Amy, PR Director of the Citrus Writers of Florida

The day my pen ran out of ink

I was 19 years old living in a one stop light town in east central Alabama. I had moved there nearly 3 years prior with my first love, Deke. We had moved there from Colorado looking for a new life and to escape some trouble we had found ourselves in. We had been living together since I was 15 years old, and he was 19. I was early in my pregnancy with our first daughter. I worked in the local Kmart Garden Center, and he was working as an electrician apprentice. 

We had our whole lives before us, but we were both struggling to overcome the trauma we endured being raised in poverty by single mothers who never unpacked their own baggage. I used poetry as an outlet for my pain, while he buried his pain in street drugs and alcohol. 

My trapper keeper of poems detailed the difficulties of walking through the aftermath of childhood trauma and the current episodes of domestic violence that were getting hard to hide and ignore. My trapper keeper held all my darkest secrets but also all my hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow. 

I had started writing poetry when I was 13 and I must have written over 300 poems, as my prized trapper keeper was nearly bursting at the seams. Thinking back to today, that trapper keeper was my best friend. It was always there when I needed it, it always embraced me with open blank pages, and once they were filled with my heartache and joy there was no judgement, no biased opinions, I would simply close the flap and put her away until I needed her again. 

The day I stopped writing I had gotten off work at 5. My stepmom, Liz, picked me up from work, as I was a very timid girl unsure of myself and too scared to drive yet. On the way home she told me that Deke had gotten off work early and him and my dad had been drinking. I instantly got a knot in the pit of my stomach but did not say a thing. When we got back to my dad’s house we were greeted by two drunk men. My dad overly happy and obnoxious reeking of George Dickel and Deke very solemn and aggravated and obviously wasted. He had had a rough day at work and was drinking to let off some steam. 

It was there, the look in his eyes that I had seen all too often. After sharing supper with my dad and Liz, Deke and I headed to our own trailer that was set up on the back end of my dad’s 2-acre lot. I cannot recall what flipped his switch that night, but the moment I saw the look in his eye earlier that day I knew an argument was inevitable. The cursing, the threatening, the belittling, all came to me full force. It was bad, I tried to de-escalate the situation, tried to ignore him but he would not stop. I ran next door and Liz, and my dad were already awake, as they heard the turmoil I had just fled. My dad apologized for drinking with him, and Liz wrapped me in a big hug. 

Then the next phase of his drunken rage started to play out with the banging of the door. He was screaming, “let her out.” “Amy gets out here now.” We tried to ignore it, but he was persistent. I did not go out. We just screamed back, “Go home and sleep it off Deke.” He carried on for what seemed like forever, but it was no more than 20 minutes. Then he got quiet, we thought the storm had passed, but we were mistaken. 

There was a burn pit in the yard between the two trailers and soon we saw a flashlight heading towards it and soon a fire was lit. Liz and I watched from the window trying to figure out what he was doing as he walked back to our trailer. When he appeared again, he was carrying something and as he got closer to the flames, I could see it was my trapper keeper. He screamed out, “Amy you better get out here or I will burn them all.” I wanted to run out there and save her, but I was too scared. Even if I could have found the courage to face him and save her Liz would have never let me walk out that door. 

He started tearing out the page’s poem by poem. Sometimes reading the title and sometimes reading a line or two before throwing them in the fire. After each poem he destroyed we would taunt me to come outside, or the next one would go. He would mock the love I put into them and make fun of the tragedies I discussed. I sat inside my dad and Liz’s trailer while he burned page by page of my most prized possession. I wept and wept, and Liz sat with me saying, “It’s going to be okay baby you can write more poems; you have to stay safe.” He finally just threw the whole trapper keeper in the fire before heading in to get some of my favorite clothes which also got placed in the fire that night. 

He finally stopped and went to bed. I cried myself to sleep on my dad’s couch. The next morning after Deke had left for work and I walked out into the yard and headed to the fire pit. There she was in a pile of ashes, nothing salvageable, my best friend was gone forever along with 6 years of my hopes and dreams. I reached down and let the pages flow through my hand one more time, now as the ashes they had become. 

I stayed in the relationship another 8 years, it never got better, and I didn’t pick up a pen again for over a decade. I guess I needed to mourn the loss of my dearest friend that I watched being destroyed page by page. 

The last 27 years I have been slowly refilling my ink well, occasionally letting it overflow onto the pages of stories and poems I have written for my daughters, speeches to bring awareness to the realities of domestic violence and childhood trauma, in my course work as I put myself through college, and now into the pages of the community paper I was so blessed to be entrusted with from the powers that be. 

It’s crazy how life can take you full circle. I never really thought in depth about why I quit writing and I often struggled with my confidence to write so freely as I had done before. Recently on March 13, 2024, I met one of the newest members of the Citrus Writers of Florida, Rebecca during our monthly meeting. She shared with me a little about her writing journey, and a hardship she faced that once took the ink out of her pen. In that instant tears came to my eyes and I remembered my long-lost best friend, my old trapper keeper. I remembered that night when I was shamed for my passion and the words in my heart. 

As I write this short story to share with you, I remind myself that I am not the same timid girl scared of the world and people around her. They say Diamonds have the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any natural material and as a result there are only a few types of impurities that can contaminate them. Today I am the diamond that emerged from the ashes of that fire, and the fires that came after. I am proud to say that while the flames of life have hardened me to the core, there are few impurities in this life that can contaminate in pure heart, and for that I am grateful. 

If you or a loved one find yourself in the clutches of domestic violence, there is hope and help available. When I finally found the courage to leave, it was the communities I lived in that supported me and helped me find my way out. I have provided a resource for the local domestic violence shelter below. I promise you are worthy of love, kindness, compassion, empathy, and everything else good this world has to offer. Give it to yourself, because you won’t find it in the hands of your abuser, I can promise you that. 

Citrus County- CASA-24 Hour Hotline (352) 344-8111 and their website is CASA – Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence Services (

Hernando County- Dawn Center-24-Hour Crisis Hotline 352-686-8430 and their website is Sexual Assault and Rape Services | Dawn Center of Hernando County FL

Pasco County-Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc. Domestic & Sexual Violence Center 24-Hour Hotline: 352.521.3120 and their website is Domestic & Sexual Violence Center | Sunrise of Pasco County (

Sumter County-Haven of Lake & Sumter Counties, Inc 24/7 Toll-Free Helpline (TTY): (352)753-5800 and their website is Haven of Lake & Sumter Counties, Inc. (

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