The blue typewriter was always there, of that she was certain.
As she stared at the empty desk with the dust outline, she cursed under her breath. She should have taken it with her.
When her mother had called to say the place had been robbed, she didn’t think they would take the clunky beast of a machine. It was in one place for years for a reason. When she had moved away years ago, she deliberated taking it and eventually passed. There wasn’t a whole lot of room in her apartment and she had her tablet, after all.
The typewriter had been clunky, the carriage heavy and noisy. It had done a good job of masking the growls and yells in the night, the bickering back and forth, the sound of the world she knew crumbling around her.
The keys would get stuck and tick tacked along the keytop, the levers stamping heavy on the thick paper. If her father bought the wrong paper-and he often had-it smeared and bled, the ink soaking into her fingers, the words she dreamed of lost in the rivulets of black. The ink masked the blood, though.
And when the nights were quiet, when she could focus, her eyes straining by the dimming light of an old lamp, she had lost herself in the serif letters, dreaming of worlds far away from her own. There were princesses in deserts, scoundrels in sailing ships, liars and cheats who found love in those that looked past their paper mache masks. She typed slow but with purpose, stacking the pages as the night hours died away.
When the ribbons of morning light were starting to creep in with the fog, she had let out a heavy sigh and placed the papers on top of another stack in a box under her bed. Sleep, while evaded most nights, hit her hard, her shoulders slumping as she dragged her mound of atoms under the covers. Two hours would be enough.
She had taken the boxes of papers upon the move.
She sifted through them, tossing away the ones that had resulted in a physical twitch, keeping the ones where she smiled and reflected on the events occurring outside her bedroom door. The toughest fights–the ones with fists and screams and slamming doors–made the strongest stories. She held those close to her chest, as if hugging them would absorb them into her skin. The fights had ended with a final slam and squeal of tires.
She began to sleep more, see the sun more, smile more. There were still stories to be told but there was more time. The stacks had decreased considerably. A light covering of dust faded the bright robin’s egg blue to a stormy sky in summer.
When it was time to move forward, move onward, she made her mother promise it would stay. While the other key components in her room slowly disappeared, the small oak desk with the clunky typewriter lay half-forgotten, a beast in the kingdom of a lost girl’s memory and new gym equipment.
Seeing the ghost of it now, nothing but a ring of gray ash, she thought back to those princesses and scoundrels, the masks that she used to block away the world. Her fingertips reached out to touch the ring. She swiped away a break in them, a gaping door in a sacred circle.
Her mother came in then. Soft hands fell on her shoulders. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
She nodded, her hand covering her mother’s. Her other hand, carrying a hardcover book, reached out and placed it within the broken ring. It was nothing special, a plain cover without exquisite lettering, but the letters spelled out her name on the bottom, a sticker with a “#1” floating high above it. She smiled, the rectangle oddly fitting in.
It would be alright. Perhaps the beast would make its way to someone else’s home, where the keys could tick tack and the levers could flip and the platen spool would ride back and forth creating other worlds. Perhaps it would be taken apart, the pieces of metal making their way to different people, the essence of their stories still lingering in the circles of consonants and vowels. Perhaps it would lie in the corner of a shop, waiting to be picked by another lost soul, preparing to be the vessel of the dreams they would create in the night.