Sun Burning Melon

Awoken by a slap to the face, Sam winced at the fierce sunlight with his body buried up to his chin in dirt. ‘What the—’ Sam’s heart pounded, unable to move. Lungs, mouth, nose and eyes were filling with choking red dust.

‘Bout time you woke up,’ said Ren, squatting down in front of Sam.

 ‘Ren, let me out!’

‘Why? When it took me hours just to getch’ya in there.’

‘You’ve had your fun. Now, take your photos and drag me out of ‘ere.’ Spying Ren’s ute with a small fuel container close by, realising they were in Ren’s backyard. Which was anywhere to nowhere. ‘You’re hurting me.’ Sam struggled to get free, but the earth just gripped tighter.

‘Bulldust!’ Ren leaned in closer to the buried male. ‘You’re in no pain. I know you’re not.’

I can’t breathe.’ Sam heaved in the hot air, tasting the outback’s dust.

‘You’ve been peacefully nappin’ these past coupla hours in that hole.’

‘Why are you doing this? You swore to our mother on her death bed last week that you wouldn’t hurt me.’

‘That I did. An’ I honour me promises. Unlike you, bro.’ Ren messed up Sam’s hair. ‘Ya know, as a kid, you had that look of them cherubs, with ‘em puffy cheeks an’ blonde curls. Now, you look like a sunburnt melon. But this is me, keeping my end of the bargain.’ Raising himself upright, Ren reached for the fuel canister.

‘Get me out of here Ren,’ Sam pleaded, struggling to free himself.

Ren poured fuel onto the red dirt that evaporated into fumes from the burning sun. Coming full circle, he keenly surveyed the endless flat Australian desert. Satisfied they were alone, he pulled out a box of matches from his shirt pocket and a plastic spoon he tossed to land in front of Sam’s face. ‘You can dig yourself out if you want? But you’ll wanna be quick about it.’

Striking a match, Ren threw the small flame onto the fuel-soaked ground. Flames burst upwards surrounding Sam’s head with hundreds of trapped ants that scrambled towards him.

Ren, don’t do this!

‘It’s already done ‘n dusted.’ Ren watched the circle of flames burn towards the talking head trapped in the desert. ‘As promised, I’m not gonna hurt ya. But the wildlife might?’

The intense heat from crackling flames closed in, panicked ants crawled onto Sam’s neck and face, clambering into his nose, his ears and hair. Their bites stinging, making their way down his body. ‘Please Ren, I’m begging.’

Ren watched the ants move like a suffocating black blanket to swarm all over Sam. ‘‘I’ve kept my promise to our mum to not harm a hair on ya’ head. But I also promised Dad on his deathbed that when mum died—you’d die for bein’ the freeloader who was never his son.’

 

from the flash fiction collection, HOME SWEET—NOT.

Home Sweet Not - by Mel A Rowe

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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’.

It came in the mail

“Tommyyyyyyy,” hollered the housekeeper from the front door.

“Stop ya bellowin’,” his boots echoed on the wooden floorboards. “What, woman?”

“This came in the mail, got proper paperwork  everythin’.” She passed the envelope and pointed outside.

Tommy opened the packet, his eyes darted across the pages, then flicked to the open doorway. His frown deepened as his jaw locked tight.

“What’s it say?”

He cleared his throat, licked his lips, and stepped forwards, mumbling, “It’s time to stop being the villain of this tale.”

“What does that mean?”

“What do you have to say for yourself, boy?”

“Hello, father.”

 

(100 words)

 

from the flash fiction collection HOME SWEET ~ NOT!

HSN TW2

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