Tools by Lynn Valentine

As the snow shifted on the window, Martin McAllister looked round his workshop. He was sorting out some tools for selling, tools he could no longer use with only one good arm left. The workshop smelled of oil and wood tinged with a tang of sweat. Martin breathed in, the best smell in the world. The workshop was his domain, his home, more of a home than the house that was attached to it.

His wife Sally was in the house, shouting through, ‘You be careful in there remember you don’t have to sort out a lifetime of stuff in a day. Corey said he’d help, he’ll be over tomorrow, remember?’

Martin did remember that his son Corey would be over, that was the reason he was in his workshop, trying to price things up.  That boy would undersell everything unless Martin gave him some guidance.

Corey said he’d pass some tools on to the car club or sell them down at the sailing club or some other club he happened to be affiliated to. That boy was just too damn popular and he’d gotten that way by being over-generous with time, money and whatever help he could throw peoples way.

Martin was the opposite, sure he’d joined a few clubs over the years – the model engineering association, the men’s shed project, the history club - but he’d always been happier in his own company, especially when he was pottering about the workshop.

‘Martin, don’t be doing too much in there!’ Martin stuck his tongue out at Sally behind the wall, let her go on, this was a task that had to be done.

He laid his hand on the comfort of the lathe. He’d paid £1000 for that back in ’81. Corey would tell him how much it would be worth now and how so and so at the car club was willing to pay just a bit under that. Well so and so could take a hike, Martin wanted the proper value.

‘Martin, you gonna clean the path today? That’s the snow stopped for now?’

Martin sighed, Sally wouldn’t let him do some tasks, like figuring out his workshop prices, but she’d have him out there shovelling snow with his one good arm. ‘Let me do this first Sal, I’ll only be a few more minutes.’

Martin sat for the few minutes, savouring the accumulated treasures in his workshop, the last time they’d all sit together. The snow on the workshop window shifted some more. Fresh flakes appeared. Martin cranked the heater up, no doubt Corey would be selling that too.

‘Martin, are you clearing that snow or not?’

‘No point, Sal, there’s more on the way.’


Lynn Valentine writes between dog walks on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands. Her work has appeared in anthologies and online in places such as the Scottish Poetry Library blog and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She is a previous winner of the Glasgow Women’s Library ‘Dragon’s Pen’ award and has been placed in other competitions. You can find her Tweets @dizzylynn

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