This part was like a Western. Burnt orange desert on either side, the horizon melting in front, sun sizzling the earth. A mirage, she pondered, might appear at any moment. She looked across at the driver. His jaw was naturally set at an almost perfect angle on his right side. The noon sun lit his facial outline; angles illuminated, an aura, she thought, nodding to herself. She knew he could feel her looking at him, at the texture of his cheek, at his long dark lashes, at the pale white sliver of indented skin, that hooked from the base of his right nostril up to the side of his temple; but he continued to look straight ahead, hands on the wheel, eyes on the long empty cracked road.
The air con hummed, the only sound inside the car. Goosebumps crept up his right arm, his field of golden hairs stood erect. She looked down at her own arms, smooth, baby skin, even though it was over three decades old, three decades and five to be exact. Blemish free and porcelain her general complexion.
The kids called her The White Lady. First behind her back and then to her face, but not in a malicious way, just in a stupid sense. One of her regulars, an eight-year old called Benny, who was overdue returning his stack of books, had first said it to her.
‘Sorry eh Miss White Lady but I was slow reading them.’
His frazzled father gasped an apology, she held up her pale palm to stop him and leaned into Benny.
‘It’s ok little squirt. I suspected that was the reason, you being so slow.’
The satnav blinked its route between them. Arrival time in six hours 20mins. After the last gas stop it had instructed continue on straight for 300 miles. That was 50 miles ago. The full contents of her takeaway cup, now cold. Black liquid getting stronger in scent with each mile. The contents of his cup had melted into his bare legs and discoloured his blue shorts and a patch of red throbbed on his thigh.
She raised her arm, extended it, moved it to the left, and then tipped the air con button off. Within seconds heat started to fall into the car. Hot air cloaked her legs, her arms, her face, padded her neck. He didn’t move. Hands on the wheel. Heat never affected her and as long as she applied a vat of SPF cream to her skin year-round, she was always protected and could adequately tolerate it.
A seat shift, a neck rotated, to the left and right, followed by a gentle crackle. An inhale of breath and a slow exhale, his lower lip acting as a pathetic fan to his face. Small rows of water formed on his forehead and increased in size before they tipped out of their individual casings and streamed down his nose, eyes, cheeks, jaw.
Her slender pale index finger rose into the thick air and with eyes closed, she traced his hooked scar from tip to end, in the same motion as when she first made it.
Roisín Browne lives in Rush Co Dublin and her work has appeared in The Galway Review, Flare, A New Ulster, The Gladstone Readings, Poetry N.I., Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, The Stony Thursday Book, MGV Datura and The Crossways Literary Magazine to name a few. She placed third in the Jonathan Swift Writing Awards in 2017 and in 2018 was commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. She has been shortlisted in the Bangor Literary Annual Poetry competition in 2018 and 2019.
well done on your... Flash fiction.