Category Archives: Flash Fiction

He’d Promised Her

Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C., USA | Marcel Wirtz, Google Maps

Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C., USA | Marcel Wirtz, Google Maps

They sat side by side on his mom’s couch, legs not quite touching. Sue Ellen twisted her hands in her lap when the announcer came on. Jimmy reached for her, but her eyes were fixed on the television.

“Let’s just watch.”

He swallowed. He’d promised to marry her next June. He’d promised her they wouldn’t bring back the draft, he promised her everything would work out okay. But now, instead of watching Mayberry RFD, or cruising Shoreline Drive, or necking out at the Point, they were here, doing this.

The congressman stepped up to the jar and pulled out the first capsule. Once in hand, he offered it to the official. The pair hardly dared to breathe as the capsule was opened, the strip of paper unwound from its case.

“September 14…September 14 is 001.”

Her breath caught; his head fell.

Of all the things they could have done instead.

150 words

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

To learn more about the 1969 Vietnam Draft Lottery, click here.

The Eagle Hunter

Jalman Meadows Wilderness Camp, Mongolia | Batdorj Oyun-Erdene, Google Maps

We made night-fire. Poppa was quiet as we passed the spit of roasted meat. He’d been quiet all day—ever since elder-son had told him he would not be an eagle hunter. He was going to the capital for second-school. Poppa had wished him well, but I knew the news unsettled him.

For four generations our people had been eagle hunters, a tradition passed down from father to son. But elder-son was the only son; around our fire were only girls.

“What about me?” I blurted.

In the still, I swallowed, hardly believing I had dared to ask. The heart-hope had beat in my chest for so long, unsaid. And now it was loose, like a stallion across the plains.

Poppa stared off, his eyes fixed on the vast expanse of our Wanderlands.

“I can learn, Poppa.”

He turned; he nodded. And in that instant, my heart began to soar.

150 words

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

Adelheide

The hills above Maienfeld, Switzerland | Nicolai Stotz, Google Maps

The hills above Maienfeld, Switzerland | Nicolai Stotz, Google Maps

When she last came here, she was not the one in the wheelchair.

She was abloom then—just like the alpine slopes blooming still. Back then, her heart beat mighty in her chest. Back then, she was the one racing up to the high meadows.

She remembered her first day, fresh-cheeked girl she was, filling her apron with flowers until it could hold no more—only to find them withered by the time she returned to the cottage.

“Grandma, look.”

The breathless girl had returned. In one chubby fist, she held out a fresh-picked bouquet.

Adelaide took the flowers. She was an old woman now, her own hand withered, a thorny crown of vein upon its bird-bone architecture.

An age had passed. A hundred civilizations had risen and fallen, and all that comprised the world of ago had been reinvented four times over.

And yet somehow, still—the mountain remained.

150 words

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

What Pegman Saw: Churchill Falls

Churchill Falls, Newfoundland & Labrador | Larry Flemming, Google Maps

“Where’s the falls?”

Larry eyed the man who stood on the other side of the station counter, in his cargo pants and tan vest with its abundance of pockets. They didn’t get many strangers around here, even in spite of the fact the Trans-Labrador Highway was the only highway in the whole of the province. “What falls?”

“Churchill Falls.”

Larry leaned back, grinning. “Well you’ve found it then, man. You’re here. This Churchill Falls.”

The man turned over his shoulder, confused as he eyed the long rows of flat-topped buildings. He cleared his throat. “I meant the water falls.”

“Oh,” Larry said. For Churchill Falls had housing and shopping and stores. It had an army of steel lattice soldiers stringing cable from the power plant to every corner of the region. But the one thing they did not have was a waterfall. Not anymore.

150 words

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

My apologies for being late to my very own party. I’ve been fighting a virus.

Churchill Falls is a company town, however he Falls for which the town is named were dammed up in 1970.

Special thanks to Google contributor Larry Flemming, who took many of the wonderful photospheres of this region. Thanks to Larry we all got to see and learn more about this lovely region of the world.

It Be Truth

Rasgado’s Jazz Club, Baía Farta, Angola | Claudio González Jorge, Google Maps

“What do you call it?”

“Jazz.”

Razi leaned back in his chair, puffing his cigar as the trio of musicians packed their instruments. This was not jazz. He knew jazz. He’d spent his greening years in New Orleans—the very birthplace of jazz. This was no Congo Square swing—all blare and brass. It wasn’t even the rhythmic roots of it, which owed its soul to the brothers and sisters sold from these shores. No, this was something different.

As a boy he’d played a game they called ‘telephone’, where the children sat in a circle. One child would whisper something—sometimes a secret—but usually a lie. Each child would whisper to the next, passing the lie from ear to mouth until it became something else entirely—something bigger and brighter and more fabulous. And sometimes, by the time it made it back, it be truth.

147 words

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

 

 

Employment at Will

86 Serangoon Rd
Singapore | Google Maps

It was seven floors down the fire escape, a 15-foot drop, and then 11 blocks to a shelter for girls like her. Girls who had believed the agents’ lies.

She’d been there 8 months, but had barely made a dent in the fees: the visa, the papers, the travel, the commission. The earnings to send back to her family were a dimly remembered dream.

She touched the bruise on her cheek. The swelling from her last beating had gone down enough that her vision was restored. If she stayed, there would be more of this.

She thought of her family back home in Myanmar, of their scant rice and the thin soup. If she ran away, there would even less to go around. It would fall on them to pay the agent’s fee.

She stared out at the stairs, the street, the moonlight—then closed the blinds and turned inside.

150 words

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

Inspired by From Myanmar to Singapore: Why the maid trafficking continues.

The Village Above the Clouds

Somewhere in Laos | Torsten Bachner, Google Maps

Today was lucky, she could feel it. She puffed an ember until caught beneath the pot of vegetables. When she was satisfied the fire was burning, she slipped out into the dark.

She was a hard worker. The man who came to put them in the television show had said so. As second daughter-in-law she had to be, for it fell on her to kindle the fire and make the morning breakfast. Beyond the morning chores that she alone must do, there was wool to spin, water to carry, rice to dry, and herbs to find along the way, in case any sickness came.

She looked out across the mountains. Purple tinged the sky in a way that signaled dawn. In the hen house, she slipped a slender hand beneath one snoring bird and then another. Treasure, so much treasure. Today, there would be eggs.

150 words

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

Inspired by this video: The Akha tribe in Laos: Between tradition and modernity | DW Documentary