Pine chest upon pine chest were stacked taller than I in our “end room”, the one with a door to the back, with its lean-to shelter and concrete flooring. That is where Kunaka and João worked outside on the weekends.

They planed by hand and sanded by hand, and did everything by hand. The timber was sanded so finely. I loved the smell of the sawdust, its fine softness.

I was inside, sewing velvet interiors for the jewellery boxes they made.

Kunaka had a club foot, but he had a bicycle. João’s eyesight was failing, but she would not let me screw the screws in, and so often struggled to fix the screwdriver in the screw slot – using both hands.

I had to let her do it. I was not allowed to say anything about her shaking MS hands.

Each chest took between eight and twelve layers of varnish and the colour was especially blended by João, from several different tins. That was twenty years ago, so it was.

I am keeping one, as I step into my new life. She and I called it “Mega” to tell it apart from all the others.

©2019 Allison Wright
[197 words]


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