I happened to do a bit of Internet-questing and found a list of crazy, wacky holidays. We all know about Black Month, Women’s History Month and Arbor Day, but what about National Zucchini Bread Day, Kindergarten Day and….Garlic Day? These holidays are the best because there’s something for everyone.
Today, April 27th, is “Tell a Story Day”. As an author, this is right up my alley. And so, I shall tell a story. It’s a short one, and it has been seen before, but there’s no story like an old story, I always say.
Grandma Elsie’s Typewriter
It was hidden in the back corner of the storage facility, one of those “dollar for the first month and we’ll rip you off thereafter” places where she had stored Grandmother’s furniture after they’d sold the house. There weren’t many of her things left and they were taking this time to clear out the last of the items. It was time to make final decisions, to sort through the stuff they were donating, selling to the antique dealer or simply throwing away.
The heavy cardboard box was water-damaged and John supported the bottom as he lifted it onto the table. He wiped his hands on the faded blue of his jeans, leaving dark streaks of dust on his outer thighs.
“I think it’s your grandmother’s old typewriter.”
Katie pulled the flaps of the box open and exhaled in surprise. “It is! I wondered where it had gone to when we didn’t find it in the house.” She flashed him an excited smile. “It’s the one that she typed her novels on. I remember from the times I stayed there in the summer. She loved this typewriter.”
John stuck his hands into the dirty, water-damaged box and pulled out the old machine. He placed it on the table where it settled with a few rusty clicks. Most of the keys were rubbed off, the letters illegible. The lesser used keys like the Q and the W were more prominent than the others.
Katie smiled. “Clean it up a bit and it’ll be in great condition.”
“Most of the keys are worn off.” He gave the machine a closer look. The keys he pressed were rusted and scraped against each other.
“Haven’t you memorized the keyboard? Besides, I’m not going to use it. I want it in the office.”
John blew out his breath in the hot enclosure, looked at the concrete ceiling. His Katie was a collector. A discerning one, but a collector just the same. “You’ve got a lot of stuff in the office already.”
“But Jonny-boy…” Her tone was wheedling. “It belonged to my grandmother. Besides, it’ll make a nice conversation piece.” She held up her dirty hands at chest level, pressing the palms together in a pleading gesture. “Please?”
The combination of the dirty hands and the charming look on her face changed his mind. They had spent a lot of time at the beach this summer and her normally honeyed complexion had darkened to a rich shade of coffee. French Roast, he called her, loving the new color that made her dark brown eyes more luminous.
He shrugged, envisioning hours in the garage cleaning the rust off the keys, oiling the mechanism so that while it might not work, it would look like it could.
After a few weeks, hard work and about a gallon of WD-40, Katie placed the refurbished typewriter in the corner of her study, sat back and studied it. The machine gleamed in the afternoon light, casting a glow on the polished wood table where it sat. Katie could almost see Grandma Elsie hunched over the keys, a cigarette burning in the ashtray and a cup of tea laced with brandy at her elbow.
Late one night, she was typing away on her laptop when she heard the tap, tap of the typewriter’s keys behind her. Thinking John had snuck in and was playing a trick on her, she turned around, a half smile on her face to scold him for disturbing her writing time.
No one was there.
Katie shook her head and turned back to her computer, tried to get back in the scene she was writing. She had picked up her pace again when the tap, tap, tap of the typewriter made her whip her head around.
“Grandma?” The word slipped out before she could stop it.
Katie stared at the now-quiet typewriter. Her heart pounded in her chest, a throbbing that she felt in her neck and wrists. She drew in a deep breath. Being afraid didn’t enter her mind. Summers with her grandmother were full of things that were not explainable. Mysterious events were dismissed by a casual wave of the hand so often that abnormal became normal.
She smoothed her hands over her skirt, the cotton cool under her hands, and then reached over to her printer tray for a piece of paper. Though the office was warm due to the open window, her arms were ridged with goose bumps. The chair creaked when she got up and walked over to the typewriter. She rolled the white paper against the rubber roller and adjusted it. She went back to her laptop and sat down, her back to the typewriter once again.
When the tapping began again, she didn’t turn around. She forced herself to keep her breathing measured so as not to startle the typist.
She sat motionless for about five minutes after the tapping stopped. When she was sure it was done, she got up to retrieve the paper.
Six feet under wasn’t deep enough.
For more free stories from me and other talented authors, check out Shades of the Muse a free story archive for all types of stories. And if you’re a fledgling writer, please feel free to post a story or stories of your own!