Tool Time

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

November 4, 2015

Tool TimeEvery trade has its tools. Writers have their favorite set of pens, journals and books, in addition to their computers and events like NaNoWriMo. Using such tools, they take to the page and write about other tools.

No tool is off limits. Writers have penned stories about selfie-sticks and hock-spanners, crochet hooks and levels. Some stories use tools to explore values and the value of a writer.

The following are based on the October 28, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include a tool in a story.


South-Pawed Defiance by Paula Moyer

Frances was nearly 90 years old. Her ouvre: intricately crocheted doilies, afghans, baby jackets and caps. Her left hand and her crochet hooks had done them all.

Swat! Frances grimaced at the memory. Her teacher “catching” her. There she was, writing with the “wrong” hand. Again. “Hold out your left hand, Frances,” the teacher said, smacked it with a ruler.

Crochet, though – she did that at home. A hook and a left hand. They couldn’t see her, couldn’t hurt her.

Her great-granddaughter Jean, also left-handed, called Frances a “crochet artist.” Jean knew – the hook was a tool of resistance.


Future Writer by Jules Paige

“Know full well the full truth that there is value in that light
of the ink that flows from the dark pen.” – JP/dh (2015)

If there were no such thing as a keyboard, fountain or ink
pens, leaded or colored pencils; sticks in dirt, images on
cave walls would still tell stories. Fingers on the ends of
hands would have to do. To etch in the sand even if only
temporary the emotional trials of mankind.

She sat alone, again. At the edge of the lake. They thought
she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.


NaNoWriMo by Ruchira Khanna

Tara was whisking through the aisle of her home while vigorously rubbing the temples of her head, ‘Sheesh! I need to get Victor moving!’ she mumbled.

‘Creativity…where thy gone?’ she shouted in frustration while plopping on the chair and staring at her computer screen.

‘Nanowrimo you are putting me on the edge!’ she moaned in agitation.

Finally! She took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

Gradually she could feel herself relax and in a few minutes vigorous tapping of the keyboard could be heard from a distance. Her mind thy tool could get the antidote for Victor.


Tools of the Trade by Ann Edall-Robson

It will help with the pain in your fingers. Use the computer. The keyboard will help stretch your hands while writing.

Nothing but a lot of hooey she thought. The screen just stares back at me with no feeling and my hands sit idle on the keys waiting for inspiration.

I like my notebook and pencil. They have texture. They give my words a keepsake home. The stories come alive with my penmanship. Bold and exquisite as the tale unfolds across the soft inviting sheets bound together as one.

Get rid of my pencil and notebook. I think not!


Relic by Norah Colvin

The family shuffled amongst the haphazard collection of primitive artefacts without attempting to disguise disinterest or disdain. The waiting seemed interminable in this “so-last-century” outpost.

“Haven’s seen one of these before,” they’d been told. “I’ll need to order a specialized tool as well as the part. Shouldn’t take long though. Look around while you wait.”

Confidence in the simpleton’s tools “upstairs”, even if the correct parts arrived, was as low as their interest.

“Hey look!” one called. “Is this …?”

“Can’t be.”

“All destroyed centuries ago.”

“Would be worth a fortune though.’’

They opened it.

“A book!” they gasped.


Choice of Tools by Pat Cummings

From the open garage came a resounding clang, followed by a sharp whistle. Roger called from the threshold, “You okay?”

A shock of sandy hair came into view behind a metal tower, then two wide-set blue eyes. “Hey, can you grab that hock spanner for me? I’d get it myself, but I’m kinda tied up here.”

Roger shook himself. “Sure!” He dropped his bike and scanned the array of tools laid out on the workbench. “So which one is the hog spanner?”

A peal of laughter answered. “HOCK spanner, dummy. It’s on the end next to the ball-peen hammer.”


Samaritan by Pete Fanning

Shep dug in, emptying a corner of casserole onto his plate. “Who fixed the front steps, Ma?”

“Oh, so I stumbled on it again today, and this….handyman offered to help. Had his tool belt and all.”

Shep wiped his mouth. “I told you I’d get to it. How much he charge?”

“I offered but he refused.”

Shame hit Shep like heartburn. Rubbing his chest, he released a burp, eyeing the last supper painting on the wall. “So this guy have a name?”

“You know, he never said.” Then, following her son’s gaze, “but he was much darker than that.”


The Necessary Tools by Sarah Brentyn

“Where’s my level?!”

She crouched in front of her son, “You checked your backpack?”

He trembled. “No! It’s not the 43-511 model! I brought the 1794485 pocket model today!” His hands clenched the fabric of his jeans. “That goes. In. My. Pocket!”

“Breathe,” she searched her purse. “One, two…”

“Do not say three!” He threw his bag to the floor. “We need to go home! I won’t make it…”

She pried his fist open, placing a level in his palm.

“It’s not my 1794485,” he tilted it then looked up. “4 inch? 246-D?”


He bit his lip. “Okay.”


Homework by Luccia Gray

‘Can I go out, mum?’

‘Not till you finish your Spanish homework.’

‘Can’t do it. It’s a six-word flash fiction post on the class blog, about homework. In Spanish!’

‘Six words. Sounds simple to me.’

