Category Archives: Flash Fiction

The Secret Silk Dress

Cira Boutique | Google Maps

“What is this?”

Mama held the dress high, pinched between her thumb and forefinger.

I’d found it at Cira; used the money from six months of chores to pay for it. A dress, to tuck in a drawer—to only pull out when I was alone—to imagine who I could have been. Who I should have been, but wasn’t. A secret so unutterable I’d never said it, not even to myself. My mouth fell open, helpless to answer her.

Her dark eyes flashed. Her look said she knew—that maybe she’d always known, but she needed me to say it. When I didn’t, she draped the dress, fold on fold onto her lap. The fingers of one hand caressed the silk. “A beautiful dress. For a beautiful girl,” she said.

I was neither. I stared at my lap.

“Child, when I said you could be anything, I meant it.”

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

This story was inspired by reading about Michelle Suárez Bértora.

 

Cut and Run

Rawson Lake, Alberta, Canada © Google Maps

“I say we try again.”

“All Trails said there were no bears.”

“Sorry, Stephen. It looks like maybe bears can’t read.”

They’d tried for the car twice already, only to find the trail blocked by a sizable grizzly.

“I’m going to call someone,” he announced, pulling out his phone. “This is a public place. They can’t just have bears roaming around. It’s not safe. We’ll call a ranger and they’ll come get us.”

She shook her head.

They couldn’t overnight here—not in these clothes—with the weather coming. He was making this so difficult. The whole trip had been frustrating—him slogging along, unable to put his phone down for five minutes and enjoy the moment.

He pouted as he swabbed at his phone. “There’s no signal.”

She snorted, one eye on the trail. It didn’t matter if the bear was still there. What mattered was who could run faster.

151 words

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

I think this is the second time a bear has made an appearance in one of my Pegman stories, but when I read the reviews of this trail on All Trails, and saw it had been closed several times this season due to bears, I couldn’t resist. That, and the fact that my trip to Yellowstone a decade ago was rife with grizzly encounters, which left me with the sense that anytime I wandered into the Rockies, the bears might find me.

The Interview

Béatrice Hotel, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo | © Noé Diakubama, Google Maps

Today was a new day.

Today was starched suit, shined shoe, best suit.

It was borrowed cufflinks. It was smart knot in the bow tie.

It was leave early and walk slow, before the heat of the day could squeeze a rash of sweat along his hairline and make him seem nervous.

It was sit up straight and wait. It was smile and shake hands when the man came out to talk to him. It was make a good impression. It was yes sir and nod at all the appropriate places.

And when the man in the khaki suit the very color of his sallow skin smiled his very fake smile and said I’m sorry that position has been filled

It was a day to try hard;

it was a day to try very, very hard

not to be

disappointed.

140 words

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

We Steal Things: A story in single-syllable words

Bayside Garden World, Kilda Street, Elwood, Victoria © Google Maps

 

My son and I stole a car last week. It was not the first.

We stole a Juke once, and a Fit just like me mum’s.

I think I like the trucks the best. With a truck you can steal more things—swing by a lawn shop and grab sacks of dirt, or the round glass balls that old men put in yards to keep the kids at bay. I have a fence in Cairns.

Nick said no, at first.

“We won’t get caught,” I said.

“But Mum.”

“I’ll get you to school on time,” I said, and meant it. And he has not been late, not once.

At first, he kept watch while I did the work: the lock pick with the fob-thing that I got from a guy in Perth. It does the trick. And Nick is quick, and in a bit, I think that I can quit my job.

152 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 feel like I should explain myself.

This morning I was feeling tired and uninspired. I started writing a little piece to capture the Australian vernacular. But, the further I got into it, the more I hated it. So I decided to write a little poem instead. But something about the poem reminded me of a story I wrote for a writing workshop I did a couple of summers ago.

