This story is one of the March Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.
Her fingers traced the keys of her mother’s beloved typewriter. A cool breeze blew in through the slightly open window, and a few grey, dry petals fell from the withering plant in front of her. This brought her attention to the small mirror behind the plant. A girl looked back at her through the shiny, untouched glass. Her brown hair disheveled; tired, hazel eyes hollow and empty. She barely recognized this skinny shadow of a girl staring at her. How long had it been since she looked in a mirror? Since she saw her reflection? She couldn’t remember.
She took the mirror off the wall and put it face down on the desk with a shiver. This time she kept her eyes fixated on the typewriter, pushing down on the first letter with a satisfying click. The metal was cold, and the familiar sensation shot through her body like an electric shock. Soon she was typing swiftly, experienced fingers tapping away at the machine. Pouring her mind out onto the off-white paper. Her eyes followed the words as they appeared on the page in a wonderful calamity of black print. The room spun then disappeared altogether until it was just her and her typewriter and her thoughts and the world she was carefully crafting through her fingers. It felt wonderful. She felt alive again. Alive for the first time in too long.
Within a matter of minutes, the first page was completely full, and she pulled it out of the machine with a shaky breath. Her fingers were aching, but she didn’t care; she had to stay focused and keep writing. It was the only thing keeping her sane. The only thing keeping her alive. She put in another piece of paper and started again, continuing where she left off. She didn’t notice her father slowly opening the door. She didn’t notice him scratch his chin or adjust his glasses nervously, and she didn’t notice him gingerly make his way across the cluttered room to her desk. But she did notice when he put his hand on her shoulder. In fact, she practically jumped out of her skin in shock. Her father immediately lifted his hands to show he meant no harm, and she relaxed a little.
“It’s so good to see you out of your room, Cara, and you’re writing again. This is really great progress!” Cara didn’t reply, but that was no surprise. She hadn’t ushered a single word since the incident, since her mother died. But her father was right; this was progress. She’d left her room, she was writing again, and, best of all, she could feel. She could feel the aching in her fingers and the buzzing in her head and the wooden chair digging into her back. She could feel the warm, comforting feeling in her stomach when she saw the pride in her father’s eyes. She could feel the breeze from the window and the hammering of her heart in her chest. She was alive. She could feel it.