“Mom- let’s go into the antique road show over there!” Hunter grabbed his mother’s wrist and dragged her down the street to the warehouse where a mass of antique shop owners and dealers were tucked away just off the main drag of Old Town.
“Why?” Stella dragged herself behind them. It was their Sunday ritual- lunch and whatever after for just the two of them. Hunter loved antique shops and thrifting and estate sales. Stella was often just pulled along. She enjoyed the time with him, so it didn’t really matter to her. Hunter earned a decent amount of money with his part time after school job waiting tables at a diner, and allowance for chores. He could spend his money on whatever he wanted.
“Because, there is always something interesting and new to find.” He let go of her arm and opened the door for her.
Stella took a moment to move her sunglasses to the top of her head and let her eyes adjust from the bright southern California sun to the dim and dusty rows of antiques.
Racks of old clothing lined a back wall. Show cases of glittering jewelry sparkled under the light. Stella enjoyed looking at the jewelry most as Hunter perused the various aisles. He didn’t always buy something purposeless, but most of the time he would come up and surprise her with an odd and interesting find. She just rolled with his antiquing and random purchases. His room was a hodgepodge of steampunk decor mixed with his various antiques finds, including a provincial French ceramic chicken and a clock shaped like a coffee pot - complete with a coffee cup shaped pendulum.
Stella was transfixed looking at a sapphire ring, contemplating the history of it. Who owned it and why such a pretty piece was there and whether or not she could convince her wife to come meet her there and buy it for her when Hunter popped up with a black bulky old typewriter in his arms. “Okay, Mom. I’m ready to go.”
“Where are you going to put that thing?”
“On my desk. It will look perfect.”
Stella sighed and rolled her eyes. “You are such an odd duck, child.”
“Fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
“Did you see anything?”
“There’s a ring I’ve got my eye on. I know which shop the showcase belongs to. They’re local. Maybe Renee will come back and surprise me for mother’s day.” Stella grinned.
“I got the hint, Mom.” Hunter returned the smile.
Once home, Hunter set the typewriter next to his steampunk lamp on his desk and grabbed a piece of paper, loading it into the machine for added effect. He set up his phone and took a picture and loaded it onto Instagram with a random quote from a book he was reading.
Renee stood in the doorway of Hunter’s room watching him and turned to Stella, “He’s definitely your kid.”
“You helped raise him. You are partly to blame.”
“Nope. This is all you. But it does look cool.”
Renee and Stella made their way back to their room and Hunter got ready for bed. He had school in the morning, followed by a shift at the diner, he wanted a good night’s rest.
He did his nightly routine and made himself comfortable in his bed with a copy of an Adam Silvera novel. His eyes were heavy and it wasn’t long before he clicked off the light and dozed off.
In the darkness of his room he heard the clicking of keys. He rubbed his eyes and turned on the light as the clicking stopped and the quiet bell rang - the sound of a cartridge sliding in place.
“What the-” No one could be seen in the dim light of the room. His eyes tracked over to the typewriter on the desk. He could see words were typed onto the paper. He got out of bed and looked. It read ‘Thank you for bringing me home’.
Hunter stood straight and looked around. “Mom?” He whispered. “Is that you? Are you in here?”
He was met with silence. He looked at his bedroom door and found it closed. Carefully he padded his way to the door and opened it. Stillness and dark enveloped him as he made his way down the hallway and looked into his moms’ room. They were both sleeping soundly. There was no way either of them could have made it from his room back to their own bed that fast without making a sound.
He made his way back to his own room and looked at the typewriter on his desk again. ‘I didn’t mean to scare you.’ Had been added to the paper.
Hunter let out a nervous laugh and looked around. “Yeah. Can we not… I don’t know… Just… I need to go to sleep.” He grabbed his pillow and a blanket and made his way to the couch. He couldn’t fathom falling back to sleep in his room with whatever that was going on.
After barely getting any sleep Hunter was awoken by Renee making breakfast in the kitchen. “Hey sleepy head. What are you doing here?”
“I don’t know how you guys pulled it off. But that trick with the typewriter was scary.”
“Look-” Hunter grabbed Renee’s arm and brought her to his room. Another line had been added. ‘Good night. I’m sorry. Don’t get rid of me. I like it here.’
“Ha ha. You’re funny, Hunter.”
“No! Mama, for real. I woke up and it was typing. I could hear it. I thought you guys were doing it. But you were sleeping.”
“Both of us? I mean, your mom would do something like that-” Slowly the keys started clicking, causing Renee to turn her head and look. Mesmerized, she watched as the keys pressed in as they typed on their own.
‘Stella wants the platinum sapphire and diamond ring at the front counter to the left.’
Renee turned and looked at Hunter. “How did you do that?”
He shook his head. “I’m not,” his voice was a whisper.
‘I’m Louise.’ The keys pressed themselves.
Stella appeared in the doorway with a mug of coffee in her hands. “What’s going on?”
“My typewriter is haunted.”
‘I mean no harm.’ Came out slowly on the keys.
“What the…” Stella whispered.
“We can’t keep it,” Renee stated.
‘Why not?’ The keys clicked. ‘Please? I promise. I like it here. I won’t harm you.’
Renee scooted Hunter and Stella back out of the room.
“We can’t keep it.” Renee repeated.
“What should we do with it?” Stella side eyed the doorway down the hall.
“Take it back.” Renee was whispering.
“I can’t get back out there until the weekend.” Stella whispered back. “I’m not even sure how long the road show is going on for.”