‘How’s your Spanish?’

‘Rusty. I’ll need Google translator. Let me use your Tablet.’

‘No way. All my private conversations keep popping up.’

‘It’s supposed to be a tool for homework, not socializing!’

‘I can do both.’

‘Homework’s due. Tablet’s gone. Detention’s sure.’

‘You can’t do that!’

‘What about this one: Her only tool, a ballpoint pen’

‘You’re joking!’

‘Tablet’s repossessed. Use your head instead.’


Melbourne Cup: Tools of the Trade by Irene Waters

The cloudless blue sky boded well as the day’s favourite was a dry track runner. But who cared about the horses? This was a day for women to parade alongside the horses displaying all the tools of their trade. From a fascinator on the head, matching lipstick and that head-turning dress. The exquisite shoes were unsuitable for walking around a race track, but most of Australia’s women attended functions, participating in sweeps, fashion parades, fascinator contests then when the nation stopped they too would watch the race on television, too sozzled by now to care who was watching them.


Selfie Stick by Larry LaForge

“A what?” Edna looked incredulous.

“It’s a selfie stick,” Ed explained.

“A what?” Edna repeated.

“It’s just a tool to help us take pictures of ourselves.” Ed was ready to click Place Order on his laptop screen.

“Let me get this straight,” Edna continued. “You want to buy a long stick to carry around so we can take pictures of ourselves?”

“It folds up, Edna.”

“So, we unfold a large stick and take a picture of ourselves in front of everyone?”

“Everybody’s doing it, Edna.”

Edna paused. “Well, Ed, I think the world needs fewer selfie sticks, not more.”


Fishing for the Truth by Geoff Le Pard

Mary sat, holding Katherine’s hand. The woman stroked Mary’s fingers. Jerry and Rupert hung back.

Katherine’s 80 year old mother entered the room with a tea tray. Katherine stopped her stroking and clapped her hands. Mrs Potts explained, ‘She loves giving the cups to visitors. The tea is quite cool because she’ll probably spill a little. It’s a good distraction.’

‘You needn’t.’ Mary hated this.

Mrs Potts smiled. ‘We’ve thought about finding out about her background but assumed, you know, given the way she is. Now, where’s the swab. Katherine, open your mouth. I just want a little wipe.’


Future Prince by Charli Mills

Hickok scooped hay with the pitchfork, favoring his stiff shoulder. Sarah watched from the loft, wondering if he knew she and Cobb were above with Miss Boots and her litter. Cobb set aside a closed-eyed kitten and jumped from the rafters into the hay-pile.

Hickok wobbled, dropping the pitchfork.

“Hey, Duck Bill. Never gonna get those horses fed at that rate.” Cobb pretended to tackle Hickok, and then retrieved the pitchfork to finish the chore with speed and strength.

“One day, my arm’s going to heal.”

“Sure it will, Duck Bill. Then you’ll be prince of the pony dung.”


Author’s Note: Another name for Hickok in later years, and the title of Wilstach’s book was, Prince of Pistoleers.


Unraveled by C. Jai Ferry

Earl rolled his rusted-out Ford to a stop in the overgrown lot. He was not a successful man. He was not a doting father, a hardworking employee, or an affable neighbor. He poured vodka in his beer cans and spent his janitor’s paycheck on Pall Malls, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese—the orange glue being the only food his youngest would eat. She’d been buying more when it happened.

Don’t think about what he did to her.

Earl slid the pliers from the glovebox, gripping them until his knuckles turned white. All because of that damned orange glue.


To Trap A Werewolf by Sherri Matthews
Full moon rising, but Ethel had a plan.
“Rabbit pie tonight Luv?” Fred yawned, scratching at his chest
“No, it ain’t…come with me …”
Fred gawped at the large cage in the garage.
“What that’s for then?”
“That beast thingy, wot everyone’s muttering on about, I built it, to catch ‘im, get the reward like.”
Moonlight beamed.
“Gawd, I left the toolbox inside, get it for me will yer?”
Fred poked his fangs, ripped his clothes off and bolted.
“Oi, get back ‘ere or I’ll ‘ave yer guts fer garters!” screeched Ethel, with only a distant howl in reply.

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  1. Sherri

    Never fails to amaze me to read the very different takes on a theme. Another wonderful compilation Charli, thanks again for keeping your fab prompts coming 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I’m always amazed (and delighted), too! Thanks to you all for keeping the stories going around the campfire. 🙂

      • Sherri


    • Sarah Brentyn

      Exactly. Makes for a great read each week.

  2. noelleg44

    I can really relate to South Pawed Defiance – used to be whacked by my third grade teacher for writing with my left hand (taught by nuns through second grade – they were more enlightened).

    • Charli Mills

      That’s so painful, not just physically, but to be denied one’s nature. That flash showed triumph and I hope you found it too in your own south paw endeavors!

      • noelleg44

        Thanks, Charli. I am still a dedicated south paw, but because of that experience have learned to do a number of things with my right hand. For a number of years, I played tennis with both hands, and I bat right handed, played the guitar right handed.

  3. Norah

    Thanks so much Charli. I’ve been slow to catch up this week. Still a few more to go! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for reading!

      • Norah

        Always a pleasure. 🙂

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