A Sight for Old Eyes

by Michael Tuberdyke


Everything that was built in the shop was made out of wood.  The old man who ran the shop could recall the days when he was just a young boy, when he and his father would gather what was necessary from the acreage in the back.  These were the good years, but slowly the unfair hand of the clock tore time away.  Within the years that passed the old man was plagued by a debility that forced him to sell nearly everything.  It was difficult to do and the process was slow, but somewhere along in that period he reconciled with himself and decided to keep just enough that would see him through until the end.  After all, it was land purchased by his father’s father and there are some things in life which never die.

He sat in the center of the room upon a wooden chair in silence.  To the right of him was a photograph of his late wife.  He kept her forever and always in the same frame that was placed above everything else in the shop that he loved most.

The floor under his feet was renovated more times than he could remember.  No matter how many times it was done over, he could never get rid of the speckles of paint that scattered themselves here and there like big, heavy raindrops along a sidewalk just before a storm.

Below the floor the foundation was made out of stone.  This was where he slept and at night before he gave himself up to rest, he would feel the walls and meditate over the very fine edges — the work, the energy — craftsmanship like that was rare these days.

From behind him, he heard the door open followed by the sound of familiar footsteps treading lightly upon the floor.

“Sorry I’m late.  It was hard to get up this morning.”

“It’s okay.  The first battle is always the hardest.  You go out like you were saying?”

“Yes and I’m feeling it today.”

“That’s okay.”

The young boy who lived up the road was the man’s only employee.  He worked only every now and again, but when the man lost full control of his vision he had needed someone full-time.

The boy was glad that the man wore his sunglasses today.  Sometimes, he didn’t and it was difficult for the boy to work because the affect of his blindness cast a dark shade that cracked his spectrum of life.

“What would you like done today?”

“Continue to sand.  I’ll tell you how to assemble the cabinets.  You ever done that?”


“Good. I’ll teach you right then.”

The boy shook his head in distaste and plugged in the sander then went at it, piece by piece.  Almost an hour later he looked at the man who looked sad even though he was smiling.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah.  It’s just frustrating.  It’s hard to sit back when you know you can do a thing.  I built everything in here myself and I never needed to pay out.”

The old man always got this way.  Every Sunday it was as routine as a sermon and the boy would never say anything, but look at him blankly then continue the work.  In some sense it was cruel, but the old man enjoyed it figuring the boy was a regular tough.

Something was different about today and the young boy looked at the old man through the glasses.

“Well, you have done this plenty of times. You cant go at a thing forever.  Think of me as your protege.  You’ve done enough.  Let me learn and make the mistakes.”

The old man sat there in silence for a minute, before slowly nodding his head understandingly, while waving his hand signaling for the work to continue.  For everything in the shop was made out of wood, everything but the hearts of two that beat in time together as one.




Michael Tuberdyke is the author of the novels, The Pharaohs and The River May Run.