Short Story for WildnFree’s Dad

Celebrating Father’s Day with a short story about WildnFree‘s excellent Dad.  She wrote it at a Writer’s Victoria workshop ran by Melbourne literary icon Arnold Zable, who after she read it aloud, said, “That’s publishable” with a smile in his face and an emphatic finger jabbed her way. So, she’s publishing it, for Father’s Day.

The Novice

It was sent straight to Dad’s shed, not the garden shed, but the tool shed, the one housing all of his most prized possessions. The nail compressor, the hammers, the various bits of wood, long and short, neatly stacked under the workbench. On the concrete floor, below the shelf holding boxes of nails and screws, sat the orange metal toolbox he’s had since he was fifteen years old, carrying it with him on the train from Caulfield to South Yarra, escorted by Grandpa, long ago on his first day of work.

Years later, a little girl raised on the smell of sawdust on his overalls, began Year 7 Woodwork. She’d go home and tell Dad about Mr Moschetti, an enthusiastic bearded man who wore stubbies and Blundstones all year round.  Mr Moschetti taught her how to sand wood and saw it, then nail or glue it together. “Teachers,” scoffed Dad, although his father-in-law was a headmaster. “He’s probably never done a hard day’s work in his life.”  Nonetheless, we had a project to complete, a work requirement to be marked. We had to make something. Shaping together blocks of wood to form a wooden turtle, I nailed the parts onto a backing block.

I took it home.  I showed Dad.

‘That’s fantastic’ he said. ‘I’ve never seen anything like it.”

He stood up and walked to the back sliding door, flinging it open with familiar careless force. Walking down the back steps, he went straight to the tool shed, opened the door, flicked on the fluorescent light that took two pulses and blips to fully light up. Opening the orange metal toolbox, he took out a hammer. Rifling through a box of medium sized nails on the shelf, he picked one and put it between his lips.

He leaned over the workbench, took the nail from his lips and grabbed the hammer. Bang, bang, bang.

My wooden turtle was hung pride of place over the work bench.

“How’s that?” he said.

“Good,” I said.

It’s hung there ever since.

~~~

(He took it down and hung it on the wall inside when I showed him this story)

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