I’ve always wanted a typewriter, mostly just for the feeling of physically hammering letters onto the page–but also for the concept of getting away from the computer to write. And not only to write, but to write words that cannot be unwritten.
A typewriter is, in essence, the ultimate first draft. It’s what every writer participating in National Novel Writing Month strives for: to simply write words as they come, without the ability to go back and edit them. One must continue moving forward with a typewriter. There is no backspace button (actually, mine has a white-out strip, but it doesn’t really work).
So, a dear friend of mine hunted down a classic-style typewriter, made all the necessary repairs, and gave it to me as a gift. The cool thing about this particular typewriter is that it actually prints in cursive, instead of the traditional Courier.
When I posted pictures of the new find, a friend asked for a typed-up letter. WELL. A letter? Hmm. Too novice for me. Instead, I crafted a little short story starring my recipient, and typed it up on the typewriter. Voila!
Here’s how the story goes:
The Day Heidi Met Bigfoot
There once was a little girl named Heidi.
Heidi loved the outdoors: the way the autumn trees looked in the late afternoon, cast in gold like her mother’s favorite jewelry; the smell of earth and the occasional tittering bird call.
But what she didn’t love about the outdoors was the unknown—the things that could be lurking in dark burrows, in knots in tree trunks, in branches high overhead. Little did she know it was just such a thing she would find when she went outdoors to explore one cool October day.
Ignoring the ominous charcoal clouds gathering on the horizon, Heidi put on her coat, mittens and boots, and slipped outside. A bitter breeze nipped her cheeks, turning them pink. Ahead waited the woods—great, old trees with low-hanging boughs a little girl like Heidi could use to climb up high, or to hop from tree to tree without her feet ever touching the ground.
Today as she hop-skipped into the warm, dark woods, she didn’t see the crouched, furry shadow waiting in the cover of a holly bush. It followed her as she stopped to collect pine cones, funny rocks, and a handful of particularly persistent white flowers.
Then Heidi saw it: just a flash of brown fur between two tree trunks. She shrieked. A bear! A wolf! Some creature that would surely floss its teeth with her bones.
Before she could run, the thing emerged. Tall as a man, if not taller; built as thick and strong as a gorilla; and covered from head to toe with silk-smooth copper fur. Heidi stood, dumbfounded, as the monster approached her, one hand held out as a peace offering.
“Hello,” said the sasquatch, kneeling a few feet away so their eyes could meet.
Heidi’s own hello caught in her throat.
“Don’t be afraid,” continued the beast. Its face—so human and yet, so animal—made an expression she could only describe as a smile. “I won’t hurt you.”
But Heidi’s fear had already caught up with her, and with a scream she turned and ran. Leaving the woods behind, she raced across her yard, tore through the front door and stood in the middle of her living room, panting.
Brushing her hair out of her face, Heidi removed her muddy boots. Man, her mom would be mad for tracking in all that dirt, but she couldn’t help it.
Bigfoot. She had seen it! She had seen Bigfoot! A hysterical laugh bubbled up inside her. She had seen Bigfoot—and he had said hello to her!
Heidi removed her mittens. Next time, she thought. Next time she wouldn’t run away.
Next time, she’d say “Hello” too.
Well, not only was this project pretty fun for me to put together, but it was also great practice. I took a seminar with Eric Witchey a while ago, and he is always telling us to write stories as often a we can–once a day, if one could manage to do it. That the more stories you try to tell, the more fluently you can speak in story.
So I offered my little short stories to other people, and I got another bite.
Amber and the White Cat
There once was a little girl named Amber.
But Amber wasn’t just any little girl. Amber was special. Though she looked and acted and smelled like any other kid in the third grade, she knew that she wasn’t.
She knew that when the sun set and the moon rose, her skin tingled like it was alive; like it had a mind of its own. Her hair turned from the deepest onyx to the brightest snow-white, as if she had been dunked in a tub of bleach. Her eyes glistened, gold and brilliant, like the moon itself resided inside them.
One couldn’t quite call her beautiful in this state, because she looked too strange, too ethereal to really be “beautiful”; but she was exquisitely unusual and so she took to hiding in her room at night.
Her grandmother would knock on her bedroom door from time to time, when these moonlit evenings came. “Amber,” she said through the door, this particular evening, “won’t you come out? Won’t you watch Jeopardy with your grandpa and I?”
But even Amber’s voice was strange when night fell, pure and high and rich as a silver bell. So she did not answer.
When her grandmother left, Amber went to her bedroom window. She gazed at the moon. Why did the moon do this to her when night fell? What had she ever done to the sky to deserve this transformation? She could never sleep at a friend’s house, or they would surely scream in terror when they saw her change.
Outside, she heard a meow. Slowly Amber opened the window. A blurry white shape raced past her so fast, she thought it was a tiny bolt of lightning.
A cat. A pure white cat, with golden eyes, planted itself in the middle of her bedroom floor. It stared at her, unblinking, and Amber couldn’t help but stare back.
“Are you lost?” asked Amber, kneeling to pet it. The cat leaned into her hand, closing those peculiar eyes. Those strangely familiar eyes. It looked too clean to be stray, but it had no collar.
“What’s your name?” she tried again. No reply, of course. It was only a cat, after all. But when Amber sat on the floor and crossed her legs, the cat climbed onto her lap and within moments, it was asleep.
Amber looked in the mirror hanging on the opposite wall. They appeared to her so similar, the cat and the girl, with hair as white as milk, so white it almost glittered. The cat snoozed softly. She felt herself smiling, and brushed the cat’s soft fur.
Perhaps being alone didn’t have to be lonely, after all.
There are surely more stories to come. Stay tuned.