All posts by k rawson

YA author, freelance writer, technoligista, mom

The Ayahusaca

Huayna Picchu | Google Maps

“Oh my god, stop it.”

Josh dropped the chalk and lolled on his back, grinning up at the sun. A stream of drool ran from one corner of his mouth. His chest heaved. The Ayahusaca was a bad idea. Since the tea ceremony, he’d been wallowing over the Incan ruins and blathering about the god-Inca-love-connection that ‘binds us all.’

I walked to where he’d scrawled my name on a granite outcrop downhill from the Incan temple where he’d stripped down to his underwear. The graffiti would probably wash off in the next rainstorm. His sunburn was another matter.

“Honey, you’re getting red. At least put on some sunscreen.”

He jolted up from the slab. “My heart.”

My chest tightened. “You’re not having a heart attack, are you?”

He fumbled for the dropped chalk and turned around to scrawl a heart in the space below my name. “I forgot my heart.”

150 words

Sorry Josh, I couldn’t resist.

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

Ayahusaca is an hallucinogenic drink used in spiritual ceremonies by indigenous people in Peru. As of late, it has become a bit of a tourist industry. Foreigners pay big money to go on Ayahusaca retreats and experience the enlightenment it promises.

We Portlanders

Somewhere in Portland, Oregon | Scooter Mc Quades
Who’s Got Game? Google Maps

At first it was some sort of a joke, like ‘Florida Man’, except it was us…we, Portlanders.

Portlanders ban single use plastic bags.

The news hawks swept in, made us seem like clog-wearing hippies wearing tie-dye tees.

Portlanders vote yes to zero landfill.

Suit-clad newscasters smirked and showed footage of beard-sporting hipsters sipping organic free-trade. “That’ll never last,” they said.

Portlanders go zero emission.

The pundits waved their hands, said it wasn’t practical. They said since legalizing weed, we Portlanders had abandoned all reason.

When our Oregon senator brought the Portland Bill, which banned lobbyists from making campaign donations and completely rewrote campaign finance law, the senate floor erupted. “There’s no way,” they said. But maybe they were more worried about reelection without their coal lobby and billionaire funds.

Portlanders lead the country into renewable energy.

They called it a joke, a trope, a cliché, but we did it—we: Portlanders.

150 words

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

Apologies for not participating the past few weeks. I have been studying for a certification exam (which I passed!).

I love Portland, but when I picked it for a location for Pegman this week, I never imagined I’d have such a hard time of it. Some of my favorite things are associated with Portland… forests, ferns, moss, coffee…Lewis & Clark, bigfoot, and of course my husband J. Hardy Carroll. But when I saw this picture with the Subaru outside, I got hung up on the cliche of Portland.

Anyone who knows Portland or has watched Portlandia knows what I’m talking about. For some reason this glitch got me thinking about the legend that is Florida Man–and this story was born. Call it sci-fi-satire-cliche, I guess. But with a happy ending, because the world is saved!

Have a most wonderful week & thanks for reading.

Karen

The End of the World

Cape Horn | Michael Slough, Google Maps

“It’s not the end of the world, Jenna. We can keep trying.”

“We shouldn’t have come.”

Patagonia was supposed to be our last adventure before becoming parents. Instead, it had been a crushing end to a cherished expectation.

“It’ll be okay.” I reached for her hand. There was no point in reminding her what the doctor in Santiago had said—that it happened in one in four pregnancies. That we were young. That we could try again. No—it wasn’t the end of the world, but we could see it from here. She knew what the doctor in Santiago hadn’t: that it ran in the family.

On the horizon, the ghosts of islands slumbered in the fog. It wasn’t ours to know the shape of our future. But just as I knew the color of her eyes and the shape of her hips, I knew somewhere in our future, a child waited.

152 words

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

Thjodhild the Opinionated

Greenland | Google Maps

People believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. Like “Red”. Weren’t for his beard, I’ll tell you that.

Us, banished. Again. He didn’t want to tell me, either. That’s where the red came from. Him standing on the other side of the hide-door, shifting from foot to foot. “Thjodhild. I’ve got some bad news.”

“You can’t be murdering the neighbors. Have you murdered the neighbors again?”

Ever tried to cross the North Atlantic in a longship in September?

Not that I agree with the sentence, mind you. Fellow he killed was Eyiolf the Foul. Seems like he was doing the town a favor.

Anyway, Erik wanted to call it “Exileland”. Seriously. Hoping to build a colony in a brave new land by calling it a land of exiles. He never had no sense.

