By Natalie Warther
I’m a typist. My clients are mostly very old men. I get most of my work off of Craigslist. Who types up the ads for the very old men of Chicago who need things typed, I don’t know. But I go to their very old homes, and I sit on their very old couches, and I listen to their very old, maybe false stories, and I type them.
My skin, my face, my hips, everything has fallen. I long ago transitioned into the kind of woman that men do not want to touch, so my clients tell me everything, as if they are boys and I am their mother, even though we’re the same age.
I’ve never met the other typists of Chicago, but there must be a few, because sometimes the ads are taken down before I have a chance to respond. I have to check frequently and act quickly. But the competition doesn’t bother me. It comforts me to know I’m not the only woman out there who drives to the houses of old men, sits on old couches, listens to very old, maybe false stories, and types them.
Sometimes I type grocery lists. Sometimes love letters. Once I typed a goodbye to a cat from a man with a terminal illness. Here is something I typed last week:
I remember being a five-year-old boy. I remember that I didn’t know what my penis was for, or why I wasn’t allowed to touch it. It was my pet snake, my secret friend, and I touched it, and wagged it, and filled it with pee. I still do some of those things, but the joy is gone. We’ve been through too many things.
That night I got home, I thought of that man’s appendage, all that skin and tissue that had once been such a source of joy, and now was just limp, hanging off of his pelvis like onion skins, I took off my shirt, took off my bra, and I shook my puppies in the mirror the way I did as a teen. They slapped against my torso, all of that unused milk sunk down to the bottom, they beat against me like two tube socks filled with oatmeal, which hurt a little, but I jumped, and I shimmied, and I pushed them together, and I let them fall as they pleased. And then I slathered them with shea butter and put my fleece nightgown on, flushed in the face like a girl.
Natalie Warther holds a BA from Northeastern University and an MFA from Bennington College. She is a prose reader for GASHER Journal and a finalist in the Smokelong Grand Micro contest. Her most recent fiction has appeared in Hobart After Dark (HAD), X-R-A-Y, and Maudlin House. Natalie lives in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter at @warther_natalie.