Category Archives: Flash Fiction

Bless Your Heart

Southern-style mansion with columns

My future mother-in-law showed up at the bridal salon forty minutes late, reeking of Blanton’s. Our eyes met in the paneled mirror of the dressing area: mine wide, hers red.

“You’re wearing white? Well bless your heart,” she said.

“So what did she say?” my fiancé asked that night in bed.

“Bless your heart,” I told him. “That’s good, isn’t it?”

It isn’t, I discovered when we moved to Georgia two years later. My mother-in-law now lived close enough to pop her head in my kitchen at will.

“Sweet potato pie,” she said, showing up drunk for dinner. Again. “Did you get that recipe online? Bless your heart.”

Two more years, three hundred recipes. I picked up the drawl, I mastered peach pie. I could brew a mint julep like Faulkner’s ghost.

I caught her in the kitchen pouring a fourth. I smirked. “Well, well. Enjoying my julep? Bless your heart.”

151 words

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

I have to confess this might be one of my least favorite stories. I wanted to have some fun with the iconic loaded southern saying “Bless your heart”, which more often than not means something very different than the words imply. I wasn’t sure how to get across the different nuances in such a short word count. I also have to confess that my head is deep in the revisions of my third novel and it was tough to shift gears. But here I am, and in the spirit of abandoning any pretense of good storytelling, I humbly offer my contribution to Pegman this week. Bless my heart.

But, I am looking forward to reading all of yours!

Cheers and thanks for reading.

The Stakeout

Janta Stores Bandra West, Mumbai, India | © Support Direct India Google Maps

Rehana smiled for the first time in seventeen days. It was him. She’d know him anywhere: the thin lips, the heavy brow, the eyes cold as kadappa stone.

He was standing outside the ATM vestibule, his eyes darting up and down the street. Not only was he back, he was setting a trap for another victim.

Her throat tightened as she remembered the day. What a nice man, she’d thought. That day, she left with a friendly wave. It wasn’t until she got to work she realized his friendliness was a ruse to lift ₹10,000 from her account.

No one scams Rehana Shaikh. At least not again.

She’d gone back to the store across from the ATM every day for seventeen days waiting for him. Waiting for justice. The police had merely shrugged at her initial report. “Nothing we can do.”

They wouldn’t be able to say that now.

149 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.

Inspired by real events: Mumbai woman visits same ATM everyday for 17 days, catches man who duped her

The Last Family Vacation

St. Helena Island | © kyle williamson, Google Maps

They were fighting again.

Derek could read his mother’s moods like a seasoned meteorologist and something had happened while he’d sat on the precipice and sketched for the past hour.

Mom’d showed up, arms folded, mouth taut. “We’re going back to the ship. Now.”

Dad was all false cheer on the drive back to the boat, sneaking sips from the silver flask he kept in the front pocket of his Bermudas and going on about Napoleon and what a treat it was to finally see such a historical sight.

At the harbour store stop, she returned with a bottle of gin.

“Looks like someone means to have fun,” Dad said; the chuckle that followed rang hollow.

She shot him a dark look before turning to Derek. “Someone seems to think this trip isn’t fun at all.”

Derek looked down. It wasn’t, if you wanted to get all honest about it.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. My apologies to the people in this photo. Not sure why it inspired this sad family drama, but it truly had nothing to do with them.

To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

What Pegman Saw: Dr. Abara’s Strike

Al Jazeera News

Twelve years of schooling, five years of medical school, two years of residency—all for one purpose: to help people.

Years earlier, he’d watched his beloved Grand-Amai die writhing in pain–for the want of morphine and a kind doctor willing to travel the distance to treat her. He vowed when he got his degree he’d never let anyone suffer as she had.

Six years working at West End Hospital had proven him wrong. People in his care suffered all the time. They suffered from drug shortages, unsanitary conditions, a complete lack of medical supplies. They suffered from the scant wages paid to the doctors, so that only a handful stayed on.

He’d stayed—often spending his own meager salary on medicine and medical supplies—but it had only helped in the short-term. It was like buying Band-Aids for a sliced artery.

There was only one way to help everyone.

150 words

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

This is a fictional account inspired by current headlines in Zimbabwe. To learn more, visit Zimbabwe doctors’ strike: patients bare[sic] the brunt of protests.

The End of Rational Thought

picture from google maps which appears to show people vanishing

Teatr im. Juliusza Słowackiego, Krakow, Poland | ©
Łukasz Pompa Google Maps

We were scientists, once. Then came the vanishings.

Epidemiologists called it a virus. They claimed some airborne illness afflicted the vanished on a sub-cellular level, causing their cells to spontaneously self-cannibalize. Physicists were split. Some insisted the vanished had slipped into an alternate dimension, while others talked of a warp in the space-time continuum. Psychologists tried to convince everyone it was mass hallucination, and said all we needed was a little therapy.

But me, I was an anthropologist, and I’ve grown to think there is an expiration date on reality. For a time, we worshipped gods of earth and climate, so at their mercy we were. Then we had the gods of laws and kindness—to get along as community grew. Once global, we worshipped science, believing every happening bound by reason.

And what we worship now, I cannot say. I just know I am a scientist no more.

149 words

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

Pretty strange, I know. Partially inspired by The Leftovers, partially inspired by a fevered dream from  The Cold From Hell. For the past ten days I have been getting my ass kicked by a non-fictional virus. Instead of making me disappear, it just makes me want to. I’m finally beginning to feel human today–food sounds good and I slept through the night without choking on my own snot. It’s good to be alive.

 

What Pegman Saw: No Distractions

Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout, Big Sky, Montana | © Matthew Kennedy, Google Maps

The ranger smirked at the sight of her store-fresh backpack and then eyed her tennis shoes. “You want me to check back mid-week?”

No distractions. That had been the point of this whole week. No kids, no husband—no interruptions. “I’ll be fine.”

She lugged the five-gallon water jug up the fire tower stairs as the ranger rumbled away on his AWD. She didn’t notice the leak until morning. By then, five days’ worth of water had spilled across plank floor.

That was four days ago. Her parched lips cracked as her mouth tightened in a grimace. How long could a person go without water, anyway?

She thought of Tilly, sticky fingers tugging at her sleeve: Tell me a story.

She thought of Robert, popping in her office for the hundredth time: Would you like a cup of tea?

What she wouldn’t give for such sweet distraction now.

148 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. Click here to read more stories inspired by the prompt.

If you’re looking for a prompt to challenge or inspire you, please join me on What Pegman Saw.

What Pegman Saw: Hallo Schönheit

Image result for elvis in the army

“They’re here again.”

Private Smith eyed the gate. A dozen German girls twirled their skirts and stared back hopefully.

“C’mon Smitty. Let’s go down there.”

He shrugged. “They don’t wanna meet no ‘nobody’. They’re here to see him.”

Even Johnson couldn’t argue that. Wherever the Third Armored went, throngs of fans followed—but they were no fans of the soldiers. They were fans of Elvis Presley. Meanwhile, Elvis spent next to no time at the base. He was seven kilometers away in Bad Nauheim.

Still, it didn’t stop the girls from showing up. Elvis wasn’t even all that handsome, Smitty thought. He ran a hand over his buzz cut. He’d be handsome too, if he hadn’t had to buzz his hair to the pink of his scalp.

“Let’s go down there anyway,” Johnson said.

There were a lot of girls. “What are we going to say to them?”

Hallo Schönheit, hallo.”

151 words

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

This story was inspired by my dad, who was stationed in Germany with Elvis. He never met him, but said he was always surrounded by a crowd.