Out for Publication... but here's the beginning of the story...
“Hand me that hammer.”
My father’s outstretched hand waited patiently for me to hunt around under scraps of wood and bits of paper. I liked the weight of the hammer. Solid. Heavy. A force to be reckoned with. Just like my father.
I turned it around and held it by the claw. In one smooth motion, my father grabbed the handle, tapped the nail once to set it, then drove it home with a single swing. I watched with awe as he repeated the process over and over again until the subfloor was laid. Sweat flew from his brow the last couple of swings and when the last nail went in, he paused long enough for a long drink of his beer.
“Get me another one.” I jumped, surprised by the growl in his voice, and ran to the kitchen.
“Whatcha doing, Bug?” Ma turned from the counter when I opened the fridge and stared at me. Her face was flushed and flour covered her apron. She had been making pies all day for the festival the next day and the kitchen was stifling because we didn’t have air conditioning.
“Getting a beer.”
She frowned. “Take him a glass of water.”
“You sure?” I asked. She looked in the fridge. There was one beer left in the case.
“Tell him it’s all gone.”
I didn’t want to tell him the beer was all gone and I stood there staring at the beer so long it started to bead up with condensation. She reached around me and took it.
“Shut that door. Everything’s going to spoil.”
I shut the door and almost cried when she twisted the cap off.
“Ma,” I whispered, “Just let me take it to him. Don’t dump it out.”
A bitter smile found the corner of her lips. There was no more arguing with Ma than there was arguing with Pa. Where he was swift in doling out justice, she was resolute in taking punishment. She didn’t have any fear of him. The beads of sweat ran together as she upended it, a sour yeasty odor filling the air already heavy with the sticky sweet smell of berries.
“Take him a glass of water.”
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