Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Sunday, May 20, 2012

If I had a Hammer by Joan Baril

This story was first published last year in Northword for their issue on the topic of "sin."

If I Had a Hammer

On the sidewalk, my sister and I leaned against the church hall, listening, waiting for the precise moment. The Sunday school kids inside were singing  Praise God from whom all blessings flow, the hymn that accompanies the collection plate.  At the final notes, we rushed in. Perfect timing. As usual, hardly anyone paid attention.  Just the Marston girls, late again.  So once more, we could keep the nickels our mother had given us for the offering and spend it on candy on the way home.
“Lent is sacrifice,” intoned the Superintendent.  “Give up your sweets, your comic books.” I tuned out to ponder a more pressing question: Jersey Milk or Jersey Nut? 
We argued as far as the corner store but decided on Caramilk, carefully dividing the bar in half.  The first luscious square melted between my teeth, slipping me into chocolate heaven.

But what was this?  My sister was carefully wrapping her portion.  “I’m giving chocolate up for Lent,” she said.

“Good,” I said. “I’ll eat it.”

“No, I’m saving it for Easter.” In our bedroom, I watched her place the Caramilk inside her small dresser drawer, lock it and put the key in her pocket.
“I’ll melt,” I cried. “Go moldy.”

“They don’t go moldy in the store,” she replied. “Or melt.”

Each Sunday, her candy cache increased: half an Oh Henry, a Sweet Marie, a Burnt Almond, another Caramilk.

On Good Friday, no school.  After tobogganing, I came into our bedroom for a book and saw my sister setting out her hoard on our study desk. Five half chocolate bars as fresh as the day they were purchased.

“Is Lent over?” I said.  “How about giving me some?”

“I’m eating them all today. And you’re not getting any. You gobbled your share.” 

“Pretty please,” I whined

“Drop dead, greedy head!” She picked up the Jersey Milk and ever so slowly bit off a square.  “Yum, yum.  Pure chocolate. The best. I do think you’re drooling, Janet. Ha, ha, just another bite for me.  Mmm, delicious.”

“Just one tweeny square,” I begged. 

“Tough teabags,” she said, taking a tiny nibble. “Chocolate is so-ooo perfect for a winter’s day.”  She danced around waving the last square under my nose.

I eyed the four bars on the desk. To snatch one meant war. I glared, feeling my longing turn to rage. 

My dad had been repairing our bookcase and he’d left a few tools behind on a chair.  I snatched up the hammer, turned, and slammed it down on the Caramilk. The satisfying glunk filled me with dark glee. I body-checked my sister out of the way and attacked the remaining bars.  One, two, three: splat, splat, splat.

“I’ll tell!” My sister wailed, shoving and hitting, trying to halt the chocolate massacre.

I was relentless. Bang, slam! “You can’t tell,” I sneered, “because you’d have to explain how you got them.” 

“Girls!” My mother walked in.  She stared at the desk.  “What’s all this?” she said.

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