A short piece I did a while ago from a prompt about writing about people’s hands.
Calloused hands lifted the shovel up as the farmer sighed; hands thick and large, crooked from years of hard work, sunup to sundown. Setting his hands on the cracked wood handle he turned towards me.
I cast my eyes down, embarrassed, and studied the old shovel. It was cracked and missing some chunks from the blade. The metal was rust covered. Why not just buy a new one? Why not just get something better?
Bringing my eyes up to meet the man’s gaze I smiled. The smile was fake, just to reassure my self that I was doing the right thing. The old man’s eyes glinted in the fading sunlight as our figures cast long shadows onto the shoveled ground. The man’s face was wrinkled with old age, tanned to a soft brown from years under the sun. His blue denim over-alls were sweat-stained and covered in dust. The ragged shirt under them was as well.
I gingerly held out my hand as a hello and wasn’t surprised to get a handshake back. It took him a moment to get his gloves off. The fingers of the man showed wear and age, I could see arthritis setting in, his fingers were gnarled and rough, calloused and worn from eons of working hard and ignoring the pain, the warnings of what might happen.
“Hello, miss.” His voice didn’t match his body. It was crystal clear, showing no hint of the aged man that stood before me. The vocal was solid, not what I expected. I was excepting a rough sandpaper voice, one that showed years of used and abuse, but that wasn’t it. I tried to mumble out a reply, but none came out.
Blushing slightly I moved forward and tried again.
“Hello, I’m Kate, the woman who called about your interview…” I left it at that having no more to say. The man nodded.
“Follow me,” he said gruffly and motioned with a small hand gesture and started to walk down the drive towards the old run down barn. I followed, keeping my eyes down letting them trail the dragging shovel. The dust from the shovel rose up, it hadn’t rained in days. My eyes watered, I had always been sensitive to the dust.
The man had called me about an interview, I didn’t know what he wanted to talk about, but wasn’t about to let a good story go to waste.
When we reached the barn he slowly sat down upon an old crate and motioned me to sit on the one across the aisle from him. I gingerly sat down after brushing the thick layer of dirt off.
“Well you’re probably wondering why I called you,” he paused as if thinking about it, “I wanted to tell someone about my story, my life.”
I stared at him for a moment trying to figure out what he was saying, “So you want to tell me your story?” I asked with a hint of confusion.
“Exactly,” was the reply I got, so I reached in my back pocket and grabbed up my note pad and pen, waiting for the man to start speaking.
As he began, a misty look came into his eyes, a look that came from treasured memories.
“I used to get up at four every day, whether it was snowing, raining or deathly hot I got up and did my chores. As you probably know, things were a lot harder back then. I actually had to work, not like these kids now who think dusting a piece of furniture is working. I got up every day to feed and milk the cows. I had to collect the eggs from our hundred chickens and finally, I would go inside and get ready for school. My parents wanted me to have a good education.”