Parched

The heat was stifling as the hands-on Josie’s watch slowly clicked over to midday. It had been week after week of this heat, and it was showing no signs of cooling down. Reaching up behind her, she let her hair out of the ponytail, her sandy brown hair fell in loose curls, resting just below her shoulders. Running her fingers through it, she shook it out. She let the leaves that had tangled themselves in it float to the ground around her before she pulled it back into a loose bun at the back of her head. Even though she loved her job on her family farm, it was a dirty job with long hours.

Only this morning, she had been woken up at the crack of dawn by her brother, Jasper, informing her that Maisey, had gone into second stage labour. Ninety minutes later, Maisey’s second calf had been born. Afterwards she had gone on to feed their chickens and their other animals. For the past hour, she had been trying to track down one of their sheep that had gotten out of the pen at some point that morning, she was pretty sure Jasper had left the gate open briefly but she couldn’t know for sure. A stray root she hadn’t seen resulted in her tumbling over.

Eventually, she the sheep and lead it back to the paddock and locked it in with its brethren before she slowly made her way back to the farmhouse that they called home. It was an early 20th-century house that was a few kilometres away from any kind of paved road. While they weren’t close to the nearest town, she enjoyed it out here.

Using her feet, she kicked off the well worn and dirty boots that she wore around the farm, before using her left arm to push open the door. As it closed behind her she let out a sigh of relief as the cool air from the air conditioner they had installed the previous summer, after their last one had died, hit her. Jasper must have already been back in the house.

Moving into the kitchen, she shrugged off the flannel shirt that she had been wearing and was about to head to the fridge to find something to eat when she felt arms wrap around her waist and a face buried itself into the crook of her shoulder. Glancing down, she grinned in surprise as she realised who it was. She hadn’t realised that Gina had returned from her parent’s place. Then there was the fact she had managed to sneak up on her.

She moved her hands down and carefully pried Gina’s hands off her just enough so that she could turn around in the other woman’s embrace. Reaching up, she tucked a stray bit of hair behind Gina’s ear, smiling softly as she did so. “Hey gorgeous,” she breathed before she leaned in to kiss her girlfriend tenderly on the lips. They were cracked and tasted like the strawberry chapstick that Gina loved. “I missed you. When did you get back?” she asked after she pulled back from the kiss.

“ Only about five minutes ago, actually. Jasper let me in before he disappeared back out again. I dropped my bag in our room and came right back down as you came in,” Gina replied.

“Well, I’m glad. I was about to make lunch. Did you want anything? You can tell me all about your visit with your parents,” Josie replied grinning flirtatiously at Gina.

“A sandwich would be wonderful, actually,” she replied with a grin, “and some water too for that matter. I’m incredibly thirsty,” she replied with a small smile.

“Sure. Vegemite and cheese okay with you? I need to go shopping, we haven’t got much in the pantry,” Josie asked.

“Sounds good.” .

Passing Gina some water, she soon joined her girlfriend at the table with a sandwich for both of them.

They sat in silence for a while, before Gina sighed and looked over at Josie. “You know how we were talking about that I think I might be trans? I think I want to try presenting in a more masculine way for a while before I start transitioning. So they/them pronouns for now?” she asked softly.

“Of course, whatever makes you happy and is comfortable for you. I love you, not your body. So they/them it is. Do you still want to go by Gina?” Josie asked.

“For now, yes. I think. I’ll let you know if I change my mind?”

“Deal,” Josie smiled at her partner, “I’ll be with you no matter what.”

“Thank you, Josie,” Gina said with a smile incredibly grateful that Josie was so accepting of the situation. She knew not everyone would have been, unfortunately. “How’re things here? I noticed the land is cracking from the heat and lack of rain.”

“Just as bad as it was before you left The animals are struggling and while we have hay it’s just getting more and more expensive. We’re making do, for now. The farm next door had some animals die recently just from the lack of water. We’ve been lucky so far but,” she paused. “It’s hard. The grounds literally singing out for rain at the moment and if this dry spell doesn’t break… I don’t know what we’ll do,” Josie admitted, looking down at her sandwich. “We’ve been on this farm for generations. It’s hard to imagine us not being here, but it’s looking more and more likely that we’ll have to sell up and have the land subdivided. Jasper and I are determined to go as long as we can but…” she trailed off and shrugged, frowning slightly.

“I understand. It’s your home, hell it’s more mine than where I live. Then again as cheesy as it is that’s cause you’re here so…. Wherever you are I’ll more than happily follow.”

The two of them drifted off into a comfortable silence before Josie looked up at what sounded like a… “Is that thunder?” she asked sitting up in surprise. She barely dared to hope, but a small flicker lit up in her chest as she met Gina’s eyes before she stood up.

“Sounds like it,” Gina said, rising from their chair and making their way to a window, following Josie. “Skies grey so it probably is. Hopefully, it means rain’s coming.” Just as Gina finished speaking, the sky split open and rain started bucketing down.

“Come on!” Josie said laughing, a smile splitting her face as she grabbed Gina’s hand and pulling them outside to the verandah, spinning them around in a delightful circle. “God that feels so much better. Let’s just hope it’s enough to break the drought.”

“Let’s hope so,” Gina said pulling Josie into their arms and hugging her tight while the two of them just stood there and watched the storm roll across the skies in front of them.