The young man looked astounded. Then he frowned very severely, and asked ‘Sorry, how does one run out of HB pencils? I mean, how does a stationery store run out?’ The employee shrugged, ‘I suppose our stock –’ ‘They’re the most important kind!’ he yelled. ‘Well, we have H grade, F grade –’ ‘No, you don’t understand. HB is balanced. HB is the middle of the spectrum – not too hard, not too soft. It produces the best writing!’ he cried. ‘I’m sorry, young man,’ the employee said, and walked off to help another customer. The young man left the store. Would he even go to the appointment now? It was such a large commitment. It was so important. He needed the support of an HB. He ran his fingers through his hair and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he found himself standing outside the place of his appointment. He could not understand how he got there so soon. Perhaps he should go in, while he was there. He walked up the steps and into the foyer. Then he walked up a flight of stairs, turned left, and walked down the corridor. There, he stopped. Well, there was the door: Room 2B. He took a deep breath. He reached out, and tried the handle. It was locked. Locked? But how? He checked his watch. ‘But it’s only eight...’ he began, but he remembered: his watch had stopped working. He had missed it. He ran his fingers through his hair, then dropped them to his side, defeated. ‘Good morning, young man,’ said a voice from behind him. He turned, and saw a man wearing a nice suit looking at him with a smile. ‘You’re early for the appointment; it’s just gone eight-thirty-four. But, no harm in beginning twenty minutes early.’ He turned and unlocked the door, then indicated the number. ‘I know – Room 2B. Reminds you of Hamlet doesn’t it?’ he asked enthusiastically. ‘Who?’ the young man asked. This was all quite bewildering. The man frowned briefly, and then shrugged. 42
Hearsay: On Dit's creative writing edition.