Thursday, 10 April 2014
The Man with the Typewriter
There was something in the way she had looked at him as she passed. Like he was a beautiful honeycomb, wondrous but untouchable. Turning, he knew she’d be gone by now, and she was: just the empty path dotted with leaves and shadows and the past. Jeff brought his feet together and raised and lowered his heels in the arriving evening chill. How long had he been sitting there, mulling over someone else’s words, another’s life? Too long.
He looked up towards the sky through the trees, growing violet as the late summer’s day eased into night. What would he do with his evening? What could he do, except contemplate what she had written, what she had offered?
A faint shadow landed on him and didn’t move. Jeff looked forward, unstartled to see the woman from before standing there, like it was the only place in the world she should be.
“Jeff Miller?” The most silent of whispers.
“I thought it was you. I read your books. I know they are banned and all, but my father gave them to me and I –” She glanced both ways at the empty path – “hide them under the floorboards. I think they are wonderful. I wasn’t sure you actually existed, if you were alive. Still.” She added the last word and made it sound like the miracle it was.
“What is your name?” Jeff asked, and patted the bench beside him, offering her a seat, giving himself the chance of a real conversation.
She shook her head. “I can’t. I am on my way to work. I remembered your face from a poster when I was a girl. I am so pleased to have met you and been able to thank you for your work. But I must go. I mustn’t be late.”
“Stay safe,” he offered, as she turned on her heels and made her way back into the past.
For the past was ever present: in the letter he’d read that morning, his books, this woman who actually still read. He breathed in and out purposefully, remembering things from the day, trying to anchor himself to something other than his thoughts.
Before the sirens sounded to return home, he got up and left the park. The streets were almost empty and he preferred them this way now. For he didn’t trust people, they were different, abiding and numb.
Back in his room, in the basement, he lit candles and settled into a chair. On his lap, his old, trusted typewriter. At his side, a stale glass of water. He would save it until later, but it was always better to use the taps before dark. He couldn’t remember why.
I will come, he typed slowly, methodically. I don’t know how yet, but I cannot exist in this world. I should have left with you, but I thought, naively, foolishly, that what I was doing, my words, they could push back the tidal wave. Now I am resigned to this tiny room, obscurity and the generous turning of the cheek of my landlord. Today I met someone who could read and not only that, read my books. Darling, it wasn’t enough, for we couldn’t talk. All those words and all I can do now is say it was for nothing. I am now an imposter in this life, an extra piece of the puzzle, canned laughter, an autocue, a fake. It is heart-breaking. I must leave, and finally - A tear dropped in between the keys. I will see you again. My always love and bitter regret, Jeff.
His fingers hovered. There was always more, but it would have to wait until the words could be spoken. He laid the typewriter on the floor next to his feet and leant back, linking his fingers across his belly and closing his eyes. His world hadn’t been what it should have been for a long time and he sighed.
Tomorrow he would call on the postman. He smiled: they didn’t believe in real post. Paper was limited and not many could read, let alone write. He may have been a dreamer, a young fool, but now he had more weapons than all of them out there. Words. He was ready to plan his escape.
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Wednesday, 9 April 2014
Hoorah! I have time this week for some writing, so I'm back over at Julia's Place and her 100-word challenge for grown ups. She's feeling all theatrical with her prompt this week, so we're to use these famous words from Hamlet: Alas poor Yorick. As usual it's 100 words only and please feel free to comment or constructively criticise below and then read others by clicking on the icon at the bottom. Here's my offering.
In the space between your heartbeats I nestled, conjuring something from the little we shared. Stars shifted namelessly above and while we waited for the end, I imagined seeing you again in that infinite sky. Was it years or days or just minutes we knew each other and loved and fought and laughed and cried? Yorick, you were every man I ever loved, everyone I wanted to be and yet, alas, poor Yorick, you faded to nothing on that cliff. I left you there after your last breath to turn into dust and a quote on the never-ending, pointless wind.
In The End
Wednesday, 2 April 2014
For the last seven months I have had the pleasure of helping edit over at Trifecta Writing Challenge. But all good things come to an end and Trifecta is closing its doors this week. Before joining the team, I spent the summer, after moving to Luxembourg, taking part in its wacky and wonderful writing challenges. I loved its freshness and the real competition. They are many great writers walking its halls. As it ends I feel only glad to have been a small part of it and having had the experience of getting to read and know some very cool people. It was a sweet, sweet journey. These people; we have never met, and probably never will. And yet I will keep reading them because this world now, as it is, allows us. So no goodbyes, just more hellos. Keep spinning. Keep writing.
Parting we cannot,
We are already apart
Like the sun and moon.