“I got the card for the dealer who sold it to me. He’s local.” Hunter was quick to offer.
“Hunter, go get ready for school.”
“I have to go back in there and get my stuff.”
“Louise said she meant no harm. Just get your stuff. You’re going to be late.” Renee pointed to the bedroom door.
Hunter sulked off.
The typewriter was still on the desk. He rushed through grabbing the things he needed and rushing out of the room.
Throughout his day at school, Hunter barely stayed awake in his classes. He was exhausted. He made his way to the diner after school and struggled through his shift waiting tables.
When he came home, he found his mom sitting in his room, stacks of paper next to the typewriter.
“Louise is incredible!” Stella exclaimed.
“Does Mama know you are in here talking to it?”
“Be nice to Louise. She’s got a lot to say. She had an incredible life. She’s telling me all about it. Plus she wrote my new listing description.”
The keys stroked on their own and Hunter looked down at the paper. ‘Welcome home, Hunter. I hope you had a wonderful day. Your mom is so lovely to take the time to talk to me all day.’
“Mom, are you sure this is safe?”
“Louise is harmless. Just lonely. She was trapped in a dusty old attic for years before she found herself in that store.”
“I’m going to sleep in the guest room until she goes back to the store.”
“If you are going to be that afraid. I will move Louise to the office. I can’t take her back. She hated it there.”
Stella picked the typewriter up and carried it into the office.
Hunter made his way back to the front of the house and paced the front room waiting for Renee to return home.
When she came in through the garage Hunter caught her up in a hurried summary.
They both made their way down the hallway to the office.
“How did you end up as a … well … typewriter?” Stella asked.
Hunter and Renee stood and watched Stella as she leaned in watched the response as it typed out. “Oh, Louise. I’m so sorry. That’s awful. I promise, you are safe now.”
“Stella, get away from it. You don’t know if it’s safe. You don’t know if it’s what it says it is.”
Stella held up the stack of papers. “No. I verified all of it. I looked up everything she said. It was all public record. She’s real. She’s harmless.”
“Stella, we’ve seen the movies. It’s -”
“Louise stays.” Stella was firm.
“Let’s sleep on it. Talk about it in the morning.”
Stella looked forlorn. “Good night, Louise.”
The keys banged out a ‘good night, Stella.”
Stella followed Renee back to their bedroom and Hunter retreated to his own room. The barren spot on his desk where the typewriter - Louise - had sat.
In the middle of the night, Hunter saw light under his door and could hear his mother’s hushed voice followed by the clicking of keyboard keys. He could hear her laughing- trying to stifle it and stay quiet. He put the pillow over his head and tried to go back to sleep.
The next day, he came home, and found his mom again engaged in conversation with Louise. Renee was in the kitchen cooking dinner. “Mama, Mom has lost her mind. She’s obsessed.”
“She has a home inspection tomorrow. She has to leave. I’m going to take the damn typewriter and take it back to the antique shop.”
“I’ll go with you.”
Renee shook his hand. “Deal.”
The next day, Hunter stayed home from school. He was grateful. His mom and Louise’s endless banter - if one could call it that - kept him awake all night. When he made his way out of his room, she was still up and at it.
“Mom, did you sleep at all?”
Stella looked surprised. She didn’t look as if she hadn’t slept. She looked energized. “Louise is amazing. I can’t even believe all that we’ve talked about. I lost track of time.”
“I thought you had a home inspection or something?”
“I do. I should probably cancel.”
The typing of the keyboard clacked away behind her. She turned on the desk chair to look.
“You are right, Louise. I should go. I will go. We will pick back up when I get home.”
Stella removed herself from her seat and stretched while Hunter watched.
“Mom, what on earth were you talking about all night with it?”
Stella moved out of the room and looked at him. “Just life. Just things. She’s remarkable. And stop calling her ‘it.’”
Hunter and Renee made themselves look busy as Stella swept out of the house to make it for her appointment and waited until her car disappeared down the street before snatching the paper out of the typewriter to avoid any messages or protestations Louise might have. Hunter picked her up and put her in the bed of Renee’s pick up truck. He tucked a blanket over it to prevent any damages and hopped in the passenger seat next to Renee.
Hunter guided Renee to the location of the shop. Only for a large out of business sign to be posted in the front window.
Hunter grabbed his phone and dialed the number on the card. He listened to the phone ring, and eventually a voicemail picked up. “Hi. My name is Hunter. You sold me a typewriter at the roadshow thing a few days ago. I can’t keep it. There’s something very wrong with it. So… I guess keep the $50. I’m leaving it on the porch of your shop if you want to come and get it.”
He got out and grabbed Louise, still wrapped in the blanket and tucked her gently on the porch and ran back to the truck.
“Lunch?” Renee asked.
“I’m sorry you are out $50.”
Once they got back from lunch they were unprepared to find Stella sitting in the office, and in front of her was Louise clacking away messages on the paper.
“I saw you dump her on the porch of the shop. I saved her. How could you throw her away like that?”
From there, Stella was a woman obsessed. Slowly, her work began to suffer as she stopped returning calls for clients. She hardly slept. She hardly had contact with Hunter or Renee. Her life revolved around interacting with Louise.
If Renee or Hunter even so much as got within proximity of the machine, Stella would freak out.
She barely ate. She barely moved.
A year went by. Then two and three. Stella wasted herself away hunched over the typewriter, until one morning Hunter awoke and found his mother dead, slumped against the machine.
“Mom?” he asked, though he knew by her unseeing eyes.
‘I’m here, my boy.’ The words typed out on the keys.