Writing Prompt: Old Hammer and Willow Quart Pot

Billy snuck into the shed, easing the big door open just wide enough to slip through. It seemed to take an age but he couldn’t risk the creak and whine of the hinges if he pulled at it too roughly. That would set the dogs off, or the roosters would start their loud crowing.

The shed was in darkness, with just a sliver of light coming through the doorway. It was enough for him to see shapes on the workbench. He grabbed the hammer, felt a strange comfort in its weight, and headed back outside. The door shook a little as he closed it and Billy paused, checking that nothing else was moving.

He crouched down and scampered towards the fence line. The pot was just where he’d left it, beside an old tree stump. It was used as a scoop for the chook feed, but he’d moved it to the stump late yesterday. His Mum would be cursing when she noticed it was gone, and Billy wondered for a moment which loss would bother her the most. He put the pot into the hessian sack, beside the spare shirt and food he’d tucked away. He straightened up with the bag over his shoulder and hammer in his left hand.

He walked as quietly as he could manage through the long grass, stepping lightly, wary of holes left by rabbits. When he reached the road he eased himself over the barbed top of the fence, his hammer resting on the other side as he dropped his bag and scrambled after it.

Billy headed west. With each step he felt a little lighter. He found his rhythm and barely noted the weight of the bag or the heft of the hammer.

He could hear his father, his voice sceptical as he spoke of a sighting of gold in the next district. It was in one of the newspapers that found their way at intervals to the farm. His father believed in sheep, not speculation, and was critical of anyone who had ambition beyond the next wool clip. But Billy couldn’t stop thinking about what it might feel like to uncover a glint of gold in a seam of the earth. His mind spun at the possibilities of a life beyond the seasons, of something other than shearing, dipping and rounding up mobs of unruly sheep.

He walked on as the day began to take shape behind him, brightening the track and lighting his way.

This prompt was written in response to a couple of objects brought along by a fellow scribbler to a writing group. Have you written a piece inspired by a physical object?

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