I try to resist the temptation to reuse a story, but now and again one begs to make a second appearance. This is a reworking of a longer tale I wrote in June 2009.
He had a little wooden workshop at the bottom of the garden. I don’t think anybody ever saw inside, except his wife who wandered down now and again with a mug of tea.
I remember as a child hearing sawing and hissing as I walked past, I even climbed the fence once, hoping to peep through a window, but I couldn’t see anything through the dusty glass pane.
Every Christmas each of the children in the village found a little wooden toy in the stocking they’d hung from their bedpost. We were told that Santa made it, especially for us. A little car, an animal or a wooden whistle. Little did we know where it really came from.
The years passed by and many of us had children of our own. The tradition of the toys was enjoyed by a whole new generation.
He lived to a good age and carried on working in his workshop until he died. On the day of his funeral, several of us were invited to visit his little wooden workshop.
For the first time in our lives, we saw inside. Hammers, chisels and screwdrivers hung from the wall. Pots of paint lined up like soldiers along the shelves. A lathe on a bench, and saws of every shape and size below.
In the centre, sitting on trestles was a coffin. It was no ordinary coffin. It was intricately carved with smiling kiddies’ faces, many of which seemed strangely familiar! It was a riot of colour and sitting on top was a wreath of wooden flowers.
Later at the church, we each placed one of the gifts he’d made for us on the lid of the coffin.
It was probably our imaginations playing tricks, but in a quiet moment, we thought we heard the faint sound of sawing and the hiss of sandpaper on timber.
A while ago I met a girl called Laura. A strange girl, she‘s never seen without a pair of dark glasses covering her eyes. Much is hearsay, but those who claim to know her all seem to tell the same story. Let me tell you what I‘ve heard about Laura.
They say that throughout her apartment, sunglasses are tucked, wedged and propped into every corner. Under cushions, in kitchen drawers, on shelves, among the leaves of her houseplants; dark glasses lurk, peer and peek. As if they are watching everything Laura does.
Nobody has ever seen Laura’s eyes. Are they blue as the midday sky, or brown like the soil of mother earth? Are they as cold as a winter morn’s frost, or burning like the flames of an autumn bonfire? Do they sparkle or sulk or glisten or brood? Day after day Laura hides her eyes behind windows of darkened glass.
They say eyes are the windows to the soul. Laura wants nobody to see into her soul. And she has no desire to look into the souls of those she meets. They don’t realise she’s avoiding looking them in the eye. She looks to their right or their left. She stares above or below; anywhere but into their eyes. Because of her glasses, they have no idea.
Laura lost her mother when she was but a few years old. Those that remember Laura’s mother remember only her eyes. They say they looked empty, like deep dark pits. She was it seems, a troubled person, though nobody ever knew why.
It is said that when Laura looked into her dying mother’s eyes she saw something terrible; something which would stay with her always, and something she never wanted to see again.
And so, from that day to this Laura has worn dark glasses so no one can see into her soul. She fears they may see something within her that could lead them down the dark path she walked all those years ago.
And she worries she might see something deep inside theirs which will bring back the terror she suffered back then.
I’ve not seen Laura for a while. I don’t know where she is, or what she’s doing. Those that claimed to know her all drifted away.
I think about Laura, often.
‘If thine eyes be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness’: Matthew 6: 23
Jock the Shock’s an electrician, and he’s known for being a bit of a live wire!
Ask him what his favourite band is and he’ll say AC/DC, his favourite ice cream, shockolate, what does he like in buns, currents, he drives a Voltswagon van … the list goes on!
I saw him in the pub the other day and he told me his mate had been charged with battery and spent the night in a dry cell.
I was shocked until I realised he was up to his old tricks and punning again, he just can’t resist it!
He suddenly looked a bit down in the mouth so I tried cheering him up by playing him at his own game and said ‘watts up?’, and he told me he was having a problem with his current girlfriend because the spark had gone out of their relationship.
I chuckled before realising he was being serious, and before I could say how sorry I was, he got up, walked towards the door, then turned and said ‘I’m going ohm’.
Thanks to Denise at GirlieOnTheEdge for hosting.
This has absolutely nothing to do with my silly story, but the prompt took me back to my childhood and an LP I played over and over again, Sparky’s Magic Piano. This is just the final part. Warning, it gets a bit emotional halfway through!
Brent applied to be on Britain’s Got Talent. He didn’t make it. “Their loss”, he said, “and the viewer’s loss too”.
Determined to prove them wrong he decided to try busking.
Brent considered himself multi-talented. Singing, juggling, magicing (his word, not mine); you name he claimed he could do it!
Last Monday he stood in the main street and started singing. People crossed the road to avoid him.
Tuesday he tried juggling. Unfortunately, a ball went awol and bonked someone on the head.
Wednesday he tried conjuring. People just walked by.
He had one more trick up his sleeve. Actually, his sleeve was up something else, a dummy! Brent the Vent was certain this time he’d cracked it.
Thursday, he launched his new career! It was a disaster. He couldn’t keep his mouth still, B’s became G’s, and when the dummy’s head fell off and rolled down the road he decided a rethink was necessary.
There was a stall in the market selling second-hand nick-nacks and there in the middle was a great big toy lion. Just the job he thought!
He bought it, performed a few incisions with surgical precision and wallah, he had a dummy that was far easier to deal with!
I watched him at the weekend.
“What’s your name?”
“What’s your favourite seafood?”
“What’s your hobby?”
“What do cows eat?”
It worked! Watch out for Brent the Vent on next year’s BGT, he’ll be a roaring success, I’m Shoarrr!
It was a lovely service. Most of the congregation had departed, and the cathedral which minutes earlier had resounded with the glorious sound of the choir and the strident cords of an organ was silent but for my echoing footsteps, and the distant giggling of the youthful choristers as they escaped into the autumn sunshine.
It was then I saw it. There on the stone floor, swathed in a palette of colour from a nearby stained glass window was a marble slab dedicated to Jane Austen. It felt disrespectful to step upon it knowing she lay beneath!
I stopped to read the inscription. The sweetness of her temper, and the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her, it said.
Did you know she was just forty-one years old when she passed away? That seems so unfair when she still had so much more to give. She wasn’t even spared to finish her final story, Sanditon. It was completed by ‘another lady’.
I’ve seen a movie or two based on her work but never actually read a book so the next day I went to the library a took a copy of Pride and Prejudice from the shelf. Romance isn’t a genre I normally go for, I’m more of a murder and mayhem kinda’ guy but I was totally immersed in her tale. I even tried to imagine myself as Fitzwilliam Darcy!
I stopped reading for a moment to reflect upon the young lady that wrote the words that so effortlessly drew me in, and as I did so, the pages became awash with a rainbow of colour as a shaft of sunlight bounced from a shiny steel panel to my side.
Gone but never to be forgotten.
Thanks to Carrie for hosting.
Jane Austen’s final resting place is in Winchester Cathedral.