Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the sixty-sixth piece in this series. This week’s is a 754-worder by poet, novelist and short story author Ron Chavez.
A Time in the Trees
Back then, living in the middle of a horse pasture in Arroyo Hondo, I lie on the top bunk of my RV and look out my front top window. In the far distance, a threatening heat haze swirls below the timberline of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the west. The sun climbs high with uncommon relentless heat. The birds perched on pine fence posts sing in what seems like wails of unrelenting woe…
Patches of piñion trees stand dead and dried in a dusky brown ugliness in the sloping foothills, contrasting sharply with the heavy parched green of the tall pines in the mountain peaks above. Already a mirage-like heat haze is shimmering down along the ridges, in and out of the trees. What few clouds the magnetic pull deep inside the bowels of the mountains is able to muster, the raging hot winds scatter. Below, the land lays cracked and sun-baked, sucked dry of any hint of moisture. The wild grass withers and yellows in the far-running western llano. Crops wilt to short stubble in the fields. The Taos News reports how two men throw blows over disputed rights to acequia water. One old man is slammed on the side of the head with a shovel when he stands firm and tall in defense of his share of water. Tempers flare. Life long friends fight and argue. The people of the land are at the sharp edge of civil intolerance
The relentless drought is also taking its toll on the fauna. Brown bears, gaunt and stark-eyed slide down from the mountains in a weak, tail dragging gait, scrounging for human garbage, needing to avert the horror of slow starvation.