Category Archives: Flash Fiction

Thjodhild the Opinionated

Greenland | Google Maps

People believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. Like “Red”. Weren’t for his beard, I’ll tell you that.

Us, banished. Again. He didn’t want to tell me, either. That’s where the red came from. Him standing on the other side of the hide-door, shifting from foot to foot. “Thjodhild. I’ve got some bad news.”

“You can’t be murdering the neighbors. Have you murdered the neighbors again?”

Ever tried to cross the North Atlantic in a longship in September?

Not that I agree with the sentence, mind you. Fellow he killed was Eyiolf the Foul. Seems like he was doing the town a favor.

Anyway, Erik wanted to call it “Exileland”. Seriously. Hoping to build a colony in a brave new land by calling it a land of exiles. He never had no sense.

“What should we call it then, to bring back settlers?”

“Erik—you’re calling it Greenland.”

149 words

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

I couldn’t help having a little fun with the legend of Erik the Red by making his wife larger than life. Who knows what the real Thjodhild had to put up with, but I like thinking Erik wasn’t and Leif weren’t the only badasses of the family.

The Horse Thief’s Daughter

Victoria Dock, Caernafon, Wales | Pete Edwards 360uk , Google Maps

Today, a preamble rather than a postscript on my story:

When I see places as lovely as Portmeirion Village, Wales, I wonder what possessed my ancestors to leave such a lovely country. And then I remember there was probably some misbegotten criminal matter or some unseemly circumstance behind it. Which is how this story happened.

My grandma liked to say that the riderless horse on the family crest was because we were horse thieves from way back. And then there’s the matter of the childless fifty-something couple in Nebraska that suddenly gave birth to my great grandmother. Yes, there are all sorts of interesting things in history, I imagine.

The steward eyed her midsection as she boarded. “Yer husband be waiting in America?”

“Yessir.”

There was no husband. There was only a charming rogue and a fortnight of promises. Her hand curled to the growing curve of her belly.

“Yer name?”

“Eliza.”

“Eliza what?”

She cleared her throat. Giving her surname—even in this port—was risky. Her people were vagabonds and miscreants. It was no wonder she’d taken a bad path.

She would make it in America, though. She couldn’t heft a pickaxe, but where there were miners, there were hungry men who’d pay a shilling for a hearty cawl and brown bread. She’d take care of the young one now slumbering in her belly. Raise him as a widow and turn her life around.

Her eyes shifted to the barrels on the deck. She couldn’t read, but she knew the sounds of some letters. “Rawson,” she guessed.

150 words

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

The One That Is Not a Story, but Rather a Manifesto Against the Relentless Winter of 2019 and My Leaky Roof

A photo of me at Mt. Everest that is absolutely not Photoshopped. Really.

Snow came upon snow, a thick layer building on the broken-down gutters, until the pipe took on a slant from the weight. The driveway became a canyon of shoveled snow taller than the car.

“Thaw is coming,” we said, and smiled.

But when it did, the melt dripped from the kitchen ceiling, and the cabinets turned waterfall. Our hopes for spring turned to prayers for a freeze.

Winter delivered, layering slush upon ice upon snow.

Two days later, we had almost dug out. I rested against a snow shovel, watching the sunlight slanting through the icicles. A glacier sat poised on our eaves. An icefall glistened prettily down the side of the house. I pulled out my phone and checked the forecast. More cold, more snow, more thaw.

I grabbed an icepick and charged toward the house, hacking at the Khumbu icefall which was formerly our house.

Winter wasn’t beating me.

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.

Excuse the longer personal note. Two things I wanted to share with you:

1. I’ve been facing a metaphorical Everest myself these days—the icefall on my house only one of my challenges to overcome in 2019. I remain as determined as ever.

My dad had a plaque on his wall—one that would seem painfully ironic in light of his story—but it’s an inspiring truth to anyone who is unafraid of hard work and failure. If you have a dream you’re chasing, it’s a good one to keep in mind anytime you’re beset by setbacks.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
–Calvin Coolidge

2. My story had nothing to do with Everest, but I’m counting on the rest of you to entertain me with your marvelous Everest stories. Since I cheated (technically, I didn’t cheat, since I make the rules on Pegman, and a literal take on the prompt is never mandatory, BUT) this gives me a chance to show off some really great pictures of me at Mt. Everest, which are absolutely not at Photoshopped baahahahaha.

