"Bear in mind: the goal of Word Enchiladas is to write for fun and outside of one’s comfort zone, so be constructive and be kind."
"Tools can walk," my dad would say. Set them down for five minutes and they'll disappear on you only to turn up on the other side of the job site, likely as not in the hands of someone else. Do enough work with them you start to get your favorites. A hammer with just the right grip and weight or a knife that can be abused for years and never seems to lose its edge.
For Dad it was a screwdriver. The screwdriver. To the rest of us it was just like any of the others--rusted flat tip and a faded blue plastic handle, chipped on the end--but to him it was magic. Any stuck screw, any spot seemingly out of reach, anything needing to be chiseled, pried, scraped, it did it all. When I was growing up I spent nearly all my time out in the shed with him as we built
When Mom left she took it with her just to spite him. While I was out with my friends, drinking ourselves stupid in the woods, he spent hours in the shed, sometimes until dawn. We were both hurting but I was a teenager and was trying to show I didn't need him anymore. I didn't think that he might've needed me--I should've been for him more.
I went to college, moved out, got married. After he retired he spent nearly all his time in the shed building increasingly elaborate furniture. The living room started to fill with bookshelves. It was a way to process his heartbreak, I suppose.
Then the bedroom became crowded with dressers and he moved a cot into the shed. A hotplate joined it as the kitchen became a forest of chairs, stacked to the ceiling. It was unhealthy but in honesty I never worried too much about it. The house stayed clean and he stayed in good health and good spirits. It was an eccentricity I thought relatively safe to indulge.
After he died my wife and I moved into the house with our new daughter. The shed was exactly as I'd remembered save for the cot and a sunken divot down the center where decades of feet had worn down the dirt. He'd never put anything else in the empty outline where the screwdriver belonged on the pegboard. It was like Mom had taken a piece of him and he couldn't bear to replace it.
We tore it down a few years later when we decided to build a deck. We toppled the walls and started digging out the floor to make room for the new foundation. Until we started digging up bones. My wife called the police who worked for hours carefully uncovering the skeleton.
And there, wedged between the bones halfway up the neck, was the screwdriver.