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Not Gary Paulsen's Hatchet, Ashy Blacksheep

Jacob and I

used every utensil and tool

in our father's garage

at least twice

though likely never once

for its intended purpose.

And so it was

with the hatchet.

It felt top heavy to me.

"It's supposed to be like that,"

Jacob says

and demonstrates

raising the hatchet high

and letting it fall

with an easy downward stroke.

The little axe head rested

in some scrap wood

and wrested free again

without rattling loose.

For that, we took it with us

from the garage.

We wouldn't use it

to chop firewood

shave kindling from bark

or strike a stone face to spark a fire.

No, Jacob held it halfway

up its handle, hacking

at the outer back corner of the garage

where he spied a black widow

who so boldly let herself be spied

and he tried to destroy her

destroying only her home

which was always

temporary digs at best

to her.

No, we took the hatchet

to the top of the hill

took turns taking cracks

at the trunk of a young tree

which was bigger around

than Jacob's bicep

making it no more a sapling than he.

It took us days to cut it down

where it had taken our whole lives

to grow that big

and we did it

just because

we could.

We stole an oversized

Teletubby doll

Po the red and small

from our pseudo stepsister

and took it too

to the top of the hill

where the tree once grew

and we used the rusty hatchet

to decapitate it.

Maybe we were just bad

at chopping

but eventually there was just one

shred of polyester

holding the Teletubby together.

Jacob and I took turns

holding the head and body apart

and using the hatchet

like the world's shittiest

shortest handsaw.

At dusk we'd done it

and decided we'd bury

the two halves separately

under tomorrow's sun

at the top of the hill.

For the night

we'd put away the hatchet

stash the Teletubby parts.

The following day

we grabbed up rickety shovels

retrieved the Teletubby remains

and we brought the hatchet too.

It was just as much a part

of the dismemberment

as we were.

We spent the day scouting

burial plots, ones we could find again

to revisit and remember.

Once decided, we dug

‘til again it was dusk.

We said some words over it

before collapsing his stuffing

with dirt.

We comforted Po

letting him know

he likely wouldn't be missed

that no one would notice he was gone

and we had such a good time

hacking him apart

we nearly pissed our pants


But then we still had the hatchet

and for some reason

we didn't feel right having it.

I handed it to Jacob

who smashed the axe head

on a rock until

the hatchet’s neck broke too

and we threw the blade

in the pit with Po's face

and the handle

with Po's body

knowing somehow

it wouldn't be missed either.


Ashy Blacksheep is a writer, veteran, and undergraduate senior studying Literature and Creative Writing. Having grown up nomadic, traveled the world with the Navy, and adventuring on with her husband and two cats, Ashy fuels her writing with life experiences and introspection. Find her musings on Twitter and Instagram @ashyblacksheep

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