The Official Karen©, setting the record straight. Please read my post on Medium:
The Official Karen©Speaks Out on Racism
He felt the thud of the hatchway as it closed and released a long breath. It felt as if he hadn’t breathed since that moment at security, the guard’s frown as he perused his passport and boarding pass and handed it back. The flight attendant smiled on her way past and he realized it was the first time he breathed—really breathed—in years.
Out the window, a row of beech trees darkened the horizon. As they taxied down the runway, he remembered his grandmother’s place in rolling hills of Vedensky. He might never see her again. He might never eat her chepalgash, or stroll the grounds outside of Serdtse Chechni, or let his feet dangle from the bench swings at Ulitsa Chernyshevskogo.
What he would do was as uncertain as [and here the author makes a brilliant observation]. The only thing certain was life.
145 words or so
This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.
A note: I wrote this story meaning to edit it sometime before it went live this morning. Then, I forgot about it.
Once I was able to get into my wordpress editor, I pasted in the original draft, which I am really unhappy with, but in the spirit of releasing perfectionism, I’m putting this out anyway.
“I should be going with you,” he said, expression more glum than worried.
Before the law changed, he would always go to the day market with her. There he would watch not the streets or milling crowds, but her. Heaven forbid she make a wrong choice or a bad bargain. ‘Why did you pick those plantains and not the larger ones?’ ‘That fisherman always cheats you.’
She adjusted her shawl and slid her feet into worn sandals. “You know the law,” she reminded.
He grumbled, not because he was ruled by law, but because a man could not go out unnoticed in times such as these. She shouldered her bag. As the door closed behind her, she felt her spine straighten, her shoulders grow light. It was always like this now, on days such as these.
This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here. Inspired by this little news story out of Panama:
In Panama, coronavirus lockdown means separating men and women.
Their unique approach to dealing with the coronavirus outbreak was to allow women out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and have men-only days on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
“They’re going to turn this place into a carnival.” Paul let the heavy drapes fall closed.
He was grumping on about the Welcome Center again. The Preservation Society planned to break ground on the structure next spring.
“Come now, is it really that bad? We can’t even see the site from our suite,” Gladys said.
“That’s not the point and you know it. Our grandfather built this place.”
He was always saying ‘our grandfather’ as if the old man had bounced them on his knee. In truth, he wasn’t a grandfather but a great-grandfather. To Gladys, he was a stern face staring from an oil painting. “Things change,” she shrugged.
“We’ve kept the very roof over their heads. And at great expense, I might add.”
She stared past the collection of dusty antiques wearing their skins of fading silk, to the watermarks along the south wall. That was also true, which was maybe why it was time to let go.
This story inspired by Are the Vanderbilt Heirs being forced out of the Breakers? The answer is yes, and to give away the ending: They were.
She was four days gone when he came upon her. A grand dame of a beast, perhaps forty, although it was hard to say without her tusks. Flies buzzed around the carcass like static from a distant station. He listened for movement. Hyenas had been at the place where her head had been, but something had scared them off.
He padded across the soft dirt, studying the story left behind the slaughter: a drag of flattened grass, a tusk gouge where they’d hoisted their dirty prize onto their truck, and the twin crocodile-skin of their tire tracks, heading west. And then he saw it—an elephant track half as small as the murdered cow’s. Somewhere, there was a calf.
He raised his head, neck taut, scanning the mancala of whistling thorn and baobab trees which stretched as far as the horizon. Maybe this time, he wouldn’t be too late.
Elephant calves will sometimes remain by the slaughtered mothers for up to five days before they succumb to starvation. The mission of the Ivory Orphans in Tanzania is to find and protect these orphans until they can be raised to adulthood.
It’s been suggested that I participate in What Pegman Saw since I haven’t in awhile.
I have to admit, I have about as much desire to write as I do to pull out my eyelashes with tweezers, which is to say, none. I tried to rework a handwritten story that’s been sitting on my desk, but had no luck trying to resuscitate it. So instead I’ll reblog the story I did the last time Pegman was in Arizona.
