Sunday, November 13, 2016

Interesting Characters: Edna Lipster


She was better than her husband at fixing typewriters. It was his job, he owned the business, but in Edna's eyes, he was lousy, slow and not methodical about it. While Edna cleaned up his workroom most days, she saw his sausage fingers fumble and pinch all the wrong parts, cursing under his breath, and then apologizing for the crude language in front of his wife.

At night, she crept down from their bed, and lit three oil lamps. As the light cascaded dancing shadows, she picked up the tools and did what her husband couldn't. She undid the wrong screws and moved the letter typebars to their original spots. As her light began to snuff out, she replaced all the tools back where she found them and crept back up to bed, her hands clean from the ink ribbons and grease.

Customers came and went, thanking her husband for the excellent work on their typewriters, glad they could recuperate their correspondence. Her husband took the thanks in kind, humbly bowing his head, and went back to the work room to ruin more typewriters.

This did not make her mad. After he suffered from a strange illness years ago, he did not realize he had lost the ability to fix typewriters. To him, he was moving all the right parts and tightening all the right screws. This is why he was lousy. Not because he knew better but because he didn't know at all. And Edna had paid attention, had listened to her genius husband when he was at the zenith of his typewriter-dom, and had become his unintentional apprentice.

She did this because of one typewriter, the light blue one upstairs in their sitting room. Twenty years ago, he stamped his marriage proposal to her on a cream sheet of paper using that typewriter. And, still, that proposal stayed, just like the typewriter business, through sickness and health, until death did they part.