Behind the scenes of “The Carpenter”

cover12Last week my short story, The Carpenter, was published on Smashwords and has since been downloaded almost 200 times. 

The Carpenter was a story I wrote as a Christmas present for my mother, and was inspired by our family camping trip in summer 2013. We were hiking in Kejimkujik National Park and were surrounded by these massive, ancient trees that blocked out the majority of the sky and towered far over our heads. My dad, forever the captain of Team DIY Carpentry, routinely stared up and with stars in his eyes would say, “Look at the beautiful lumber that would make/I could make an entire set of chairs out of that tree/Look at the wooooood.” 

I commented on how instead of seeing the trees he saw lumber, and in my mind I saw a carpenter walking through the woods, and instead of seeing the forest he saw only furniture growing out of the moss. The carpenter intrigued me. How did he get there? What was he like? What was his story?

It took me a long time to get around to writing this story, but I’m glad I did. It was a lot of fun to write, to imagine who the carpenter was and who he could have been if his life had gone differently. There’s still a lot I have to learn about the carpenter and what he did in those seventy years the story takes place in, but I’m almost more fond of him because I don’t know everything about him, and I think readers might feel the same way.

If you would like to read The Carpenter (it’s a very short read!) you can head over here where you can download it in essentially any format possible. Feel free to leave a review or a comment. 😉

 

Cheers!

Lib

The Cenotaph

I’m trapped in this body. Cold metal forms my bones and joints, and the muscle and skin feel like a piece of rail road track to the touch of a soft hand. My arm is locked in an everlasting salute, my blind eyes forever fixed on a spot somewhere on the horizon. I ache. My silent, still heart aches. It burns to swell and grow and pulse. My eyes wish to weep and my arms desire to embrace and my legs want to run again. But that is not what I am meant to do.

In the winter the snow covers me, settles in my bent elbow and my shoulders, my eyelids and the tops of my boots. Blue jays are my only visitors. I can feel their tiny talons and feathers and imagine what it’s like to fly, and miss them when they leave. I am lonely, invisible to the people passing along the street. The frozen torch in my hand weighs the weight of a thousand slain soldiers, and their names inscribed in my cold heart are heavy, so heavy. I carry their memories in my mind, see their lives in my blind sight and hear their regrets in my deaf ears. I cradle them without ever embracing them, holding them, loving them, keeping them safe after death. I remember.

The spring brings warmth, and my metal skin isn’t quite so unbearable to touch. Rain washes away snow and I’m reminded of muddy French trenches in April – not my memories, but the memories of those inside me. Drawing on these remembrances I can see flowers bloom in my sightless gaze and feel arms around me, but I also relive dying moments, so many dying moments. Blood and muck and limbs and terror. They don’t mean to force these memories on me, but I must bear them, and they should be remembered. It is a lot to carry, but I would give this job to no one else.

In the summer I rust a little more, but stand just as straight. Teenagers sit at my feet and smoke stolen cigarettes and call at girls as they walk by, and there’s nothing more I would like to do than kick them with my solid iron boot. They don’t see what I see, blind as I am, or hear what I hear, deaf as I am. They don’t hold the memories of the dead and the gone. They don’t know that behind a layer of metal are the enduring moments of war and horror, barbed wire and gas masks, guns and boys and letters from home, letters they never got the chance to read. I am made of unread and unfinished letters, broken hearts and broken bones.

In these seasons I go unnoticed by all except blue jays and teenagers looking for a place away from parents in a world where war is a game on a screen. No one visits me, no one visits the memories I hold. We are alone in our reminisces.

There is one day in the year when I’m not alone with these memories, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. November eleventh. Every person around comes out and stands shoulder to shoulder, poppies bright over their hearts, their warm, beating hearts. I can feel them, and some of them are aching, too, the ones who remember. The weight of my torch throws out a glass circle and traps them all in my spell, and slowly I release some of the memories in my skin, my bone, my chest. I share with them the things we are supposed to never forget.

They all stand before me, taking in all the things I have to show them. They remember.