Flash Fiction: Red Earth

A short story by Laurie Theurer*

“C’mon Mike, kick it here!” Dad hopped from foot to foot, primed to receive and bend it back.

Mike kicked at a colossal clump of packed dirt instead. It pulverized into a copper cloud on impact. Cool.

Earth was his Native American name; Mahkah, the name his mother gave him. The name his father never used. His mother was one-quarter Lakota. That made Mahkah one-eighth.

Mahkah. Earth.

“Mike, get the damn ball! Are we playing or not?”

“Not!” shouted Mahkah, turning away. Red dust billowed as he dropped onto the dirt of the vacant lot.

“How’re you ever going to improve if you don’t practice? Let’s go, Mike!”

I’m not like you, thought Mahkah, scratching patterns into the baked soil with his finger. It sucks to be me and you have no clue.

Mahkah’s bony legs cracked as he crossed them Indian-style. He snuck a peek at his father, standing tall and blonde by the chain link fence, fists on hips, bulging quads shining in the Arizona sun.

“Mike, act your age … get up and get the freaking ball.”

Mahkah offered his father his darkest warrior glare, silently wishing that twelve were old enough for a real tomahawk.

Dad jogged over to the ball, slammed it with his brand new Adidas, sending it hurtling in Mike’s direction. It smashed into the back of his dark head, driving his face into the brick-colored dirt. The ball bounced off into the main road.

Mahkah sneezed up a clump of dusty rust-colored snot and wiped it on his wrist. As he rose, he imagined what it would be like to scalp a man, to hold up his blonde and silver prize, to admire the colors flooded with the blood-red sunset.

“Oh, Mike … I … I’m …” started Dad, standing over him, blocking out the setting sun, throwing Mike into his huge shadow.

Mahkah broke away, escaping the shadow, sprinting towards the ball, kicking up crimson clouds, clutching the invisible scalp in his fist, staring directly into the sunset like a true Lakota, mistaking the black Subaru for a free roaming bison.


*Shortlisted, Flash Fiction Competition, Fish Publishing, 2016

Author: Libby O'Loghlin

Novelist, social entrepreneur, nutrition and narrative coach. Creative Director of The Woolf Quarterly; Co-Founder of WriteCon and The Powerhouse Zurich. Nature is my jam.

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