Another photo of me at Mt. Everest that is absolutely not Photoshopped. Really.

One more definitely not photoshopped picture of me at Everest.

3. Whee! Which actually makes this three things.

Don’t Be Koi

Songxicun, China | Gao Shian, Google Maps

The tea merchant’s daughter was as luminous as the full winter moon over Jade Dragon mountain, and one day, Lin Bao would marry her. This he decided when he saw her kneeling before the tranquil pool beneath the tea merchant’s shop. She was feeding a handful of sticky rice to the koi. She looked up, her dark eyes wide, her pink mouth abloom like an orchid.

“Oh,” he said. It was all he could think to say. He turned around and ran up the cobblestone street. His bare feet pounded fast as his heart as he hurried back to the two-room where he lived with his parents and brothers.

If he didn’t marry her, life wasn’t worth living. He smoothed his hair as he walked inside. There were so many things to do. To court, to woo, to win. And first of all, to learn her name.

148 words

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

That Clever Wasp

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

I had the dream again.

When was the last time I saw him, and did he bring my son? My son they thought I’d drowned, but didn’t.

Then it was tomorrow, then yesterday, then now, but the fog was so thick I could barely find the daylight. I made my way to the window, to place myself in Place, if I could not pin myself to time. Bedsheet around my neck.

I touched the glass, but didn’t feel it. On the other side, a hornet crawled my palm. My hand, that held the baby down.

That clever wasp was free.

100 words

Hello Fictioneers! It’s been awhile. I couldn’t resist some dark madness on this wintry morning when I saw this shot of an abandoned New Jersey mental hospital. If you’re familiar with the movie The Others, you’ll probably get where I was going with this. If you’re not familiar with it, you’ll probably think I’m mad. And you may be right 😉

Thanks to Rochelle for hosting this weekly party and thanks J Hardy for the inspiring photo. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, visit the links via the blue button below:

 

What I’m gonna leave and do?

Arron Glasgow, British Virgin Islands. BBC Interview https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-41218817


First came the wind
wasn’t no thing, but then,
the rain came blowing.
I was sleepin then my brother came running, say
we got to be closing up the blind.
But instead him and me just hanging. Him holding on to the window, and I just hold him.
Couple minutes later them winds come down, take my momma’s roof,
then mine, then the living room,
so we came running. Had to run.

Next day when the storm broke, this is what we see. This.
Now then, now then, look at me: couple shirt and a pants. This is all I have. This.
I think, look around, see. All I got is walls. This is what I have.

And so I say go. I say I wanna leave this place, I say want to give up and go.
But what I’m gonna leave and do?
Where I’m gonna go?


148 words

I can’t take the credit (or blame) for this story. I was deeply moved by this fellow’s interview, as he processed the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The British Virgin Islands was devastated by Irma in 2017. The damage from this storm has often been described as “like Hiroshima,” but such a description lacks the human toll such a storm can take. It’s hard to pick up the pieces when there are no pieces left.

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw, and a really shitty attempt at writing a vacation story, which was what this was intended to be.

To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

The Rewards of Persistence and the Benefits of Good Friends.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York | John Smith, Google Maps

“Just think. This time next year you’ll be in Iowa,” Charlie grinned. “I-o-wa,” he repeated, making it sound like a foreign country.

I hadn’t told him yet. The rejection from the Writers’ Workshop had come in the mail yesterday. I added it to my growing stack of MFA rejections. “I’ve been thinking it over. Maybe the world doesn’t need another New York City writer. Maybe I’ll just go back to the brokerage.”

“Brokerage,” he spat. “Are you crazy? You’ve got stories to tell.”

I kicked at the ground. “See, that’s the thing. Maybe all the stories have been told.”

“Nah. What’s that they say—that there are only six different plots.”

“Seven.”

“Seven, then. Only seven different plots and this world still hasn’t run out of ways of telling them.” He stepped closer, pressing a forefinger to my chest. “But there’s one way that’s missing.”

Beneath his finger, my heart beat on.

150 words

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