The Carver

Posted: June 11, 2014 in Friday Fictioneers

Before I retired, I worked in a dental office. One of our patients was a retired physician who carved beautiful wooden boxes and asked us to keep old dental tools in order to reach the smaller areas of the carvings. Each of the names I use in this piece are the actual names of dental instruments: hatchet, cleoid, hollenback. Ted, thanks for the great photo!

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright-Ted Strutz

Little Tom plucked the Hatchet from the glittering row of instruments.
“Your Eye.”
The tools blinked in the sun as he once again pawed through them with large, scarred fingers.
“Cleoid – for your incisors and cross-hatched tail.”
Little Tom chanted ancestral songs as he worked – canoeing songs, burial songs.
The scent of cedar and paint and the sea filled the room.
Time moved too fast, the ferry would be here soon.
Fingers running over the tray, instruments clattered and clanged until he found the Hollenback.
“Your ears.”
The ferry horn sounded. He lifted the carved beaver bowl.
Finished . . . just in time.

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Comments
  1. tedstrutz says:

    I loved this story. Knowing about the names made it even better, as I imagine each tool would make a different mark. I can picture Little Tom as a Salish woodworker in our Pacific Northwest.

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  2. Alicia, I think Ted said it all. This story was lovely and I could almost see the finished piece. The woodworking information you gave made it real. Well written. 🙂 —Susan

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  3. Really enjoyed your story, and although it leans on dental props, it still has a unique feel. Loved it.

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    • Thanks! Like I said, I worked in a dental office and each patient had their own horror story. I tried to steer away from that as best I could. I’m glad you liked the direction it took.

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  4. This is awesome on it’s own, but even more so after learning the ties to your life. It’s funny how people generally have negative associations with dental tools, but you brought a whole new facet of their work. You really brought life to his art- I felt like I was right there!

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  5. How wonderful – I can really see the way he works with wood… As a kid I did ceramics.. and the place I went to also had discarded dental tools for some of the finer works we did… but I can imagine that they would work well for woodwork…

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    • Bjorn – thanks! It’s pretty cool how those instruments can be used so many different ways. My father was a very skilled potter and used old dental tools I’d send him. Glad you could see what Little Tom was up to.

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  6. Lovely bit of folk art here. And the use of the tools seems to have resonated with a lot of your other readers.

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  7. draliman says:

    I never thought of dental tools being used in that way. It’s like after the tools are “retired” a less pain-inducing use can be made of them 🙂

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  8. What a lovely story. I could really appreciate the skill and attention to detail of your main character

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  9. Dear Alicia,

    You really put a different face on those dental tools and shared something of yourself. An interesting and engaging story.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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  10. Thank you, Rochelle. I was trying to make them seem more “user friendly” if that’s at all possible.

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  11. hugmamma says:

    I was primed for a horror story. So glad it was a crafty one instead. Well done. And I loved your own dental story…

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  12. MM Jaye says:

    I did some googling as ol’ Greek me isn’t familiar with the lingo, but once I got the picture, I truly appreciated the story. Excellent!

    Greetings from Greece!
    Maria (MM Jaye)

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  13. Wow! Thanks for taking the time to do the research. I don’t think many people outside the profession know the lingo. You’re a trooper. Thanks again, Alicia

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  14. I really enjoyed the use of language in this.

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  15. Amy Reese says:

    Oh, this lovely. I never thought all these tools had names, but of course they do! I just call them tools of pain. 🙂 What a beautiful way to integrate them into a story. Well done.

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  16. Thank you, Amy. I’m glad you appreciated learning the names of the instruments. Knowing them doesn’t makee going to the dentist any better, but…

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  17. Maree Gallop says:

    Great take on the photo prompt. Unique and very interesting!

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  18. Alice Audrey says:

    I’m glad you explained the technical names ahead of time.

    This reminds me of a couple of weekends ago when I was selling things at a fair. I managed to finish making a cape on the second to last day, and sold it as I was finishing the last stitches by hand.

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  19. Alicia, I thought of you right away! (though I’m really late getting to the stories this week!)… You really capture the local feel of the carvers and the place. Love the names of the instruments; it’s such a good touch in this story! Wonderful!

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    • Dawn – thanks! It was odd seeing the instruments and trying to make them interesting, not mundane and reminders of pain. With your schedule I can understand why you’re late getting to stories this week. I’m surprised you were able to write anything, yet alone read any. Glad you’re having fun with fireflies! Alicia

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      • Can’t get enough of the fireflies! I sure wish I could have videotaped them… it’s nearly impossible! You did an awesome job with the instruments. It added a whole other level to the story, for me. Just beautiful!

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  20. annesquared says:

    I love your story. Grew up in a dental office and know the tools are valuable and can be recycled for many different purposes.

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  21. hafong says:

    Lovely story, Alicia! Little Tom seemed to love carving. It brought the song, Whistle While You Work, to my mind. I had to go to YouTube and watch the Snow White sing it! 🙂

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  22. Sun says:

    a beautiful story, Alicia. i love the way you described each tool and left the reader wondering who would receive this lovely treasure. lovely!

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  23. Sarah Ann says:

    I really like the voice in this and Little Tom putting a little bit of himself into the bowl through his dialogue with it. Beautifully drawn – I get a sense of his brow furrowed in concentration.

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  24. Me, too! Glad you could feel that.

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  25. AnnIsikArts says:

    I like the fresh vocabulary in this. Gives it added texture. I didn’t know the names of the instruments but wouldn’t have needed the explanation beforehand. Incidentally, I have some and have used them for clay sculpting. I don’t think they’d be very successful on wood. Anyway, I enjoyed the story.

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