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July 1: Flash Fiction Challenge
Man, it’s a hot one
Like seven inches from the midday sun
Well, I hear you whispering in the words, to melt everyone
But you stay so cool
My muñequita, my Spanish Harlem, Mona Lisa
You’re my reason for reason
The step in my groove.
~ Santana, “Smooth”
This ain’t Spanish Harlem and I’m nobody’s muñequita, but if it continues to be hot as Hades in northern Idaho I’m going to take off my clothes and bathe in the garden hose outside. I don’t care whose grandparents are driving by in air conditioned Winnebagos or if the logging truckers choke on their bottled pop. I told my neighbor of my plans and she responded, mortified and modest, that no one would want to see her if she did that, implying no one would want to see me. Well, granted, my husband would leer and most others jeer, but as I told her it’s not about how I look, it’s how I feel.
And right now I feel hot enough to hose off naked.
A record-breaking heat wave sizzles across the west and sucks the very moisture from the air like a dragon inhaling. I’m a whimp. I can’t take the heat. It makes me cranky as a range cow; watch out, I’ll kick if you come too close.
I know a computer puts off heat, but in this cooker-once-my-house I’m near to getting blisters on my fingertips from tapping at my keyboard. The thermometer on the porch picks up the afternoon direct sun and records 111 degrees Fahrenheit. What the blazes? This is the Pacific Northwest known for temperate summers. Even the clover has browned to a crisp and peat most is dry as bone dust!
Don’t get me started on trees and forest fires. Already one burns 200 miles southwest of us in Wenatchee, Washinton where people have lost homes. Only eight miles from where I grew up in Markleeville, California a huge fire has raged for almost two weeks and still remains 60 percent contained. This very place where I live was once ravaged by the 1910 forest fires. I hold my breath when the air turns hot, dry and deadly.
With the Hub and dogs, we take to the mountains and search for relief, escaping the heat. It’s not until the second day that we find access to the Moyie River not far from Canada.
The first day we find Grouse Creek crowded (as in all five camping spots and fishing turnouts occupied). We stop at an overhang and after much internal debate — do I dare, do I not dare — I jump off a ledge into the creek. I dared and I cooled off, though the Hub had to help me get back out.
The third day we grew brave and returned to the Pack River. I bobbed in the golden glow of sunset that reflected on the river’s surface. Yesterday, I officed in the air conditioning of Starbucks. Today, it is tolerable and I drink cold well water and Arnie Palmers.
While cooling off in the Moyie River we were among others seeking respite. Like a voyeur I watched a couple soak in a rocky river pool, smoking and drinking beer. She wore a bikini and they both were comfortable in each other’s presence. In a busy world, the hottest thing a couple can do is just “be” together. Just hang out, cool off, talk or enjoy silence in unity.
I watch the Hub cast and take careful steps on slippery rocks. The dogs tangle their leashes like a nest of vipers, but I’m not letting either one go run with the bears. My ankles are submerged in the cool flow and my bloodstream sooths. I film my fly-fisherman of 27 years and he flicks his line at me, ever the two-year-old in men’s clothing. I don’t mind. We’re together, I’m cool and that’s hot enough for me.
July 1, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the phrase, “Man, it’s a hot one.” You can choose a gender neutral replacement for the slang, “man” or any other general address. The phrase can lead, end or show up in the middle of the story. If the prompt leads you to a creative idea to alter the phrase, do it! And stay cool this week!
Respond by July 7, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!
Facing the Heat by Charli Mills
“Woo-doggies! It’s a hot one!” Carl’s voice crackled across the transmitter.
Lucy maneuvered the tribal fire-engine up the winding Forest Service Road toward thick clouds surging above a fresh lightning strike. The vehicle lumbered over backcountry rocks like a tank. It didn’t carry much water, but she could rig a pump to the lake.
“Lucy! You gonna evacuate those campers?”
“Roger that, Carl. Might bring you water, too.”
“Stealin’ your granny’s garden hose again?”
Lucy grinned. The radio crackled louder.
“Sounds like Canada Rail coming over the peak…”
Carl retreated beneath his bulldozer. He didn’t survive the sudden firestorm.
Author’s note: Firestorms are one of many dangers faced by wildland firefighters who are often summer workers or even volunteers from multiple agencies, some federal, some local. A firestorm creates its own violent drafts that sound like a freight train engine. They burn so hot so fast that nothing survives its heat.