The Wooden Heart – Episode 10

Ash walked over.

“I was given this address by Jim Roberts at the college in Gala,” she said. “What are you doing?”

The man grinned. On his face was the kind of stubble beard that most young men were wearing, but this was more fair down than stubble.

Reddish hair tumbled down his forehead above sparkling blue eyes.

“I’m saving the world,” he said. “What are you doing?”

“Watching you,” Ash returned. “What’s that you’re making?”

“A salad spoon.” He smiled. “A very special salad spoon.

“A day ago it was lying in a builder’s tip outside an old cottage. For decades before that, it was a good old oak bed. Now I’m bringing it back to life.

“People throw out furniture, but you can recycle some of it as mahogany, teak, ash and oak supplies. Plus, it’s usually free.”

In his right hand was a narrow and hollowed chisel.

He began to work again, holding the wood in one hand while he carved dextrous little shavings from what was clearly the bowl of a large wooden spoon.

“It’s my contribution towards saving us from global warming,” he said. “Don’t ask me where it fits in to helping climate change, but it must do somewhere.”

Ash perched on the edge of his bench.

“How do you know when it’s a spoon and when it’s a bowl?” she asked.

He looked up, smiling. It was an infectious smile and Ash felt her own lips twitch.

“Depends,” he said. “On simple things like the size of the block of wood – and how many mistakes I make.

“Or on more complicated things, like knots, grain, the texture of the wood, or how I think it would look waxed up.”

She watched, fascinated, as a spoon emerged from the shavings.

“Where did you get that kind of chisel?” she asked.

He shrugged.

“Like all the rest of my gear, from market stalls. They always have a tools stall, and it usually has some older tools bought up from house sales.”

He turned the finished spoon this way and that.

“Ready to be sanded down and waxed to a shine,” he murmured. “And what do you do?”

He paused.

“I want to be a textile designer,” Ask said, colouring.

His eyes opened hopefully.

“Are you a knitter? Wool?”

Ash shook her head.

“Drat,” he said. “We’re all praying that Jim sends down an old-fashioned knitter to make us good thick jerseys. It gets freezing in here.”

“The only time I tried to knit, I stabbed myself,” Ash admitted.

“OK, then. Are you into making fabrics, or putting designs on them?”

Ash relaxed.

“I haven’t really decided which area I’m going to specialise in,” she said.

“Up until now, I’ve gone where I was pushed by the college. Taking what fabrics appeal to me, shaping them into something, and creating the designs I want to put on them.

“What I would like to do is take time to build up a more professional portfolio of designs,” she continued. “Go out into fresh territory and find my own theme or style, as well as keeping the best of the college stuff.”

She paused.

“Have you space for another person here in the dyeing house, or is that a decision that everybody in the commune must make?”

He rocked back on his seat, considering.

“There are five of us. One is away, using borrowed metalworking machinery, two are having the afternoon off with their boyfriends, and the other two are having a long brain-storming session. Which, coincidentally, happens to be in a pub.”

He looked thoughtful for a moment.

“We have use of this place for a token rent. If you’re happy to pay your share of rent and lighting then you’re in.”

Standing up, he held out a dusty hand, took it back to wipe on his faded jeans, then offered it again.

“I’m Calum,” he said. “Welcome home.”

Ash shook his hand.

“I’m Ash,” she said. “Short for Asha. That means hope and inspiration in the Indian culture, but I’m still waiting for the inspiration bit to kick in.”

“Join the club,” Calum said cheerfully. “How about I treat you to a coffee to seal the deal?”

He frowned, reclaimed his hand, and dug out some coins from his pocket and grimaced.

“I’ll buy you a coffee,” he repeated. “If you lend me fifty pence . . .”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.