Mirror, Mirror, 1965 Fiction; 4 pages; Complete. Philadelphia, PA; Age: 13; Adolescence; Time of great longing; Psychological fiction.

First page of Mirror, Mirror. Mss_0012.

PDF: Large image

Loose paper sheets; Typescript; Very good condition; some aging of the sheets;

Prose; Loneliness; A girl falls in love with a persona who appears in her mirror, as her dead father has in the past. Amy and Richard.

The typing on this page goes all the way to the margins, top, bottom, sides. The typing is fairly clean, and almost all of the errors are overprints of keys in proximity (e over r, for instance) that are corrections without erasures. One or two strike-throughs and a few pencil marks are the other forms of correction. Was this copied from a handwritten original? Or typed out directly? And, since the font is in fact different from that of the manuscripts typed from the winter of 1965, I think this must have been typed on the machine my father used for his cartoon captions. I was not allowed to use it on a regular basis, hence my desire for my own typewriter, and this would have been an exception, granted as a favor not to be repeated.

Related mss: Felice

For Christmas in 1965, I will get a typewriter. Because this is a major purchase, around $70, I pay for half of the gift with babysitting money. My contribution was earned from multiple weekends of being paid 50 cents an hour for a sum of two or three dollars a night. This means I have saved for months and persuaded my mother that a typewriter is essential to my life as a writer. I have been hunched over the machine since I opened the package on Christmas day. I feel my status as a writer will improve now that I have the professional instrument, which is far and away my most precious possession. My mother cautions me against learning to touch type because that is feminized work and devalued in the culture. But I am a writer, I tell her, and I need to be able to type. In fact, I will not learn to touch type until 1975, ten years later, so I type with two fingers, delirious with the pleasure of working on the small manual typewriter, a Brother. It confers legitimacy, and the power to turn my childhood hand into actual text, to elevate it past the school-girl manuscript and into the professional code of typescript, is utterly hypnotizing. I spend hours and hours typing. I have many texts that have gathered in my drawers, in the envelopes or paper clips that hold them together. I have a small room of my own now, at the back of the house, on the second floor, off the half-landing. The room is cold, the radiators work badly, the glass in the windows is from the original 1820s house, and the insulation non-existent. The room is tiny, big enough for a bed, a small table, a stool, with small, wall cupboard where I keep my few books and my manuscripts. The typewriter has a brown leather cover and zips closed. I wear the ribbons out until they are bald. Erasing is not an option, the paper is standard bond, and erasing fluid is a thing of the future. The sheer compression of the single spaced layout intensifies the commitment to the project, and to the act of typing as a way to solidify the prose into a solid mass. I love the feel of the sheets when they are completed, all the small punctuating marks of impact tactile and present. Writing, with the machine, becomes dimensional.

The story is a fantasy about a girl whose dead father visits her in the mirror, a reflection, a ghost, a phantom. She is drawn into the mirror space herself, and vanishes. Like “Felice”, the story plays with uncertainty about identity, which, in this instance, seems to rely upon reflection, which turns out to be empty and emptying. In both stories, the female characters vanish, unable to hold their own identities stable.

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