hammond by juleshg

11 Jan

Hammond’s fingers were aching again.  On the coldest winter days they were so stiff and sore he could barely turn his key in the lock.  An occupational hazard, he supposed.  As a mail carrier his gloves needed to be thin enough to allow him to handle the envelopes and packages and as a result his fingers froze only minutes after he stepped out on his route each day.

The joints were swollen and arthritic now.  After 25 years walking the same route, his hands seemed to have paid the highest price and they got worst each year as the weather turned cold. 

 As he made his way into the house the kitchen was always his first stop.  He shooed the cat off of the counter and used both hands to pick up the old kettle.  He filled it with water and put it on the stove to heat up for his afternoon tea.  His fingers would feel cold for another hour at least but that first sip of tea managed to warm the rest of his body almost instantly.

Waiting for the water to boil he surveyed the cluttered kitchen trying to figure out where to start sorting out the mess.  It was easier when Madeline was around.  She couldn’t abide a messy kitchen and had kept it spotless.  Thinking of her he could almost smell the Javex she used daily to scour the kitchen sink.  She used one of his hand-made dish clothes because she liked the way they held up to grease but the bleach was hard on the fibres so they usually ended up in the rag bin after only a few weeks.

Thinking back Hammond wondered if the dish clothes were the only things Madeline really appreciated about him at the end.  The only gift he ever seemed to get right. 

He had started crocheting in his early years at the post office when his knuckles first started to swell.  An older man on the job had taken him under his wing and suggested that he start doing the needlework to keep his fingers limber.  The old man swore by it.  “If you let your fingers get stiff there’s no going back.”

When he first picked up the hook he had no idea what he would ever make.  He would simply make a base chain then move back and forth, row after row, completing a perfect square before fastening off the yarn.  He had quite a stack of them by the time Madeline came into his life and it was she who decided that they were in fact dish clothes.  Smitten with her, he was not willing to argue.  He simply handed her a few squares off the top of the pile.

It was one of the last times she was truly happy with him.  Shortly after Madeline moved into his home the relationship soured.  He had been a bachelor for too long and she found it difficult to slip into his life and his routines and he resisted her attempts to fix-up his old apartment.  He did not want a new electric kettle or a modern stove.  The ones he had were fine: functional and reliable.  She wanted to go out, to dance, to meet people but that simply wouldn’t do.  He had to be in bed early if he wanted to be one of the first men in the sorting room the next morning.

Eventually she stopped asking and before Hammond knew what had happened, she was gone.

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3 Responses to “hammond by juleshg”

  1. ingridfnl January 11, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    i love the details… the javex, his hands, his weariness… it is all very vivid.

  2. jadamthwaite January 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Me too… and the idea of using crochet squares as dish clothes – it presents a great image!

  3. phoenix.writing January 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    ^ What they said. 😀 The details were very vivid, and you really captured the feeling of being that ageing postman who’s resistant to change.

    Love the image of the warmth-giving tea, too. ^_^

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