1/14/2013

Idle Hands

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The story below is my first entry to the Trifecta Writing Challenge.

The challenge is to write a 33-to-333 word response to a prompt using the third definition of the prompt word. This week's prompt is "idle."

IDLE
1: lacking worth or basis : vain
2: not occupied or employed: as
    a : having no employment : inactive
    b : not turned to normal or appropriate use
    c : not scheduled to compete
3: a : shiftless, lazy
    b : having no evident lawful means of support


Idle Hands

 Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.

That was Mam’s favorite, the one she kept right in the front of her over-stuffed mental filing cabinet of Life Lessons where it was handy when needed.

I’ve fought Mam’s homilies all my life, and won the battle with most of them. I no longer worry if my underwear is clean enough – should I be hit by a bus, don’t you know – or feel like I’m at death’s door if I miss my daily apple.

 But idle hands thing? I just can’t seem to silence Mam’s ominous-sounding warning, and it scares the daylights out of me. I guess it must be the Devil’s personal vested interest in any pause my hands may take that makes it so terrifying. I picture him there, hovering, just waiting to swoop in and seize my tarnished soul the minute my hands stop doing, doing, doing.

And, oh, the things I’ve done to keep him at bay. I raised children and kept house. I cooked and baked. I gardened. I painted and threw very lop-sided pots. I crocheted and macraméd. And as I grew older and my hands less dexterous, I knitted. And knitted.

I knitted Christmas and birthday gifts and presented them to my family and friends. I knitted baby blankets and caps, and donated them to hospitals. I knitted scarves and hats, and took them to homeless shelters. And I knitted mittens, endless pairs of mittens. I knitted so many mittens that I can no longer find anyone who will take them. I have the grandest wardrobe of mittens any old lady could want.

My hands are gnarled with age now, unable to wield the knitting needles anymore. I know the Devil is just there, a step behind me, preparing to claim his prize.

At least my idle hands will be warm while I wait.

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23 comments:

Brian Miller said...

ha. love the last time...and play on the idle hands as well...fun write patti....

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is a delight. Hee hee.......I love it!

Managua Gunn said...

There is a real sadness there, and a raw irony....very well penned.

AR Neal said...

Ah, yes...the struggle with life and life lessons...Great entry, and welcome from another relatively new Trifectan :)

Stacie @ Snaps and Bits said...

Oh the poor dear! I'm glad her hands will be warm, at least. Well done!

Janice said...

Fun! That final line cracked me up. By the way, it's nice to see some blog writing once again. I always enjoy your work.

Tom MacInnes said...

Fantastic story! Glad you decided to join the ranks. You are a talented writer. I look forward to reading more of your work in the weeks to come.

tenwordstory said...

Your story had a terrific ending and I love picturing all the homeless mittens laying around. I've always wanted to learn to knit but I have no skill when it comes to working with my hands...

Sandra Crook said...

Your narrator sounds totally driven. Very well portrayed.

Tara R. said...

The things we remember, those homilies that stick with us to the point of obsession. I could picture her constant need to stay occupied.

Christie @Random Reflectionz said...

I think many of us can relate to the need to constantly keep busy in order to quiet those inner demons.

Brian said...

The whole thing was great, but I've got to say those last four paragraphs or so really did it for me. I loved the descriptions of all the things her hands have done, and the contemplative tone it takes as we start hearing about her as an old woman. Great job! (oh - and welcome to Trifecta!)

jannatwrites said...

Wonderful story! I had to laugh at the ending - just the mental image of the devil in wait for your soul. I like how you took the busy hands from youth to old age.

muZer said...

Wow. Those hands sure have done a lot for all those years. Loved the narration and how it flowed with a pinch of humor. Great take on the usage of the prompt.

Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Love this piece - Love the description of the hands, and the obsessive "busyness". Perfect last line. I'll be back to read more.

Atreyee said...

Loved the piece & especially the last line:-)Great play with words & yes,it's really tough to grow out of old habits,nurtured by being drilled into us from childhood in the form of warnings,saying & even veiled threats:-)

Annabelle said...

GREAT ending! I love the mental image of the Devil coming for an old lady and her mittens.

barbara said...

last line? perfect!! Welcome to this week's challenge.

Anna :o] said...

Excellent write with a perfect ending.

Anna :o]

Draug said...

This has a hint of gloom to it, but it is a wonderful piece (:

Trifecta said...

Welcome to Trifecta! We are so glad you decided to link up this week. This is a great story. It makes me hope you'll stick around for a bit. We'd love to see more of your talent.

donna kiser said...

Always interesting which words our mother spoke have the greatest impact. I wonder if they (we) would repeat them so often if they knew? Additionally, I can really relate to this piece. Nice work.
dk

Sandra said...

Oh, boy... I just may turn into her when in a few decades! I enjoyed this piece, PattiKen!