Labor like you don’t need money, Father said as he did every time Rob worked in the yard, That will bring you true happiness, my boy.
I already labor like I don’t expect nothing, muttered Rob under his breath. The air smelled of dying lichen. It was a wonder Father did not hear him in the stillness of the hills.
Each autumn weekend, Father and Rob would crush the fallen, dry leaves as they walked, Father’s gaze sizing up the best oaks to cut, Rob’s eyes lowered on his boots dragging over the gravel. Father slid his arm on Rob’s shoulder. His hard hand stroked Rob’s back, rubbed over the pockets at the back of his fitted jeans, To be young again, my boy, I would give anything for such pleasure.
As usual, Rob flinched, but this time he felt a pulse of hope. Maybe it would work if he asked permission to go for a weekend out camping with the boys right now. Father was always in a generous mood when he talked of pleasure.
Work is worship, Father replied instead, handing him a pair of ratty old gloves that did nothing to save his hands from blisters, Get to work, and no breaks till lunchtime. And remember, happiness, my boy! Look alive! He strode out with a crackle of dead leaves under his feet.
Rob got rid of his jacket, set to work.
I’m happy, he said with each stroke, his arms straining as he lifted the hatchet, One day I’ll be truly happy, he continued as he brought it down. The day it is your head right here Father, he said, setting the next log for splitting, that day I would labor like I need nothing else.
If you liked this story you might like some of the stories I wrote for my A to Z last year.
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