Below is an extract from a short story in progress. The working title is, “In Acceptance”…

 

There were three things I had in common with my father: whiskey, writing, and sleep-walking. According to him, I was an uncultured whiskey drinker and untalented fiction writer. ‘But, my God, you might just be the greatest sleep-walker there ever was,’ he said one morning after he’d seen me juggling semiconscious in my flannel pyjamas. To this day, I’ve never been able to juggle whilst awake.

He hadn’t left me much: a few unpublished manuscripts, a signed first-edition of his debut novel, and his Remington Portable typewriter, which he was found slumped over, with an empty bottle of whiskey in his lap and the final words he ever wrote stamped into the furled paper — I’m tired.

The Remington Portable was a beautiful thing. When you held it in your hands it was heavy and cold, like a chiselled lump of iron ore. But when you placed it on a desk, it became an intricate, miraculous object, like a miniaturised munitions factory, with hundreds of delicate cogs and levers working to your bidding. I’d always loved it. My father was repulsed at the idea of using a computer or word processor. ‘What’s good enough for Orwell is good enough for the rest of us,’ he said once, grinding his teeth down to the gum as he wound a fiddly ink ribbon into the Remington (Orwell used the same model, but my father had been duped into thinking he’d bought Orwell’s actual typewriter. As such, he treated the thing like a literary totem, with powers beyond mere mechanical virtue). When I heard that he’d stipulated in his will that I should have it, it was the only time after his death I came close to crying. I just didn’t expect it — he wasn’t a sentimental man.

 

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