"No, no, no! You have to sand WITH the grain!" The old man's exasperated cries echoed through his workshop as he snatched the sandpaper from his four-year-old grandson. "Like this."
His rough, cracked hands showed a tenderness with the wood that he did not display elsewhere in his life.
"See? You have to make your strokes even.." His tone softened, as if he were speaking directly to the unfinished oak beneath him. He began cooing as he pet the wood gently with the rough paper, forgetting the child was with him.
Getting bored, the little man wandered away from his grandfather, looking for something non-sand related to keep him entertained. Finding a small, metal device with a gap in the middle, he picked it up and examined it. One edge of the gap was sharp, slicing his finger. He gasped, but forgot about the cut when he realized it didn't break through the skin far enough to draw blood. His new toy outweighed his fear of being cut and he searched the area for a piece of wood he could test the device on.
After several tense moments, his eyes fell upon a dresser sitting in the corner. It looked old, cracked in several places, the stain having worn off decades before. The little boy perked up. Grandpa wouldn't mind if he played with it. It was old and useless, anyway. Making his way across the shop, sneaking past his Grandpa, who continued to baby-talk to the now sanded piece of wood, the boy found his target.
Hefting the chunk of metal, he smacked it against the dresser. Nothing happened. He frowned and glanced around. His grandpa had heard the clunk and seemed very agitated as he headed in the boy's direction. Eyes wide, the boy turned back to his task. He wanted to know what the object did before it was stolen from him.
He pressed it against the wood, but it slipped from his hands. As the thing clanked to the ground, it slid along the side of the dresser, pulling up a thin curl of wood. A wide stripe of oak appeared wherever the object was and the boy heard a strangled gasp behind him.
He looked around, seeing his grandpa on his knees, hands on his head grasping at what little hair was left there. "What have you done?" the man muttered repeatedly, ignoring the little boy and staring at the dresser.
"I dunno," the little boy said, shrugging. It was just an old dresser.
The old man finally climbed to his feet, pushing the boy out of the way as he swiped up the planer. He examined the damage. "This is just awful. Now I'll have to redo the whole thing. This is going to take me months, years to fix." He turned on the child. "Go back inside. Go to your mother. You're not allowed in here again."
"Go!" The voice boomed through the workshop, echoing off the many surfaces. The little boy scrambled out the door, terrified. The man turned back to the dresser.
"I'm sorry, father. I'm never going to be able to get it as perfectly even as you have." He sighed and got to work.
**Created at Milkwood's daily morning dash. Dashes are held in Second Life at 5am and 6:30pm SLT. This piece is from 4-22-11, using the prompt "even". **