Andrew sat in the worn armchair, with his notebook and a stub of pencil. His scribblings were keeping him sane at this difficult time. He couldn’t seem to stir himself to do the things he used to do. Walks into town, lunch at the local café, even visits to his son had no appeal. He’d always liked to write, though. Even as a little’un. He would disappear into his imagination and all he needed was a notebook and pencil. He had never had anything published but his attempts amused Alice, Charlie, and the grandkids, over the years. You should make a book of your funny poems they used to say. Not that he felt like writing anything funny these days, but the act of writing seemed to soothe him.
He had come out to his shed as he felt claustrophobic in the house. Many a happy hour had been spent in here, in this old chair, eyes closed, listening to the radio. He looked around his old shed for inspiration and began ….
Biscuit tins, advertising long lost brands, full of ‘bits and pieces’
Chair, worn arms, oozing stuffing
Drill bits, unused now there is no-one to make things for
Electric tools used to improve their new home, many moons ago
‘Flowering plants’ a well-thumbed book his love used, to design their once beautiful garden
Gardening gloves 2 sizes, small no longer required (He would keep them though.)
Hats to keep his bald head warm, or protect it from the sun (Alice always shouted “Don’t forget your hat!” when he went out into the garden.)
Insects buzzing at the windows
Jars with screw topped lids, full of nuts and bolts
Kneeler, a present from a grandson he rarely sees
Letters in an old box, from the only time he and his love were separated (Until now)
Memories – all that he has left (But what amazing memories they were.)
Nails of different sizes
Organic compost drying in its bag
Plant pots of all sizes, crusty with soil
Questions buzzing round his brain like the flies at the window (‘Why?’)
Rusty tools, once tenderly cared for
Spade, hung on the wall for the last few months
Tins that used to contain coffee and custard powder now concealing who knows what
Urn, containing ………. (He couldn’t bring himself to think about it.)
Vice on his sturdy
Workbench, with his
Yellowing newspapers from years ago
Zzzzzzzz dozing in the stuffy warmth
He really felt like he could doze off now.
“What the …..?” Andrew was startled awake by a loud smash. He struggled to his feet, using the arms of the chair to push himself up with a groan. He looked blearily around. The thin glass window had been smashed. An ‘England’ football lay in the middle of the wooden floor surrounded by shards of glass. He opened the door to his shed and peered out. No-one to be seen but he heard voices from over the fence at the end of his garden.
He climbed gingerly onto an upturned crate and looked over the fence. Standing in the garden that backed onto his was a small boy and, presumably, his mum. The look on their faces told Andrew that they knew what had happened.
“I’m so sorry Mr ……..” said the lady.
“I’m Andrew. Don’t worry. I’m sure the little man didn’t mean any harm. Easily mended,” he responded kindly. He could remember when his Charlie had been that age. It saddened him that he and his grandchildren lived so far away that visits were few and far between.
“That’s very generous of you, Andrew. I’m Katie. Perhaps Sam can help you fix it.”
“Well, give me time to clear away the glass and then he can pop round and give me a hand if he wants.” Andrew thought it would be nice to have a bit of young company.
He walked back into the shed and swept away all the glass. Shortly after Sam appeared carefully carrying a small plate with 2 slices of homemade cake.
“Mum says here is something to keep us going, and there will be coffee waiting for you if you want it.”
The cake was lovely and moist and the two spent a happy half hour with Sam handing tools as Andrew boarded up the broken window. When it was done Andrew tidied up as Sam looked around the shed gently touching tools and tins.
“This is like a cave full of treasure,” he breathed, his eyes wide. Andrew ruffled his hair.
“Well you are welcome to come and help me any time, young man. Let’s get you back to your mum now. I think I could do with that coffee.”
As they stepped out of the shed, Andrew noticed for the first time, what a beautiful day it was. The sun shone and there was a gentle breeze carrying the song of the garden birds.
He had coffee in Katie’s bright and cheery kitchen. As they chatted he discovered that they had only recently moved in, that she was a single mother (no mention of Sam’s dad) and had no friends or family nearby. Eventually he told her about Alice.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, putting her hand on his arm. “It sounds like you had a lovely marriage.”
When he thought it was time he should leave them to it, Andrew reluctantly said his goodbyes at the door. As he stepped into the porch he felt his foot sink into the flooring slightly.
“Have you got a problem here, love?” he asked.
“Oh that. It’s just the floorboards are a bit rotten under the mat. There must have been some water coming in at some time.”
“I can have a look at that for you if you like,” he said. “I’ve got lots of spare timber in my shed.”
“Well if it’s no trouble …..”
“Not at all. And if there’s anything else needs doing, you let me know,” he said as he walked back to his garden whistling.