He found the typewriter on the beach. He wasn’t sure at first what he’d come across. It looked like a black rectangle, half buried in the dirty yellow sand, a corner pointing up to the sky. He was more then use to finding rubbish on the beach, the tourists and the local kids had no respect. As was his habit, he tapped the strange object first with his walking stick. It gave off a dull hollow metal sound. Then he inspected it from every angle possible, trying to see if he could figure out what it was. It did look sort of familiar, though he couldn’t be sure about it.
Putting his walking stick under his arm, he pulled his leather satchel over and from inside dug out a small gardening trowel. He always carried it and a few other things when he took his walks. He dug around the object carefully, piling the sand off to the sides. As soon as he was sure about it, he pulled the object out. It was a lot heavier then he’d anticipated.
Standing in the glare of the dying day, he knew what the object was right away. It was an old typewriter from the fifties, maybe. The ink ribbon and some keys missing, there was rust on the edges and sand had gotten in ever where. Still though, it didn’t look to be that bad. It reminded him very much of the typewriter in his father’s study, which he’d inherited, aged eighteen. He’d written his first novel on that machine.
With a gentle shrug, he went to set the typewriter down again. A sudden idea came to him just before he let go. Wouldn’t it look nice on the little table in the hallway with some old leather books on either side? He straightened and studied the typewriter carefully. It would need emptying of sand, cleaning and polishing up. Of course, it’d never work again, but as an ornament it would do. It had to be one of the more interested pieces he’d found up till now and it certainly would fit in with the rest of the fisherman’s cottage décor.
He put it back down gently, but only for a moment. He picked up the trowel and put that back in his bag. Collecting the typewriter again, he tipped it about in an attempted to get as much sand out as possible. He watched the yellow grains falling in curtain like lines back onto on the beach where they belonged. Hefting the metal machine up, he walked back along the beach.
The tide was coming in and the waves were growing larger. Some gulls called from the cliff tops and there was a breeze whistling through the small cave to his right. Across the sand was a scattering of shells, seaweed and rubbish. Occasionally, there was a small dead crab or jelly fish, a piece of drift wood or something unidentifiable. The air was damp, salty and gritty.
The beach was long and curved into a crest moon shape. He never walked that far and so soon reached the flight of stone steps that cut its way up the side of a cliff. The handrail was rusted to almost nothing and it was too dangerous to use. The steps were worn smooth, though they did dip slightly down in the middle. Walking up them, he could hear the wind and sea getting louder. Seems like the weather forecast was right, there might be a storm tonight, he thought as he reached the top.
A pathway splitting off either side was marked out in compacted sand. He went to the bench to his right and placed the typewriter down. It seemed to have got heavier during the climb and there was a growing ache in his arms. Not that he was unfit, he was fitter them most of his generation, all that walking, hiking, sailing and swimming had seen to that. It just seemed that the typewriter was heavier than it should have been. Maybe it was all that sand?
He sat down next to it for a few minutes and watched the sea swarming the beach below. The tide was coming in a lot faster than it should have been. If he was still on the beach now he might have had to wade his way back. The writer in him wondered if the sea’s sudden surge was because he’d taken the typewriter. What if the sea had been eyeing up the machine all day and now it had had a victory of burying it or carrying it away snatched out from under it?
He shook his head and chuckled. Why would he think that? The sea didn’t care. And anyway the typewriter could have been sat on the beach for a few days, months or years. The sea had had its chance.
He touched the cold, damp keys and watched his fingers splaying across them as if to try to type. He shook his head again and picking up the typewriter shook some more sand out of it. Picking it back up firmly, he trudged under a darkening grey sky along the left path which winded through the cliff tops and into a patch of scrubland. As the sand became grass and the path dropped down, he arrived in a narrow lane at the bottom of which was a white cottage.
He approached the door and set the typewriter down on the step. He always turned the outside light on before he left. It severed as a beacon, much like the lighthouse on the other side of the cliffs did. He dug in his satchel for the keys and on finding them unlocked the door. The hall light was also on.
