Page 67 - Litteratteur Redefining World December issue
P. 67

Litterateur redefining world                      December 2020

              Roberto had singed the hair on the back of his hands in the blaze. He inspected
              them now in the morning light. They were almost free of the dark mat that usually
              covered them. Pretty hands, he thought, almost like a girls. Then he smiled, A big
              girl though.

              In the stillness Roberto smelt something, something had been burnt. He held his
              fingers to his nose, expecting that the smell came from them, lingering from the
              fire the day before. No, nothing. They are clean. Then he sniffed again. He hadn’t
              imagined it. Something was burning.

              Roberto emerged from his bedroom half-dressed, snatching at clothes in his rush.
              The smell intensified as he moved through the house, the morning light coming in
              from the windows a shade of amber.

              Then he saw it and swore. He didn’t notice what language came through his lips.

              The sun was perched low in the morning sky. A plume of smoke ballooned up from
              the vineyard. The vines were alight, tongues of flames catching and leaping from
              row to row as if they were alive, running along lines on the ground to ignite and
              burn everything. The inferno intensified and increased in the nascent summer heat.
              Through  the  smoke  and  flame  he  could  see  the  truck,  parked  far  from  the
              farmhouse, next to the gates. A figure leant against it, arms folded. He could see

              him through the smoke, the boy whose throat he had slashed. Then Roberto knew
              what  he  had  done,  what  had  happened.  While  he  slept  William  had  moved  the
              truck, doused the vines in diesel, set them alight as dawn broke. The vines were
              gone, there would be no way to extinguish the fire. If he was lucky he might be able
              to save the buildings and the farmhouse, but maybe not. The fire was burning clear
              lines to the machinery shed, the pressing room. They flames could run and run.

              William  watched  Roberto  from  the  other  side  of  the  inferno.  The  summer  light
              picked out Roberto’s face through the smoky murk, but it was too far to see the
              expression on the man’s face. The white smoke ascended to the heavens. William
              climbed up into the truck, started it. It would be difficult to drive down the rutted
              road  to  town  with  a  broken  arm,  but  he  thought  he  could  manage  it.  His  hands
              stank of the fuel he had used to ignite the fire, but it was a sweet smell, better than
              the smoke that funnelled into wide open blue sky, towards the sun.

              He began to pick his way back down the hill, slowly and carefully steering around
              the dangers he met.

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