Palisade Rim/Ute Petroglyph Trail, Colorado © Google Maps
Her thighs ached from the ride. Not the days’ ride up from Delta, but the ride the night before with the rustler from Laramie. As he’d slept, she’d pilfered his pockets and his money had bought this mount. She was northbound before the sun had climbed over the sagebrush east of town.
It was a sorry state of affairs that had brought her here. She had no say in the laws of man. Laws that would let her hold no property, or earn an honest living better than starvation wage. Laws that said she must submit to the hand of a drunken fool. She had as much right to live free in this country as any man.
She nudged the toe of her soft kid boot at the mare’s belly and clucked. As the mare cantered to a gallop, she decided: from…
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Here on this hill, we stayed back. We watched the other survivors pluck their way down the mountainside, past the burned shell of the fuselage, until the half-dozen figures were lost among the rocks and landscape; wondering, hoping, waiting.
We turned our eyes skyward and watched for rescue planes that never came and comforted the girl who grew tired as the hours turned to days, shivering even as we bundled our parkas around her, and gave her the last of the thin crackers wrapped in foil which we found amidst the wreckage of holiday baggage and broken bodies which were strewn upon the slope. And as waited, we told rescue stories which started out with big headlines and TV interviews, but then were more about meat pies and brown trout cooked on a fire, and finally just about living long enough to say goodbye to the ones who mattered most.
Sorry so late! I never could get my first take completed to my satisfaction, so I abandoned it and wrote a new one! This is actually a photo of a climbing expedition and plane crash survivors, but there was something kind of forlorn in there which inspired this story.
“But Papa, he wants to marry me.” Her cheeks were bright. Whether it was from chill or passion he couldn’t say. He rested a hand on his shovel and studied her. Loosed from its braid, a strand of her hair waved in the wind.
He had plans when they pulled up stakes in Iowa and came to this featureless flat—plans that did not include marrying his sixteen-year old daughter to a handyman fifteen years her senior. “You’ll do no such thing,” he said.
“You don’t understand. We’re in love.” At that, her hand went to the curve of her belly.
It was a gesture he knew all too well, having seen it from his wife eight times these past twenty years. He understood all right. He understood there was no such thing as a fresh start.
I have a personal connection to Saskatchewan so I took this opportunity to fictionalize a page from my family tree. My grandmother was born in Saskatchewan. My great-grandfather is the handyman of this tale, and the headstrong girl is my great-grandmother.
She had seen him before. He was one of the pretty ones, broad of shoulder and slim of waist. He had almond eyes and high cheeks, but it was his lips she thought of the most. She wondered how they’d taste. She wondered what it would be like to kiss them.
Would it be different than kissing a white boy? The thought sparkled like a sky full of stars under a new moon. Milky way stars. But instead of Clarence’s face huffing over her, drops of July sweat dripping down, it would be this boy, this beautiful boy.
She realized as he boarded the elevator that she didn’t even know his name. She only knew she had to know once and for all how those lips tasted.
He walked to the back. He stood at one corner, eyes looking down. She smiled and closed the elevator door.
No one can say for sure what happened in the elevator between Dick Rowland and Sarah Page, the pair whose encounter launched the controversy and violence that was the Tulsa massacre. I went through many possible permutations in my mind, most of which I didn’t want to write, since neither of them can speak for themselves. Not exactly thrilled with this one either, but it’s hard not to wonder what really happened that day.
“Let it slip from your shoulder my kleine bruid.”
Helene blushed. The negotiations had begun an hour ago, leaving her petticoats in a pile on the divan, her corset slung over the chair, and her red dress on the floor beneath her like a rug. Only the fur was left.
“But husband, people will see this painting. The Janssens. The Duponts. The mayor.” Her breath hung in a cloud in the chilly studio.
He tilted around the easel to peer at her. “Indeed. And when the Lady Janssens’s raven tresses have gone gray, when the mayor’s bones have turned to dust in his grave, and when the mortar has crumbled on the Dupont château, and the last stone falls, you will still be fresh as dew. You will forever be the meadow bloom of the sweetest May morning. You will be immortal.”
She let the coat fall to her waist.
Rubens spent the last ten years of his life in Belgium, where this photo of his second wife was painted. This was my attempt to decipher curious mix of wonder and triumph in her face.