The Attic

Daily Special 18: Photo Prompt

Dr. Casey Lawrence
Promptly Written
3 min readNov 18, 2021

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Photo by Peter Herrmann

When she was a child, the floors were always polished to gleaming. Nan would not have had it any other way. She would tut and tut and scrub on her hands and knees, even when her knees grew knobbled and her hands bent arthritically. Olive could smell the wood polish even now, a glimmer of a memory.

The wallpaper was the same. That wretched floral in the stairwell and a geometric print in the “study” — the attic. Olive took her time ascending the fold-down stairs, holding tight to the sides. For a moment, she could see Nan’s hand on it— but no, those were her own hands. Those liver spots were hers, the wrinkles, the arthritic joints. As she climbed, she could hear her grown daughter, Amy, puttering around the kitchen, opening cupboards.

The grandchildren hadn’t come; they were on school holiday and a trip to the beach with their friends had seemed so much more important than looking at some old house. Some old house — once well-kept, neat, especially on Sundays, with the laundry hanging to dry on the back porch so the neighbours wouldn’t get nosy. Old Mrs. Shackleton across the road. Mr. Collins on the left side, the Swinton brood to the right: nine children. The Corners on the corner with their two boys.

As she hauled her old bones into the attic room, Olive realized that she was older than her father was when he worked in here. Older even than Nan and poor old Mrs. Shackleton, widowed with no children, alone in that big old house. You could see her house from the attic window…

Motes of dust danced in the room. Olive’s breath caught. It was the same as he’d left it, her father, all those years ago. When Nan sold the house with furniture included, Olive never dreamed that the new owners would keep everything the same. Maybe they couldn’t be bothered to use the attic.

But everything was here: one of Nan’s good chairs by the window with good light for reading; the glass-fronted curio; the old dresser; the hutch with the good silverware and china inside. On top of the hutch was dad’s typewriter, the lid sat open like he’d left it in a hurry. A pop out to the store for cigarettes, or a snack from the kitchen between drafts.

Olive approached the typewriter slowly, as though at any moment her father would come up and admonish her for playing with his things. He was long dead. Long, long ago. Nan wept at his funeral.

Pursing her lips, she blew the dust off the typewriter. A cloud of it filled her vision, but Olive did not cough. She could hear Amy laughing at something in the living room; maybe she’d found the pencil marks on the doorframe where Nan would mark her height.

Laying her fingers on the keys, she typed her own name, slowly. There was no paper in the carriage. She felt a strong hand on her shoulder.

“Welcome home, honey.”

Thank you Ravyne Hawke for today’s fiction prompt: “Use the image above to write a story. / Word Length — 500 words exactly / Restrictions — word length/ must use a different, but relatable image for your story”

I was inspired by the lovely typewriter on the dresser in the original photo (by Peter Herrmann). I went to the photographer’s Unsplash page to see if he had any other photos of the same location and found this one of the same typewriter (note the same wallpaper, glass balls, and candleholder).

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Dr. Casey Lawrence
Promptly Written

Canadian author of three LGBT YA novels. PhD from Trinity College Dublin. Check out my lists for stories by genre/type.