'Poking the Beast with a Stick' by Emmaleene Leahy
Where time was measured by season and crop rotation, the turning of months in a year, the meaning of hands revolving around numbers is replaced by a serrated metal blade to tear open cans. Now, time is measured out in tins of soup and beans and pineapple slices.
The sun glints from his corrugated roof. Alone in our galvanised existence, I haven’t seen movement for a while now.
The shimmering air vibrates with forgotten ghosts, apple trees, acorns, bluebell, buttercup, cowslip, dandelion, heather and ivy. Rich fertile land now a barren desert.
Whole village wiped out, only us two left. All my fault; my blunder in the nuclear waste plant. He was my boss; a bit grumpy now irreversibly venomous. I know not to knock on his door. He’d shoot me with his old blunderbuss, leave me walking around with guts in my hands like dirty washing.
Need to check if he’s alive. After relentless unrest, nail-biting, pacing, I risk it.
Sand swirls on the wind, howling gusts whirl, whip, trudging crunch of sand beneath feet. I throw a rock at his window. A web of cracks emanate from the point of impact.
A sudden burst erupts, zing of metal severs the sky. Danger in the present tense.