There’s No Place Like Home

Tokyo Google Maps screen capture

Tokyo Google Maps screen capture

Tokyo was everything that Iowa wasn’t. It was why he’d come.

Tokyo was civilized, urban, occupied and vibrant. Tokyo was vertical where Iowa was horizontal. Tokyo was fast where Iowa was slow.

He loved the ever-present crush of people, the novelty of towering over a crowd at the subway stop, the ease of talking to pretty girls eager to practice their English on the drawling American—who was maybe not so handsome by Mississippi Valley High School standards.

He’d come eleven months and twenty-eight days ago—hopped on the plane the day after graduation. Landed a job right away and was making a decent living teaching English at the junior college a short subway’s ride away.

But back in Iowa it was June—the month of a million greens, when the vast bowl of the Midwest becomes the Emerald City of growing things. And suddenly, intensely, completely: he missed it so.

150 words

 

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click the blue button:

Phoning it in a little this week. My teenage son is in the hospital with mono, strep, influenza and pneumonia, plus a few accompanying complications. We’re on day four. And all I can think is: there is no place like home. And why do hospitals wake sick people up every 45 minutes?

PS J Hardy Carroll please excuse the use of the word ‘suddenly’. 😉 Got my adverbs on, eh?

Renovación

Renovacion, Mexico City, Mexico

Renovacion, Mexico City, Mexico

Antonio got there early.

“You’re in luck,” bossman said. “Today we got a load from Texas. We can use you.”

It was two hundred pesos a day. A fortune, compared to his father’s factory job.

Inside, a woman showed Antonio how to pry the precious metals from the motherboards, how to free the veins of copper from their insulated sleeves, and how to cover his mouth with his t-shirt when hammering apart the screens.

“See how nothing is wasted?” she’d said and then she coughed into a curled fist.

At dark, bossman came back and counted out the bills. “You party big tonight,” he chuckled. “Come back tomorrow.”

The woman waited until bossman was gone and tugged at Antonio’s sleeve. “Don’t listen to him. He keep you here til you choke on a lung. Be smart. Save money. A year or two of this, and you can leave Renovacion for good.”

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click below:

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When I randomly landed upon this location for Pegman, I had no idea what it was. I wondered at the tarp-covered stacks of debris, and after a bit of research learned that this is where mountains of discarded electronics go to be recycled. You can learn more in this great article by Michael Smith:

In This Mexico City Neighborhood, Life Revolves Around E-Waste

He Could No Longer Trust the Mailman

Photo Prompt © Roger Bultot

Photo Prompt © Roger Bultot

 

There were only three people Clem trusted: the mailman, the kid from the pharmacy who delivered his meds and the lady in 3B.

He was so close to cracking it—the whole thing. Very much near uncovering the underlying conspiracy behind all of it.

From the window, he looked back over his shoulder and tried to decide if one could see it from the street: Clem’s careful collage of post-its, news clippings and abandoned receipts. Because just now he’d caught the mailman LOOKING UP.

Clem turned back: their eyes met. Some knowing passed.

He could no longer trust the mailman.

100 words

This has been an edition of Friday Fictioneer, hosted by the wonderful Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo prompt courtesy Roger Bultot.

To read more flash fiction inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button.

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I post this rather sheepishly, because the last fictioneer piece I posted, I did not get around to commenting/replying/reading as I would’ve like. Thanks for reading. I aim to do better this go-around.

Du er norsk

Screen capture of photo sphere by Oskar W. Kristensen

Screen capture of photo sphere by Oskar W. Kristensen

 

He’d said a lot of things while we were growing up.

He’d told us men were born of trees, and that the world had ended five times since Musepell. Once in ice, once in plague, once in wind, and twice in fire. We’d thought him proud and more than just a little mad.

“You’re never beaten,” he’d say, when we’d whine about losing. He’d pound his fist on the table. “Du er norsk.”

 

And then the cruise in my fiftieth year: Grandfather was long in his grave, so far from his homeland. We crossed the ocean, to finally see the land he’d spoken of. A land of ghosts and giants and trolls, of winter-long night—where the resurrection god danced light upon a glacier-frayed shoreline, where the undefeatable city rose anew from ash and loss.

And now that I’ve seen Hammerfest, I’d have to say: the old man was right.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. This week’s location was suggested by Alicia over at Up From the Ashes. To read more flash fiction inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click the froggy button:

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Ms. Hope

Urban St., Buffalo NY

Urban St., Buffalo NY

“Ms. Hope says I got potential.”

“Potential,” the old man spat. He tossed the picture back.

Mama stroked my shoulder in that way she did that used to make the world go smooth. “Don’t you listen to him. Ms. Hope is right.”

He just snorted.

I studied the drawing again, squinting closer. I tried to imagine what Ms. Hope had seen. I could see now all the places I’d erased, where I’d rubbed the paper raw. How dumb to think it was special. I started to crumple it.

Mama eyed me. “Here I thought Ms. Hope was right. But you’re not special.”

I looked at her, surprised.

She shook her head. “You’d throw your potential away based on what others say? That’s not special.”

The old man stared at the broke-down Chevy in the drive and shook his head.

I pulled the paper back and made it smooth.

148 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:

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This week’s prompt plunged me into a rabbit of research. Murder under the tracks maybe? Or a body in a vacant lot snagged from this week’s headlines (blocks away, as a matter of fact)? But then I stumbled upon a nearby school, run by an actual Ms. Hope. I loved the name so much I decided to do my best for her.

