Working on a future set of 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 it was in her top three.
The shed was a pressure cooker. Its corrugated doors were wide open to view the red dust swirl. It was only a teaser for the scant breeze that dared enter to brush dirt 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 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 flashy jewellery poking out beyond her gloves, nattered endlessly over her next shopping expedition. The older ladies spoke of the Queen’s birthday celebrations and the dying art of millinery. Food-talk was consistent, peppered with that dreaded adult word Diet.
Old-school music sucked. It all sounded the same after a while, if not brutalized by someone reliving their Karaoke days. But it was talk-back radio that was king. It was the cornerstone of the never-ending squawking that competed with the cacophony of conveyor belts, forklifts, and incoming truck traffic.
And at the day’s end, when the machines and stereo were switched-off, the women departed in dusty droves. Left behind, with a broom in hand, she eyed the abandoned shed.
And that was the summer she learnt to appreciate the word ‘silence’.