandered.
A horrific accident that took Cara, Joyce and Gregory from him in one blow.
So many things, and Mal had to revisit every single one. He hardly read anything. He just remembered, the details, the pain, the lies and regret all rushing back at him like a high tide.
Soon, Mal had his head in his hands, weeping.
“I can’t do this. I can’t. I couldn’t do it before, and I can’t do it now. How do you end a story you regret? How?”
Maybe you don’t. Maybe you can’t.
He opened his eyes, thinking hard, desperate to find a solution.
And he did.