I am a Hammer (A Short Story)

I am a Hammer
by Pierce Nahigyan

I am a hammer. The cut of air against my silver, the fat of a palm pressed to my shaft, and the crack! tak! crack! as my nose descends and revolves on a simple nail. Mute flatheads never see it coming. I see the air, the wind, hear the sound of it burn against my steel. I see the eyes that hold me; I see the nails to be pounded; and what I like best is the blunt POP of my nose on a solid surface.

I had a damn fine life. I said my prayers every night, and I slept, and though at times I’d be woken for an impromptu dig at a supporting wall, what was that to me? I am a hammer. I live for the challenge. My guiding principle is to believe in the solidity of my composition. I am my Earth, my firmament, my gravity.

If only I had been a daisy! But a daisy is meant to flail helplessly in the wind, not divide it. To live briefly, wither, and decompose, that is the daisy’s lot. I was meant to withstand kinetics!

It had been several years since I had accomplished anything more substantial than an idle tapping on the floorboards. His father was never a great carpenter but he was a man who knew how to wield tools and never bypassed an opportunity to create himself what others merely purchased. For decades since my memory began we were close. Yes, there were other hammers, larger hammers, more specialized hammers. Yet I would go so far as to say his father treasured me, his first. From our initial introduction to the very end he kept me polished and clean, kept me close at all times. I like to think I served him well.

But the son. The son never had the aptitude for honest labor that his father so humbly embodied. Yet I was presented, as a gift, to the progeny. A passing of the torch. I admit the moment was bittersweet. I was honored, but doubtful.

Those doubts proved well founded. I was hardly used, left in an oily box of rags, screwdrivers, and needlenoses. It was many years before I again saw the light of day, or even a garage. I admit that first fresh breath was invigorating. Did the son need me at last? Was there really some piece of furniture, some obstinate picture frame, that required my use? I was slipped into an ordinary paper sack and saw no more. For a curious time I laid blind in that place, pondering as much where we were bound as what I was expected to do.

I found out.

I had dozed off nestled deep within the crisp folds of the brown sack and I was roughly snatched awake and ripped away, bestowed immediate sight, to swing in a wild, high arc, barely clearing a doorframe— A wet snap, a thick, almost melting crack— Then I was pulled away, the momentum monstrous, only to have my inertia returned, pushed, into the crimson splotch I’d made—again—BANG! I felt it all throughout my being. A wild bang. A horrid bang. A wretched, hostile BANG!

The force of the blow, invigorating at first, swiftly disgusted me as my solid nose crackled through a dense outer layer not unlike a stubborn egg shell. The wet, thick blood revolted me. By my second blow I had penetrated to the fluid-soaked brain of that unfortunate girl; her mind gave way and I was sunk deep inside her skull, swimming in her mucous.

It was abominable. I can not describe the guilt, the shock, the downright nastiness of being forced to commit this heinous mutilation of my guiding purpose. But that was not the end of it. No! So very far from it! A teacher followed. And then, who else? What else? What sin am I not guilty of—what crimes still left unpunished? I am a simple tool! I could not do these things freely. All I wanted was to serve a purpose. And that can never be, now.

Now you have me, Exhibit A. I throw myself at the mercy of the court. I consider myself retired, out of service, forever stained within, let alone without, the dried veins of too many innocent lives left on me like sinister graffiti; all to serve towards sentencing that mongrel offspring of my kindhearted patron. I would erase every day of all my many days of hard work and ambition to blot out the memory of these ruthless abominations. Not if I set every nail in the new ark built to preserve the modern world would I be able to abolish my guilt. Not if I hammered in the morning, nor the evening, from here till the day my nose was pounded to a nub of silver sin.

I am an implement of death, the dark legacy of my benefactor’s son, no longer simply a tool but an extension of evil, synonymous with it, henceforth indivisible, Maxwell’s silver hammer.

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