Holiday Digest: a new year with a royal
By Miranda McPhee
“I need your New Years story no later than December 30,” my editor said for the umpteenth time. “Then we’ll talk about renewing your contract. I grimaced on the phone. It was December 20 and I arrived empty. As a New York transplant with decades of cold and snow to proclaim winter, I had a lot to learn about celebrating Christmas in sunny California, let alone write about it.
“You just have to hide and carry on,” she said.
I needed to get away from my busy housekeeping so I threw caution and money in the wind and booked a night on Airbnb which was nearby and cheap, maybe too cheap.
I retrieved the keys to the safe from the front steps, and as I walked through the threshold of a small guesthouse, it was as if someone had turned off the sun. It was thousands of miles from Laguna Beach. Up a squeaky staircase, I found the reason for the high rate. My room was tucked away at the back, facing a narrow alley. The decor was positively Dickensian. The walls were dark blue, and the carpet and politely polished furniture had seen better days. In the corner was a vintage Royal typewriter from the 1930s on a round marble table. I looked at him suspiciously; would that help me or make fun of me? I felt underdressed and chilled in my T-shirt and flip flops.
Three hours later, I slammed my laptop shut and fought the urge to escape the sun. How about a walk on the main beach? No, I had to work. The more I tried, the less I got out. The idea of leaving the house to help my handwriting flow was starting to seem ridiculous to me.
On a whim, I snatched a piece of paper from my notepad and slipped it into the Royal. I smiled when the click of a typewriter key took me 40 years back to the days before computers, the Internet and even Wite-Out. At a time when I created in my head what I wanted to say and typed it carefully knowing that errors involved retyping an entire page. These days, I’ve grabbed a fleeting thought and threw it into a Word document, expecting a whole train of thoughts to spontaneously follow.
The typewriter was obviously used, as the keys were responsive and the cart came back with an easy ka-ching. I typed “quick brown fox jumps over lazy dog” 18 times, left the page in the typewriter, and went to bed.
That night, I dreamed of writing on the Royal, hearing the soft click, the snap of a heartwarming metronome. I woke up reasonably refreshed, made some coffee, and checked out my typing page from the Royal. I opened my laptop, determined but nervous — Dec. 20, and I still had nothing to show. I had to leave before 11 a.m.
I was in a number of false starts when my phone rang. Oh no.
“Love! I love him!” my enthusiastic editor. “It’s the best thing you’ve ever written. It’s a great way to start the New Year.
“What?” I asked, confused.
She stopped. “The story you sent an hour ago. »I clicked on my Sent mailbox. There was indeed an email from me to her.
“So you like it?” I took time.
“Perfect. Original, heartwarming, relatable. Good job, Susie. We’ll talk about your contract renewal next week, okay?
“Of course… great! Thank you, I replied. “Good year.”
On my own again, I opened the email and downloaded the story “A New Year with a Royal” and started reading.
Miranda is an active writer, pickleball player, grandmother and retiree who spends her 60s exploring new places and having adventures.
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