The Letter

If this typewriter can’t do it, then fuck it, it can’t be done.*

Clack, Clack, TWANG it goes.

My father’s fingers glide gently, incongruous against the grinding mechanics below their touch.

The paper slowly chunk, chunk, chunking its way toward revelation. The effort feels almost too much.

I am uncomfortably aware of the iPhone in my pocket. I silence the buzzing reminders of sheer mass thought production I somehow need to pay attention to.

Lines are forming, slowly, wet with new ink. They dry deliberately, as if the musty office air savors each letter’s emergence.

The books piled from floor to ceiling appear to lean in, cramping the tiny room, straining to read what has taken so long to produce.

Books filled with the great lines, the Call Me Ishmaels, the It Was The Best of Times, all yearning to finally see something of the man they had guarded, sentinels of the shelves, all these years.

I try not to fidget.

It’s only too appropriate I wait for these words, just as I’ve waited for all the others. A man of few words is a generous description, trotted out in the honorariums, life achievements, and hey you’re going to die soon awards of the past year.

His shoulders hunch, peering closer at his last statement. Examining for what feels like an eternity.

He relaxes, pulls a full page from the cylinder’s grasp. Shuffling papers, he searches for an envelope, finally finding one that’s passable.

Using white-out, he painstakingly covers his own name, replacing it with the new recipient.

He stands.

“Stamp?”

I fumble for my wallet, a Forever stamp lodged in the plastic screen meant for a smiling kid in a soccer uniform. An anachronistic habit for just this situation.

As we leave the office, the hall, the house, I slow my pace to match his; almost meandering our way on the well-worn route to the corner mailbox.

It stands ready, solid, to receive and distribute the words of our life.

As if it was nothing more than the phone bill, he grasps the handle and drops in the letter without a second glance.

We step, together, away from the corner.

***

The Art of the Everyday: January 5, Call Me Ishmael: Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post.

By the way, I don’t have a favorite book. It’s like picking a favorite child – it can’t be done. I do not frequently reread, and am of the mind that words and books find you at just the right time, and most likely won’t feel the same again. But this one is pretty good, and a fun exercise in imaginative fiction.

* “If this typewriter can’t do it, then fuck it, it can’t be done.”
Still Life with Woodpecker, Tom Robbins

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