The original prompt was to write a story using only one syllable words. The original story was 260 words, but I pared it down for Pegman and tried to give it a more ‘local’ flavor to suit the location. It was fun and challenging to write but maybe not so fun to read. Sort of like the adventures of Dr. Suess’s criminal aunt Sheila.

Fulton Street

He didn’t have to stay, that was the thing. He had people in St. Louis.

“Not gonna sell,” he said. Replaced the bars with plywood and painted it green cause it was the color of money.

He was born on Fulton Street, in a brownstone three blocks up, east side. Back then no one lived on the west side—least not no one black.

“You just watch,” he said as he pasted up signs. “The neighborhood is coming back.”

He sold Coors fifty cent cheaper than Lees, but it ate away his profits. “I’ll make it back on smokes,” he said.

Then we watched the Murphy kid shot for no reason. Him just standing there, hand in pocket. And in six months’ time, he was robbed three times by the very people he was staying for. He watched the bank man tap up the notice.

“I didn’t sell,” he said.


150 words

This particular story was inspired by the history feature of Google maps. As I time traveled back to 2007, a story unfolded. Ultimately, I was not very happy with how my version turned out. It’s one of those stories Google Maps can tell better than I.

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2007 © Google Maps

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2009 © Google Maps

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2011 © Google Maps | Note the memorial on the telephone pole

 

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2014 © Google Maps

 

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2016 (Still in business) © Google Maps


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551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2017 © Google Maps | Note the notice of foreclosure tacked on.

 

551 N. Fulton Avenue, Baltimore MD | July 2018 Zillow Listing

The Lost Island

Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark © Titouan Pellerin Google Maps

Once MARGA seized Edinburgh, it was hard to hide. With one security camera for every ten people, he’d taken to going out at night. He’d slip down the dodgy alley between his flat and the Tesco, waiting for a lull before sneaking in.

He’d kept quiet when they cleared the city of immigrants. And when they passed the Decency Laws he’d only gone to a handful of resistance meetings before getting nervous. But now, with Enforcers cracking down on Conformance Laws, he had to get out. Thanks to FaceRead, his political leanings were as clear as the tilt of his jaw.

Tomorrow he was heading to the harbor and cutting ties on the most seaworthy skiff he could find.

He’d heard of a place—a lost island, free of MARGA—with more sheep than people. The North Atlantic in January was dangerous. But it was safer than staying here.

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.

I’m a little late to the party this week. Yesterday was one of those days where it was just plain hard to get motivated!

Anyway, to anyone who was interested in Ladane’s take on What Pegman Saw in Tehran, you can read her own story and thanks to the contributors.

My story this week was inspired by the rugged, remote beauty of the Faroe Islands and this little article in the Guardian which got my wheels spinning:

‘I was shocked it was so easy’: ​meet the professor who says facial recognition ​​can tell if you’re gay

Thanks for reading!

She Wore the Ring

Azadi Tower, Tehran, Iran © Avesta Naseri Google Maps

She wore the ring because it was easier. The story was always on hand as well: Her husband traveled. She had to work.

Of course, the ring didn’t work when she visited her family—which was why she kept those visits short, before When are you getting married turned to I’ve arranged for you to meet the most wonderful man.

They were never wonderful.

They looked at her suspiciously when she spoke of her career and were quick to reassure her that ‘she wouldn’t have to work’ were she to marry them.

Tehran was lovely, it was true. The museum, the arts. The jewel box of city lights strewn across the valley of night and the white-shouldered mountains in winter. Maybe there was such a place elsewhere—perhaps Europe or America. And maybe soon—before the men in parliament tried to force another law forbidding her to travel.

148 words

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

This week, I was inspired by this fascinating article in the Los Angeles Times which is well worth your time if you’re interested: More women in Iran are forgoing marriage. One reason? The men aren’t good enough

Apologies for those who took the time to read/comment/participate in Pegman last week. I was at a writer’s workshop and apologize for being so slow to read and respond. I am back!