6IXTY contains minute-long short stories, written to satisfy an internal itch. Fleeting thoughts shared for easy, simple consumption.

Farmer's Tan

John looked up at the sky. Up at the sun. He tried to discern the time by reading the position of the sun. He didn't know the time. It was 12:06 pm.

John wiped at his brow with a tattered red cloth from his pocket. There were no clouds, not one. It was hot; the air had a heartbeat. A pulsing warmth that seemed to breathe.

John adjusted his old jeans around his waist. Pulling at the cuffs of his gloves, he was glazed in sweat and his hands felt underwater. There should have been a cleansing that came with this much sweat.

John plunged the tip of the shovel into the ground. There was a hollowed, scraping sound. Maybe not a scrape, since this was more like a thrusting jolt to each stroke. An acceleration and a stop. A stab and a slow lift. The dirt slid off, tossed into a pile. Again and again. There is a rhythm to hard work.

John thought of ice water. He heard ice cubes gently tingling in a tall glass in his mind.

John had been digging for what felt like hours. He was tired and sore. Beads of his sweat were pulled back into the Earth.

Manual labor builds and improves character. It can heal the soul. John didn't feel that, not yet anyway. He ached. He could feel his heart pounding in his ears.

John checked his wrist. The crystal on his watch was broken. Splintered, making the watch's hands near impossible to see clearly. Not that it mattered, he forgot that his watch stopped working what felt like a few hours ago.

John looked up at the sky. Up at the sun. It was hot. He closed his eyes. He drew in a long breath through his nose and he exhaled through his mouth. He pulled in another long breath. Another.

John opened his eyes. He couldn't tell what time it was. It was hot. He looked again at his broken watch. 

John still could not see through the broken crystal, but his watch read 12:06 pm.

John looked up at the sky. But it's not there.

Crescent Moon