“What should we call it then, to bring back settlers?”

“Erik—you’re calling it Greenland.”

149 words

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

I couldn’t help having a little fun with the legend of Erik the Red by making his wife larger than life. Who knows what the real Thjodhild had to put up with, but I like thinking Erik wasn’t and Leif weren’t the only badasses of the family.

The Horse Thief’s Daughter

Victoria Dock, Caernafon, Wales | Pete Edwards 360uk , Google Maps

Today, a preamble rather than a postscript on my story:

When I see places as lovely as Portmeirion Village, Wales, I wonder what possessed my ancestors to leave such a lovely country. And then I remember there was probably some misbegotten criminal matter or some unseemly circumstance behind it. Which is how this story happened.

My grandma liked to say that the riderless horse on the family crest was because we were horse thieves from way back. And then there’s the matter of the childless fifty-something couple in Nebraska that suddenly gave birth to my great grandmother. Yes, there are all sorts of interesting things in history, I imagine.

The steward eyed her midsection as she boarded. “Yer husband be waiting in America?”

“Yessir.”

There was no husband. There was only a charming rogue and a fortnight of promises. Her hand curled to the growing curve of her belly.

“Yer name?”

“Eliza.”

“Eliza what?”

She cleared her throat. Giving her surname—even in this port—was risky. Her people were vagabonds and miscreants. It was no wonder she’d taken a bad path.

She would make it in America, though. She couldn’t heft a pickaxe, but where there were miners, there were hungry men who’d pay a shilling for a hearty cawl and brown bread. She’d take care of the young one now slumbering in her belly. Raise him as a widow and turn her life around.

Her eyes shifted to the barrels on the deck. She couldn’t read, but she knew the sounds of some letters. “Rawson,” she guessed.

150 words

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

The One That Is Not a Story, but Rather a Manifesto Against the Relentless Winter of 2019 and My Leaky Roof

A photo of me at Mt. Everest that is absolutely not Photoshopped. Really.

Snow came upon snow, a thick layer building on the broken-down gutters, until the pipe took on a slant from the weight. The driveway became a canyon of shoveled snow taller than the car.

“Thaw is coming,” we said, and smiled.

But when it did, the melt dripped from the kitchen ceiling, and the cabinets turned waterfall. Our hopes for spring turned to prayers for a freeze.

Winter delivered, layering slush upon ice upon snow.

Two days later, we had almost dug out. I rested against a snow shovel, watching the sunlight slanting through the icicles. A glacier sat poised on our eaves. An icefall glistened prettily down the side of the house. I pulled out my phone and checked the forecast. More cold, more snow, more thaw.

I grabbed an icepick and charged toward the house, hacking at the Khumbu icefall which was formerly our house.

Winter wasn’t beating me.

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 here.

Excuse the longer personal note. Two things I wanted to share with you:

1. I’ve been facing a metaphorical Everest myself these days—the icefall on my house only one of my challenges to overcome in 2019. I remain as determined as ever.

My dad had a plaque on his wall—one that would seem painfully ironic in light of his story—but it’s an inspiring truth to anyone who is unafraid of hard work and failure. If you have a dream you’re chasing, it’s a good one to keep in mind anytime you’re beset by setbacks.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
–Calvin Coolidge

2. My story had nothing to do with Everest, but I’m counting on the rest of you to entertain me with your marvelous Everest stories. Since I cheated (technically, I didn’t cheat, since I make the rules on Pegman, and a literal take on the prompt is never mandatory, BUT) this gives me a chance to show off some really great pictures of me at Mt. Everest, which are absolutely not at Photoshopped baahahahaha.

Another photo of me at Mt. Everest that is absolutely not Photoshopped. Really.

One more definitely not photoshopped picture of me at Everest.

3. Whee! Which actually makes this three things.

Don’t Be Koi

Songxicun, China | Gao Shian, Google Maps

The tea merchant’s daughter was as luminous as the full winter moon over Jade Dragon mountain, and one day, Lin Bao would marry her. This he decided when he saw her kneeling before the tranquil pool beneath the tea merchant’s shop. She was feeding a handful of sticky rice to the koi. She looked up, her dark eyes wide, her pink mouth abloom like an orchid.

“Oh,” he said. It was all he could think to say. He turned around and ran up the cobblestone street. His bare feet pounded fast as his heart as he hurried back to the two-room where he lived with his parents and brothers.

If he didn’t marry her, life wasn’t worth living. He smoothed his hair as he walked inside. There were so many things to do. To court, to woo, to win. And first of all, to learn her name.

148 words

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