The Rewards of Perfectionism

PHOTO PROMPT © Al Forbes

PHOTO PROMPT © Al Forbes

As kids we hated going there. Mary once shattered a Wedgewood vase and you should’ve heard Uncle wail. Everything had to be perfect. When we were old enough, we’d always find an excuse not to go, ‘cause what kid wants to spend a month of summer wearing white and sitting hands-on-lap. and watch the old man take tea from the sterling service? I couldn’t remember the last time I went. Which was why it surprised me.

Augustus swept one arm at ceremoniously at the Rambler and handed me the key with the other.  “It’s yours now, sir.”

It was perfect.

100 words

This has been an edition of the Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the gracious and talented Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo prompt courtesy the gracious and talented Al Forbes of Sunday Photo Fiction fame 🙂

To read more flash fiction or to submit your own click the blue froggy button.

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As a side-note–I recall this picture from last February but I can’t locate it on my blog so I’m not sure if I posted a story or not. I vaguely remember writing one but sometimes they don’t make it to the blog.

 

In Real Life

Sunday Photo Fiction

Sunday Photo Fiction

 

The first thing he noticed was the cold.

 

The last thing he remembered was Ashlee. She was every bit the beauty her profile pic had suggested, with a banner of sienna hair pulled to one side and gamine features that put him in mind of the sprites in his Elfscape game.

He watched her scan the lobby, his heart poised to pounce out of his chest. Would she see him? And if she did, would she turn around and leave?

Just then, her eyes lit upon him and a perfect smile broke free from her croissant lips. She started for him, her long legs mirrored against the marble floor as she walked. With her came the scent of jasmine and the smell of something different. Something clean.

He held out a hand to shake hers—not knowing if that’s what one did on these things—if that was the customary greeting when people finally met in real life.

She warmly clasped his hand and brought her other hand around to cup his forearm. She tilted up and breathed into his ear: “Shall we have a drink first?”

 

He woke up Sunday, in a bathtub of ice.

This has been an edition of Sunday Photo Fiction, hosted by Al Forbes. To read more flash fiction or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button.


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Hackers – HitList excerpt

2017-01-14-3

First a warning: this week I chose not to do a story–ripe as it was with all sorts of possibilities–political and otherwise. Instead, I chose cheated and am posting an excerpt from my book HitList, a YA Novel about a teenage girl who writes a computer virus to get revenge on cyberbullies. I think this might be the first excerpt I’ve shared. Hope you enjoy. Interestingly, it was written well before Russian hackers made the daily headlines. Excuse the indulgence. Hope you enjoy….

Would anyone connect it to me?

Viruses were written by nerdy, disaffected teenage boys–guys who couldn’t get laid. Not teenage girls who topped of the honor roll. Not girls who had a shot at a full ride scholarship at MIT. Hackers smoked cigarettes in rooms lit by analog monitors, plotting to take down websites that ended in .gov. Cyber-criminals lived a half a world away, concocting Russian phishing scams. Not people like me; they had no reason to suspect me.

As for Eli . . .  Well, he was a strange character and there was no telling exactly why he thought he had me. He had no proof about the virus, not on my phone. Did he? No one else suspected me, as far as I could tell. I just needed to keep it that way.

I peeked out the blinds to see if Dad’s car was back.

To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click the blue froggy button

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A Couple of Live Ones

Integraton, Landers, California

Integraton, Landers, California

“Names please?”

“Hanson. Bob and Betty Hanson.”

The receptionist squinted at her monitor and then looked up. “From Duluth?”

“Right, that’s us.”

“How lovely. May I have your credit card please?”

Betty fumbled in her carry-on for the Visa. The receptionist swiped it and swiveled the monitor around. “I’ll just need your PIN.”

Bob and Betty shared a look. “But I–” Bob said.

“It’s customary,” the receptionist interrupted smoothly. “You want the treatment, right?”

Bob grumbled and entered the number.

“You’re all set then. You’ll want to disrobe in the changing area. Leave all your clothes and personal items in the baskets. Then, proceed down the curved hallway to the chamber. Once inside, lie down and put your blindfold in place.”

Betty shouldered her bag and the pair toddled down the hallway. As the changing door closed, the receptionist hit the intercom. “Got a couple of live ones for you, Benny.”

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more flash fiction inspired by the location or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button.

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The Three Bears

Sunday Photo Fiction

Sunday Photo Fiction

“I won’t, Mummy.”

“Darling, please. We can’t. Not today. Mummy doesn’t get paid til Friday.”

“If I can’t have it I’ll scream. I’ll know you don’t love me.”

“Oh, precious. Mummy loves you very much. Look, we’re getting the bear.” She flipped the tag to check the price and handed it to the boy. He hugged it close and pressed his face into the fluffy white fur.

It would be fine, she supposed, smiling. There was a bone of beef in the freezer to make a broth. She could stop at the market for carrots and peas and perhaps some barley. And flour for bread. Her stomach lapped at the thought. Belly-filling meals for the pair of them for the next five days, if not hearty ones.

The boy looked up. “White bear says she wants the tan one,” he said. “She told me.”

She eyed the price tag. “Very well then.” There would be soup, but no bread, she decided.

He wrapped his arms around both bears and squeezed. She turned to go.

“But Mummy! I want the brown one too.”

She let out an exasperated sigh and tightened her stomach. “Very well then.”

There would be broth.

199 words

To read more flash fiction inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:


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This has been an edition of Sunday Photo Fiction, hosted by the gracious Al Forbes. Al has been generous enough to host this weekly 200 word fiction challenge in spite of ongoing health issues. He’s now asking for participants to submit pictures of their own in order to continue the challenge.

Al, Thanks for your generosity. I love the luxury of 200 words and the chance to share stories with this lovely group. Look for photos coming your way!