Category Archives: Flash Fiction

And Thus, the Oporto Was Lost

Marina da Afurada, Porto, Portugal | © sstefan, Google Maps

All superstitions had been observed for the journey, even the ‘spilling of blood’, which conveniently occurred on its own when the bosun and cooper came to blows over the affections of a blue-eyed whore at a brothel in Matosinos.

A plump gray kitten was secured to bring the journey luck. The quartermaster even purchased a caul from a local midwife. They’d waited to set sail until the first day free of rolling clouds and red dawns. They’d even brought a priest to accompany them on the journey.

Portuguese sailors were notoriously uneasy about weather, and the winds blew ill in the North Sea even in the best of times. Thus, they were reassured by the priest’s presence and the promise of daily mass.

But when the storm came, the fools ran to the quarterdeck for a holy water blessing instead of manning the sails. And thus, the Oporto was lost.

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 End of Mother Goddess

Cuevas de Zugarramurdi |  © Ernesto Vizcaino Abad, Google Maps

“Explain yourself,” the Inquisitor-General said. As he paced, his long cape billowed behind him. The woman rambled on, the sounds of her language a puzzle to his ears.

When she finished, the Basque translator turned. “She says they have done nothing wrong. That it is just—how you say—a ‘woman’s meeting.’”

The man snorted. “What nonsense is that? What good can come of a ‘meeting of women?’”

The translator turned, a tangled string of sounds issuing from his lips as he asked her. She answered.

“She says it is there they pass down the ancient wisdom. That they teach how to prepare the leaves that ‘bring the moon’, and what herbs will cure cangrejo. These cures render prayer unnecessary. She says this is sacred wisdom, passed mother to daughter, since the time of Mother Goddess.”

The Inspector-General walked closer, nodding. The woman dipped her head.

“Now we’re getting somewhere.”

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.

Sorry I’m so late this week. I wrote a story I didn’t like, and wanted to do another one. I then promptly fell into a rabbit hole of fascinating research about the Basque Witch Trials that had me wishing I had more time to know this topic. As it is, this is 90% made up…

Or is it?

Looking forward to everyone’s stories this week!

Karen

We Three Girls

Ghana | Google Maps

Back when we was just girls, we three, we’d walk back on Sundays, red dust kicking up on church shoes, Mawusi always in the blue dress—and we’d share her an ear of tender corn, or some days two fists of banku, and we’d walk slow so she had time to eat it, talkin’ bout things the preacher said, and which we thought was sinning most—them sneaking in late to the back row still smelling like Saturday rum—us making Mawusi laugh teasing her ‘bout Teon who said he’d marry her someday. But he didn’t have a slant roof over his fool head, and no prospects beyond a strong arm. The only thing that boy was rich in was love for poor Mawusi, her with the hungry ma and the seven sisters, their eyes as big as empty plates.

Don’t know why she had to go and marry Big Aagha.

151 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.

What Pegman Saw: What Love is Like

Hanoi, Vietnam | © Wonov.com, Google Maps

“Hey,” he said.

He. Said. Hey.

Then—and again just now. A husky-voiced hey as warm as a caress. Like he’d been waiting for me to turn around—his lush lips curved on the word. And it felt like a fast turn on the back of a motorcycle. My skin was buzzing and my heart was cartwheeling and every single cell of my being went to riot or revolution.

It’s true I got the flu later. My mom likes to point that out. “That wasn’t love,” she laughs. “That was the flu.”

But it happened back then and it was happening now, and it happened every single time I looked at him: that feeling of a fast ride on a steep curve. And I never got the flu again—it was just that one time. That was not the flu. It was love.

140 words

Totally cheated this week. This is not related to the location but rather what the photo made me think of.  When I thought about this picture, all I could think about was what it feels like to ride on the back of a motorcycle–a subject I once wrote about–and so I lifted this excerpt from a finished work I did.

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

What Pegman Saw: The Wedding Party

Grand Hotel, Mackinaw Island, U.P., Michigan | © Luna Tech, Google Maps

 

“Was it something I said?” Chloe said, eyes wide.

He sighed and shook his head. His mother was always making a scene. It was always her with the shrill scream in the fine restaurant; her with the foot stomp in the jewelry store. And just now—her flinging the croquet mallets across the lawn over a little change in dinner plans.

“It’s okay. I’m sure she’ll be fine,” he said.

“We can do the rehearsal dinner earlier. It’s no big deal.”

“Nonsense, darling. What’s a rehearsal dinner without the bride’s parents?” he wrapped an arm around Chloe’s shoulder and kissed her.

She frowned in the direction of the hotel. “I’m sorry my parents couldn’t come earlier. With Ben in intensive care, they couldn’t—”

“Look at me.”

Chloe turned.

He brushed her hair back and kissed her brow. “Listen to me. It’s time for my mother to grow up.”

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.

What Pegman Saw: Qausuittuq

Resolute, NU, Canada | © Google Maps

The boy shivered against him. He wrapped one sealskin clad arm around him and pulled him closer.

In the orbit of candlelight opposite, Aput glared, her eyes as dark as the perpetual night.

There was no point in arguing with her again. A hungry wife was an angry wife. However, it wasn’t as if they’d had a choice. And the government man had promised good hunting, in a land free of white ways. He said they could return to tribal life.

But here in Resolute, game was sparse. And who could hunt in this endless night? He peered up at the stars, winking through the vent of the igloo.

“We should leave,” she said.

He forced a smile. “It will get better. Tomorrow will be better.”

She snorted, her eyes narrowing. “How will we know when it’s tomorrow? In a place with no dawn, tomorrow never comes.”

148 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.

Qausuittuq is the Inuit word for “place with no dawn”. You can read more about the High Arctic Relocation on which this story is based on Wikipedia.

I Will Be Remembered Forever

Pripyat, Ukraine | © Krystian Machnik, Google Maps

“I got it,” he said.

She hurried back to the kitchen. He sat at the table, the paper trembling in his broad hands. He held it out like precious parchment and not the government-issue letterstock it was. She took it, eyes stitching the length of the letter. “Where will it be?”

“Across from the market. Between Residence Ten and Twelve. Everyone will see it when they go to market. Everyone.”

She sat down, letting the letter rest on the table. “Have you decided what it will be?”

He stared past the bare light fixture, far beyond the cracked ceiling, his chiseled jaw proud. “It must be something grand, of course. Something inspiring. It must memorialize our great men. Our noble history. Oh Oksana—everyone will see this work. I will be remembered forever.”

She leaned forward, her small hand shelled over his, her eyes tender. “You will, solnishko. You will.”

150 words

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

This week’s location (Chernobyl) was especially fascinating to me. I could easily lose a morning, a day, or even a weekend, just wandering the streets. There’s something about urban decay that really makes me think about the transient nature of art, and life, and well… everything.