The sun beat down from on high as Melvin selected a very crooked stick from the pile. It fit how he felt that morning. He turned it this way and that before nodding and sitting on the old stump. The remains of the old oak tree fit his backside perfectly after a little wiggling to get comfortable.
He pulled out his eight-inch bowie knife and began to whittle. He prided himself that he could slowly peel away the bark from tip to stern with one long stroke, turning the piece of wood a little at a time. Soon the twig was naked. He threw it on top of the shavings in front of him and picked up the next stick, sizing it up before doing the ritual once again. The motions came quicker and more assured, the shakes that plagued him that morning seemingly evaporating under his meticulous gaze.
The sun waved goodbye as it lowered itself below the tree line. Mabel would be home soon, wondering what Melvin had been doing all day. He chuckled as he pulled out his Zippo and flicked it to life. Where he applied the fire the flame doubled, then tripled. Soon his labor from that day was ablaze in glory, a burnt offering to his troubled soul.
As for Mabel, he would just make up the usual story about fishing or some such this way she wouldn’t worry herself none. He put away his lighter, cleaned and sheathed his knife, and began to tunelessly whistle as he ambled home, the smoke swirling around him with its pleasing aroma.