The Wooden Heart – Episode 18

“He will be in here,” Ash said, reaching for the kitchen door handle. “Oh!”

The cottage door was locked.

“I left him with a paint brush in his hand,” she said mournfully, fishing in her bag for her house key. “Big mistake.”

“Maybe he’s tunneled to freedom?” Calum smiled.

“At least he’s locked the door behind him.” Ash sighed. “Come in and I’ll make us both a mug of tea. He can’t be far away, and we can ask him about the wood when he comes back.

“It’s all out there in the shed, and I’m sure he won’t mind you having some.”

She unlocked the kitchen door and headed over to the kettle.

Calum hesitated in the doorway, then his eye caught the kitchen cupboards on the walls opposite, and drew him into the house. He looked up, frowning.

“Second from the left for the teabags,” Ash said.

Responding automatically, Calum handed her two teabags, then opened the cupboard door a little wider to let the light from the window shine across it.

“Awesome,” he said quietly. “He’s used mortise and tenon joints throughout. I haven’t seen these since my apprenticeship.” Closing the cupboard door, he opened another, then a third. “These are a work of art,” he muttered.

“Your tea, Calum,” Ash said, holding out his mug.

He didn’t hear her as already he was heading for the front room. By the time she had carried both mugs into its doorway, he was on his hands and knees, then lying on his side beneath the table.

“It’s his trademark, locking everything together like jigsaw pieces,” he muttered. “Who made this stuff, Ash?”

“The grandfather I never met,” Ash told him. “Your tea, Calum.”

“Right,” he said absently, rising and reaching for the mug.

His eyes were shining and his hair had fallen over his face.

Such a nice open face, she thought, fighting the urge to reach out and push the hair back from his forehead.

Taking the mug of tea from her, he stared at the table and chairs.

“In the really old days, you had to produce some cabinet work which showed all your skills to their best,” he told her. “An exhibition piece – a masterpiece, really, before you were judged fit to be a cabinetmaker. This work is that good.”

“Is it?” she asked, her eyes still on the lock of hair.

Something in her flat tone made him look up.

“Sorry,” he apologised. “I get carried away. I love wood and how it has been worked, and the craftsmanship here is truly excellent.” He paused, then asked, “You said that you never met him?”

“It’s a long story,” Ash said. “Family feud.”

There came the sound of the kitchen door opening, then her dad stood in the doorway. He was filthy with black oil, and held in his hand a greasy metal fitting.

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.