The shed

The shed

I (omniscient POV, no characters)

The corners of the shed’s roof were dotted with moulds. An old cloth hung on a spike that was drilled far into the brick wall. Inside it was silent, apart from soft ticking of raindrops on the only window. The window showed shades of green and purple, of the heather and shrubs that covered the stretches of field outside. All the metal items had turned a reddish-brown and the damp air was filled with the faint smell of iron. Dust had collected on the shelves full of pots, jars, and boxes, that had not been moved in over five years. There was one jar, however, containing a sheer collection of woollen pieces, knitting needles, and bits of knitted wear – not knitted far enough to be recognizable as either socks, gloves, or a shawl – that had a clear thumb print on it.

II (third person POV, shed owner)

His rain boots were sucked deep into the mud when Dickinson made his way up hill. For years the sheep had been gone. Nature had taken over. Heather and shrubs were competing for ground and smothering every other plant attempting to grow. At the point where the shed lingered from the side of the hill, Dickinson stopped. Raindrops hit his glasses and bald head and collected in streams that dripped onto his raincoat. A memory struck him. Her long, golden hair draped over her shoulders while she smiled at him, walking up hill to bring her bread and cheese and, on the better days, an apple. The sky darkened. Wind pulled his clothes. He stopped stopping. He had to go on.

A shrieking scream run goose bumps all over his body. It was the hinges. Dickinson tried closing the door, but after years of suffering from the cold and moist the metal simply cracked and let the door hang tilted, as an alternative gate, a way out of this world. He took a deep breath and collected himself, shaking off the urge to use a way out of this world. Cold from outside crept over the shed’s floor, touched the stillness of the walls full of rusted tools, and the shelves full of pots, jars, and boxes, and the cloth, still on its spike, that he had last held in his hands just before the girl from downtown had knocked on the shed door.

III (first person POV, object in/around shed)

My seams have rotten away over the years. It is this horrific combination of cold and moist that brings out the moulds and bugs that eat me. The spike that I was thrown on hurriedly all those years ago, has scarred me. Gravity pulled me down and that horrific cold and moist scarred me, damn it. I used to be clean. I used to be drowned in water and laid flat on the barrel outside, and the sun would evaporate the water collected in my fibres and I would be picked up and used to clean again. I never had stains. I never was forgotten about. But that one day I was.

The man used sandpaper to smooth a massive bulk of wood. I saw him cutting, filing, smoothing, cutting, filing, smoothing, on and on and on. His hands turned wood into chairs, cupboards, chests, shelves, barrels, bird-boxes. Art, it was, pure art. The massive bulk of wood now is as rotten as me. Covered in moulds and hollowed out by bugs and drenched in moist.

He was smoothing that bulk of wood when a girl knocked on the shed door. Her cheeks turned a deep cherry-red as she sucked in gulps of air while stammering the man had to come. It must have been something in her eyes, that were young but full of awareness. The man had hesitated, used me to dry his face. But then he knew. The girl was still panting softly and eyeing the man, waiting, when the man dumped me on the spike and slammed the door behind him.

IV

It was a few days after the funeral when Dickinson walked up hill carrying a jar in his hands. The day appeared unusual, as if the green of the grass and the blue of the sky were brighter than ever, and the wind was caressing his cheeks instead of biting, and smells of blossoms, and earth, and approaching rain fought to be smelled in his nostrils while usually he never smelt a thing. The sheep bleated but continued to chew slowly when he passed by. His thoughts ran over all the arrangements he would have to make now his wife would not be herding the sheep anymore. Now his wife would not be cooking his dinner anymore. Now his wife would not do his laundry, and make his bed, grow the herbs in the small garden at the back of their tiny house, that was now his and empty. She would not smile at him anymore when he brought her an apple on the good days and follow him in his shed and kiss his neck in a way that he had never known she could before he married her.

The cloth had never expected to see the man again. To be in his hands, and dry his face, to clean pots and jars and tools. Not after the man had carefully placed the jar containing woollen pieces, knitting needles, and pieces of knitting wear on a shelve next to a pot of gasoline. For minutes Dickinson had stared at the jar and could not erase the images of his wife knitting by the light of their only electrical lamp, while her golden hair shone as if it actually was made of gold. It took him months before he could prepare a stew without crying. The pans carried her presence. The stove carried her presence. He still kept one plate that she had washed and dried the next before she died and had not used it in all those years. A fine layer of dust had collected on the surface but he had instructed the girl that cleaned his house every month not to touch the plate unless she wanted to lose her hands.

Dickinson breaths in the silence and listens to the raindrops ticking at the only window. The jar still stands where he had put it five years ago. He now remembers he did not want to let go of the jar. His thumb print, though covered in greyish dust, still shows. With one swing he throws out the rotten bulk of wood. He starts sorting out his tools. The ones that are not rusted to the core, he keeps. The other ones he throws next to the rotten wood. He picks up the cloth and rinses it in the rainwater of the barrel outside and cleans all his pots, jars, and tools. He continues to clean until the dark of the rain clouds changes to the dark of the night. Tomorrow he would buy new tools in the city, and new hinges, and paint.

I had never expected to see the man again. His face has grown older, but soon after he brings in a new bulk of wood, some wrinkles disappear and a tan chases the white out of his cheeks. I absorb the sweat of his face while he is cutting and filing and smoothing. Soon the bulk of wood turns into a crib. Sometimes the man whistles. Sometimes he looks at the jar and smiles.

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About chb

Writer, scientist, puzzled by mankind.
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