Helping to Build

‘Are you busy?’

         I jumped, and bonked my head on a wooden beam above me.

         ‘Ooh, sorry love,’ my mum said, tip-toeing through the half-built frame of the flat and rushing to pat me on the shoulder. ‘How’s your head?’

         ‘Topographically interesting,’ I grunted, with a pained grin.

         ‘What?’

         ‘What can I do for you, mum?’ I sighed.

         ‘I was just wondering if there was something I could do to help?’

         ‘To help?’ I looked around the construction site and then down at her cane with a frown. ‘What were you thinking exactly?’      

         ‘I don’t know what a foreman needs,’ she said, jokingly poking me in the ribs with her elbow. ‘But you know all my special skills, so you tell me what jobs I can do!’

         ‘No offence, mum,’ I said carefully, ‘but I don’t know how crocheting is going to be much of a help here, is all.’

         ‘Is that all I’m good for?’ she asked in mock hurt, pressing a hand to her chest. ‘What about electrical stuff?’

         ‘Electrical… stuff?’

         ‘That can’t be very different from crocheting.’

         ‘This I’m dying to hear,’ I grinned, leaning against the wooden frame.

         ‘Well, you know,’ she gestured vaguely. ‘Cords?’

         ‘Right, right,’ I nodded. ‘Unfortunately, I already have a licensed electrician coming in to do all of that, so even if I wanted to—’

         ‘Do you need any supplies, then? I could head down to get electrical supplies from a store near Cheltenham?’

         ‘Actually, now that you mention it, I could do with some more, uh…’ I glanced around the site for inspiration. ‘Nails!’

         ‘Nails?’

         ‘Nails,’ I nodded. ‘I’m just darn about outta nails.’

         ‘Oh,’ she frowned. ‘Okay, I can do nails.’

         ‘There’s a hardware store close to Hampton that’s great for nails,’ I said. ‘Take these so you know what you’re looking for.’

I handed her the packet of nails I was currently using, hoping she wouldn’t notice it was almost full.

As soon as she was gone I sighed and went back to work, right up until—

‘Dammit, now I don’t have any nails.’