Flash Fiction: Heat Wave

In waking moments, she dreamt of only blue skies. A rolling summer like the hills on her bedsheets. Time still to share with the body carving a shape into the right side of her mattress. Sun forever blinking out from between tree leaves that cast shadows on her wall. A bee knocking its head on the inside of her window. She wanted it like that always. So when September came, the sun stayed. They opened the curtains to blue skies every day. A summer just for them— that’s what they said to each other between kisses. Caught in traffic on the way to the beach, they opened the sunroof and turned the engine off, drinking in the heat. They laughed as she applied sun cream in slathers on his shoulders. They bathed in the bath of the sea. They slept with windows open, stared out at the ocean of a sky. They shared secrets long into the shimmering, still nights. Their bodies still intertwined well past sunrise. An October sun came and remained. He closed the curtains against the sun then, he wanted to shut it out. He would lie there, hot and bothered, his slick back to her. And when the sun cream splattered his scorched skin again he didn’t laugh. She frowned. The sun hung there like a single spotlight in the blue sky, rising but never falling. She saw him less. He said something about the nights being too hot for two. She reached for the cool side of his pillow. The shape he once carved into her mattress became an empty cavern she could roll, fall, be dragged down into. Children trick- or-treated beneath the same blue sky, chocolate bars melted between their sticky, greedy fingers. Pumpkins looked strange on people’s doorsteps, their insides released a putrid stench and attracted flies. November saw tempers and temperatures soar. It could never be one way forever. He told her again and again. Tears evaporated in the heat of the sun. Bees became woozy. Plants wilted, parched and dying of thirst. December was the hottest on record. Her egg white skin now scalded and sore to the touch. Christmas Day she sat sweltering in her garden, a lone roast dinner going cold on the kitchen counter. Sat by an oscillating fan, she drank alone for the countdown, a square of blue TV light for a companion. Weather forecasters told everyone to get ready for the January blues. She lay beneath the blue night sky, restless, agitated, cursing the reflected rays of a sun that refused to burn out. Her bed sheets soaked with puddles of sweat, she slept alone and dreamt of the rain.

Brooke West lives in Norwich, England where she is a fourth-year American and English Literature student at the University of East Anglia. Her work has previously been published in the Spring 2019 issue of High Point University's bi-annual magazine: Apogee. She can be found on Twitter at @ekoorbwest