He took off his sand covered boots and placed them just inside. Then he picked up the typewriter and took it into the kitchen. He came back and closed the door. He put down his walking stick, satchel and coat. Making sure they were in their correct places before leaving them. He decide to firstly make a cup of tea and get the fire going in the parlour, which he’d turned into a study. Afterwards, he would inspect the typewriter.
Heading into the kitchen, he could hear something banging. Turning the light on, he saw that the small window above the sink had come unlatched again and the wind was causing it to bang against the fame. Tutting, he fixed it as best he could and then turned on the kettle. His mug and a tea bag where already there on the counter. To waste time, he checked the back door was locked, got the milk out of the fridge and the sugar out of the cupboard. He ponder having a light bite, but then decided he wasn’t that hungry.
The kettle clicked as it boiled and he made his tea. He then went into the parlour and leaving the mug on his desk, set about lighting the pre-set up fire. It took him a good few tries to get the flames started, but once the fire had got going, it filled the room with a warm, soft glow.
He turned on his desk lamp and sitting down, stared at the typewriter as he drank. It was interesting that the typewriter was sat next to his computer. The old technology with the new as it were. He could recall his first time on a computer, it had been the early nineties at the old library and he’d been researching something for his latest novel. He’d slowly moved on from his pens and typewriters, to the computer and when he found himself spending most of the day using one in the new library, he figured it was time to get one.
Finishing his tea, he decided that he should have taken the typewriter into the kitchen. There was a small pile of sand growing on the desk. Picking the machine up, he carried it to the kitchen table and then was a clean cloth, he went back into the study and cleaned up the sand trail.
With some more cleaning tools, he took the typewriter a part as much as possible and begin to clean it. He was careful and methodical about his task, though the typewriter would never work again he felt the need to treat it with respect.
As he worked, his thoughts turned to wondering about the typewriter and the more creative side of his brain took over. How had the typewriter gotten onto the beach? Who had it belong too and what had it been used to write?
If only you could talk, he thought.
There were probably simple answers to his questions. Someone had been cleaning out their attic and found the typewriter. Maybe it had been theirs’ as a youth or maybe it had belong to a relative. They had given it to someone; their child, a friend, a stranger at the market. Or maybe they had kept it? Whoever it was then had abandoned the typewriter on the beach and left it to the elements and time. They had seen it as junk to be discarded and nothing more.
Breaking his concentration, he became aware of the raging storm outside. The wind was whipping the rain against the windows. Waves were crashing heavily onto the beach and darkness had swallowed the cottage. It was also cold. He hadn’t realised how chilled he had become. Getting up, he left the kitchen and turned the light out. He went into the study, but the fire had died. Grumping to himself, he prepared for bed. He made another cup of tea and a hot water bottle. He checked everything was locked and that the outside lights were still on. He went up the creaking stairs and into the first room. He turned on the light and went to the small double bed. There he put down the hot water bottle and the cup on the nightstand. The curtains were drawn across the small window.
He went over and peered outside. He couldn’t see anything. Some nights though, he could make out the light dot of the lighthouse. That always give him a little comfort. Tonight, however, he felt utterly alone, like he was the last human on earth.
Trying to clear his head of that thought, he got out of his clothes and put on some loose, stripped PJs. Getting into the bed, he heard the familiar creaking of the springs. He had long concluded that the bed was the original. Or at least someone had gone out of their way to make sure it seemed that way. It was a typical Victorian, fisherman’s cottage bed. All wooden, with stubby bed poles at all corners, no canopy or curtains. A spring and horse hair mattress and hard wood head board.
He finished his tea and settled down to sleep. He left the bed stand lamp on as was his custom. His thoughts swilled from the bed, to the typewriter, to his youth, to the beach. He left them wash over him and when he felt the calling of sleep, he let it claim him.