Summer of Silence

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 was 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, a tease to the scarce breeze that dared enter to brush against slickened skin below sticky clothing.

Hands fumbled in oversized gloves to stop orange staining fingers. Unlike the regulars, with their 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 floor manager, with her flashy jewellery, nattered endlessly about 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 the 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 learned to appreciate the word ‘silence’.

The Local Driver

She parked in front of the local Police Station. Jumped out the driver’s seat with a skip in her step, and smiled at the intermittent shine amongst the dented rusted panels that made up most of the farm ute.

Today was the day.

She wiped sweaty palms on her skirt. Her stomach churned as she pulled the heavy glass door open and stepped inside.  Bleach, urine, and stale air bit at her sinuses forced her to wince. She jumped at the thwack from the closing door behind her.

On the other side of the front counter, the Sergeant arched his eyebrow at her, with his glasses balanced on the end of his nose. ‘You’re wearing a dress.’

With wide smile, chin up, she smoothed out the cotton floral. ‘I know. And it’s not even Sunday.’

‘You here to pay for your parking tickets?’

Her mouth twisted the side, screwing up her nose. ‘I’ve got none.’ She hoped.

‘Well, the neighbours have been silent on that front. Your school hasn’t called me, and there’s none of your family asleep in the drunk-tank for you to drive ’em home. So, why are you here annoying me? What did you do?’ He asked, lowering his head as his frown deepened.

She gulped air. ‘Nothing—’

Yet.’

‘I ah, um…’ She frowned, teething on her bottom lip.

‘Young lady, I’m a busy man, spit it out.’

She smiled wide and said, ‘it’s my birthday today, and I’m now of the legal age to apply for my Driver’s license.’

(250 words)

 

FROM MOVING MOMENTS

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The Nature Show

My shoes sink slightly towards the gravelly edge of a red muddy beach. It’s where the bitumen road disappears under the floodplain giving life to this red-dust riddled land. The water mirrors the early morning’s azure blue sky, casting the illusion of an inland sea saturating the wilderness. Where, like a tattered crochet blanket, contrasting plates of green water lilies and beads of white, pink, and purple flowerheads open to greet the sun’s new day.

The scene was so serene at first glance.

But on closer inspection…

Chaotic.

Imagine a musical Broadway production going through its final preparations before the show begins. Showgirls, dashing between costume changes are the bright colourful Rainbow Lorikeets and Ring-necked Parrots darting across the water. Egrets stretch their legs like perfectly poised ballet dancers. And looking every bit the musical Conductor overseeing his orchestra in a rich navy plumage is the statuesque Jabiru wading on the water’s edge.  There is a low humming of instruments being fine-tuned by the assorted bugs and beetles, as the Choir warms individual choruses via differing fly-by flocks. Lastly, the hidden stage technicians lurk beneath the water, being the Crocodiles, Barramundi, and long-neck turtles that silently direct stage props and actors to their places.

 I  flick my fishing lure into the water where the road disappears into this tropical oasis that only occurs a few months of the year. Standing there, as the sun creeps higher as the only spectator, I can’t help but enjoy the show.

(250 words)