All posts by k rawson

YA author, freelance writer, technoligista, mom

The Ones That Last: The Floating Islands of the Uru

Floating Island, Lake Titicaca ©  D. Alexander Flores, Google Maps

“Oh my gawd. Oh my gawd.” The woman held her arms out as she wobbled over a springy spot in the totora reeds.

Quereche’s dark eyes slid to Michu, amused. A smile dimpled Michu’s check, but she kept her eyes on her stitching. Los turistas were comical, if nothing else: from their first gasps when they stepped upon the floating island, to their wide eyes when they realized that the huts had electricity generated from solar panels, to their open mouths when they heard the radio station broadcasting the afternoon musica to all the Uru’s floating sister islands. They would cup their hands and whisper How strange.

This always made Quereche smile even more. Though the solar panels and radio station were new, her people had survived on this lake for millennia. They’d watched the Inca come and go; then the conquistadores. It would be no different with these people.

150 words

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

To read more about the Uru people of Lake Titicaca and their floating islands, watch the video below or  visit Atlas Obscura.

The Changeling

Uwchmynydd, Wales,  ©  Dan Boyington, Google Maps

 

She was doing it again. My wife stood at the kitchen window, elbow deep in sink water, even though the frothy suds had long since flattened to a greasy film.

I cleared my throat so as not to startle her. Mary turned. “You’ve got to believe me,” she said.

Ever since the trip to Gwynedd she’d been this way. I nodded at the window where our daughter played outside. She was weaving a crown from a handful of daisies she’d plucked from the garden. “She’s fine, love. She’s the same as ever.”

Mary glared distrustfully at the girl and walked toward me. “I’ve been doing some research. They’re called the Twylwyth Teg. They take a human child, and in its place—”

“Darling, stop.”

I hardly knew what to say to her anymore. Our daughter was the same bright child she’d always been.

Mary was the one who had changed.

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.

Sorry for the delayed post! This week and last week have been deadline-o-rama, what with one short story, two articles, and a submission package (for an anthology) due. Plus the daily 1000-word slog on my WIP. And in bouts of insomnia and you get one tired writer. By the time I got to Pegman, my creative juices ran dry.

What Pegman Saw: Tribute

Dos Ojos Cenote © Jason Covert Google Maps

 

Shaman said it was the only way to drive them out.

Every child knows from mothers’ milk that Tribute is the only way to correct the course of man. That days spin out from a spiral, and when the course has wronged, Tribute is the only way to correct it.

Sixty children, Shaman asked. One for each finger and toe of every warrior lost to the sickness. Sixty children sacrificed to the cenotes.

Tribute brought rain to parched fields, tribute sent clouds of hoppers on to other crops far away.

But sixty children meant no family went without sacrifice.

Babajide thought of his son, nearly eleven. Of his two girls, now seven and four. How could he choose?

He wouldn’t, he decided. They would flee. Go as far as Chichen Itza if that’s what it took. Even if it meant the White Face peopled Zama like a swarm of hoppers.

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.

The Stairs Not Taken

The tires crunched as I pulled to the shoulder and parked. How had I never seen them before? I opened the car door.

The ancient stairs were covered in a peeling scale of fallen leaves. Those same leaves that had always hidden the stairs in all the summers of driving by.

What was it about the sight that made my heart go untethered in my chest? What was it about them that spilled hope and fear like a drug in my blood?

They waited.

What would happen if I climbed them? And if I never did, would I always wonder?

100 words

What a delight to find my photo on Fictioneers this morning! Thanks for using it Rochelle. I can’t wait to see where all the Fictioneers go with it.

I don’t know if mine is a story, or just what actually goes through my mind every time I walk by this spot. To date, the stairs remain unclimbed. But the place lives large in my mind as a personal metaphor.

If you’d like to take part in the Friday Fictioneers weekly 100-word challenge, click here. To read other stories inspired by the prompt, go here.

The Butterfly Lovers – An Excerpt From a Chinese Legend

Great Wall of China, © Sébastien Laading, Google Maps

Zhu kept her tiny hands hidden in the sleeves of her Zhiduo. It was the price she’d agreed to pay in order to gain an education denied her gender. For three years, she’d worn her hair bound in the traditional masculine topknot. For three years she’d kept her face buried in her books, so that no one could glimpse her snow-blossom cheek and guess her secret. But when Liang came by, it grew more difficult to hide her affections.

They’d met on the journey out, forming an instant attachment that went beyond friendship or even brotherhood. And what it was now, Zhu could no longer deny. At the risk of losing her friendship, she had to let him know.

A mated pair of mandarins floated by, paddling in unison. Zhu slipped her tiny hand from her sleeve and gestured at the pair. “Let us be as they are,” she said.

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.

I confess this story doesn’t have much to do with the Great Wall. I was hoping to find a Romeo & Juliet type-tale where the wall got in the middle. I never found one, but I did come across the story of the Butterfly Lovers, a Chinese legend that has a slightly happier ending than Romeo & Juliet.

This Wild Heart

Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge, © Heiko von Fintel Google Maps

Dearest Father,

By now you must be wondering whether I’ve been taken hostage by savages or eaten alive by hungry lions. End your worrying now, dear Papa, and know that I am well.

Know also I was not blind to your intentions when I left. You expected this safari would tame my wild heart. You thought upon return, I would marry William Vanadel with no further argument. But Papa, I will not be returning.

From the dawn that gilds each blade of grass, to the jewel box of stars that spill across the night sky, Rodesia is mine. It took but a fortnight among the kindness of these people to know that I should live my life among the Tswana–both as a teacher and a student, both as a sister and a wife. Send no envoy to retrieve me, for I am not your Margaret.

They call me Keneilwe.

Copyright/source unknown

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.

This week’s story was all about trying to wrap a meaningful story around the stunning spot I happened to stumble across when I plopped my Pegman down. There might be prettier sights captured by Pegman, but right now I can’t think of any.

 

My April 14 Story Contest News and Spring Complaint

Imminent Spring

Here in the Midwest we’re still getting blasted with late-season snow every other day, but green things are bursting from the ground anyway.

In writing news, I submitted a story for Short Fiction Break’s spring contest. It’s called In the Ring. It was inspired by a story I wrote back in February for Friday Fictioneers called The Contender. As any of the Fictioneers will tell you, sometimes the story is so much more than the 100-word limit will allow! That story haunted me, so I was glad for the opportunity to dig in.

Per the contest guidelines, the story is about what happens when a character winds up stuck between a bad choice and a worse choice. If you like it, Please vote it for a readers’ choice award. If you don’t like it, well then I hope you like J. Hardy Carroll’s story instead.

Happy Spring! Or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, have a most wonderful autumn.

Karen