Black Keys- Friday Flash

The Underwood Touch-Master 5 was among the las...

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By Melissa L. Webb


The typewriter stood silent. Black metal glittering in the harsh florescent light. Ivy stood mesmerized by the way the keys seemed to call to her. “Why does it have to stay in that display case, Daddy?” she asked, turning to look at the man behind the desk.

“What was that?” he spoke, barely even glancing up from the laptop in front of him.

“Can’t I just use it once?” she asked, trying to get his full attention.

He looked up at her, his eyes resting on her wrinkled brow and sighed. “I’ve told you before, Ivy. That typewriter means a lot to me. I started my career with that thing.” He glanced over at the display case, a frown tugged at the corner of his mouth. “I created our lives with that. Everything I have, I owe to that hunk of metal. I don’t know what I would do if something happened to it.”

“That typewriter gave you the inspiration to write your first story?” she asked, thrilled by the idea.

Her father nodded. “In a lot of ways, it did, pumpkin. I would never have found the courage in me to share my words with the world, if it hadn’t been for that thing.”

Ivy eyed the typewriter with awe. “I want to be like you, Daddy. I want to share my words with the world, too.” She turned and looked at her father, putting on her best pout. “Maybe it can give me courage, too. Please, Daddy? Please?”

He shook his head as he closed the laptop and stood up. “You don’t need that relic to be a writer, Ivy. You can use the computer downstairs.” He walked around the desk and wrapped an arm around his daughter. “And if you decide you really like writing, I’ll buy you your very own laptop.”

She looked up at her father and grinned. “Really?”

“Really, pumpkin.” he told her as he led her towards the door. “Now, let’s go downstairs and see what your mother’s making for dinner.”

She let he father lead her out of the room, before glancing back at the silent back keys shimmering in the light.


Ivy tiptoed silently down the hall, taking the cold doorknob in her hand. Glancing around her, she opened her father’s office door, quickly slipping in. Reaching blindly, her fingers collided with the plastic switch and the room was bathed in florescent light once again.

She glanced around the room, her eyes instantly falling on the display case. All evening her mind kept wandering back to the archaic machine. Why it fascinated her so much, she had no clue. All she could think of was how wonderful her words would look on a sheet of paper from that typewriter.

She slipped across the room to where the display case rested on a table against the far wall. Her hands slid along the glass as she peered adoringly inside. She wanted to be a real writer like her father so badly. If this was what started his career, it could start hers as well.

Ivy carefully lifted the glass box from the typewriter, setting it to the side. Holding her breath in awe, she brushed her fingers over the sparkly black keys. How exquisite it seemed compared to the everyday computers which filled the world. She could definitely see herself writing the next great novel with this machine. This was the romance of being an author.

She looked down at the paper still in the paper guide. Curiously, she pried up the paper release and pulled the paper towards her, taking in the words on it. It must be the last thing her father wrote on it. Her eyes fluttered over it, her lips turning down in a frown as she read it.

I will be a famous writer. I will have a wonderful wife who loves me and a beautiful daughter named, Ivy. I will be happy and have everything I ever wanted. My life will be good.

Ivy stared at the words. Why would her father leave something like this in the typewriter? Her eyes drifted over the words again, when suddenly they slowly began to fade. Lighter and lighter the ink became until it disappeared completely. She gasped in shock, letting the paper fall to the floor.

She glanced around her nervously. How had that happed? Words didn’t just disappear like that. She stepped back, away from the table and the display case. Something wasn’t right with that typewriter.

Ivy turned towards the door, opening it as she heard her father cry out.

“What did you do, Ivy?” his voice carried down the hall. “What did you do?”

She shook her head as tears formed in her eyes. How could she have known? Things like that weren’t possible. She wanted to scream, to cry out how sorry she was. But she stayed silent as she watched herself fade from reality.

© 2011 Melissa L. Webb

14 thoughts on “Black Keys- Friday Flash

  1. That which creates life can also remove it. Very nice idea. I would have maybe liked to see just a bit more descriptiveness about the typewriter it self, since it did give life and does seem such an item of nostalgia to us keyboard modernists of today.

    Marc Nash

  2. Excellent paacing in this Melissa! I thought the typewriter was going to eat her, but this is much much better. One of your best.

  3. The stuff which dreams are made of. I really enjoyed this. It gave me flashbacks to the typewriter I used back when I was a lad. It certainly had more character than this laptop … sorry, laptop.

  4. Really unsettling. I know it’s beyond the scope of the present story, but I have to wonder what happens to the guy afterward — my uncertainty about that is the most unnerving thing.

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