Working on future varicose veins, perspiration trickled down cramping legs to saturated socks. Sweat filled gloves flicked endless beads of moisture from her sweat-rashed brow.
This her latest summer job. Not the worst she’d done. But in her top three.
The shed was a pressure cooker. It’s corrugated doors were wide open to view the red dust swirl and where some breeze made it inside to brush dust against slickened skin peeking from sticky clothing.
Hands fumbled in oversized gloves to stop orange staining fingers. Unlike the regulars with carrot-coloured digits and their hardened nails that didn’t chip at the vegetable parade that passed slower than commercial breaks during a mini-series finale.
She glanced at the other women, the regulars. The floor manager with her flash of jewellery that poked through her gloves talking of her next shopping expedition. The older ladies spoke of the Queen’s birthday celebrations and the dying art of millinery. There was lots of food talk peppered with that dreaded adult word ‘diet. Old-school music sucked. How talk-back radio cornered the unceasing conversation that competed with the cacophony of conveyor belts, forklifts, and incoming truck traffic.
And at day’s end, the machines and stereo switched-off, the women departed in dusty droves, leaving her with a broom in hand she eyed the abandoned shed. And that was the summer she learnt to appreciate the word ‘silence’.