Category Archives: what pegman saw

What Pegman Saw – Three Stayed Back

Frenchman's Cap

Frenchman’s Cap, Tasmania | Mungo Jones, Google Map

Here on this hill, we stayed back. We watched the other survivors pluck their way down the mountainside, past the burned shell of the fuselage, until the half-dozen figures were lost among the rocks and landscape; wondering, hoping, waiting.

We turned our eyes skyward and watched for rescue planes that never came and comforted the girl who grew tired as the hours turned to days, shivering even as we bundled our parkas around her, and gave her the last of the thin crackers wrapped in foil which we found amidst the wreckage of holiday baggage and broken bodies which were strewn upon the slope. And as waited, we told rescue stories which started out with big headlines and TV interviews, but then were more about meat pies and brown trout cooked on a fire, and finally just about living long enough to say goodbye to the ones who mattered most.

150 words

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

Sorry so late! I never could get my first take completed to my satisfaction, so I abandoned it and wrote a new one! This is actually a photo of a climbing expedition and plane crash survivors, but there was something kind of forlorn in there which inspired this story.

A Fresh Start

S Railway Ave Drinkwater, Saskatchewan | Google Maps

S Railway Ave Drinkwater, Saskatchewan | Google Maps

“But Papa, he wants to marry me.” Her cheeks were bright. Whether it was from chill or passion he couldn’t say. He rested a hand on his shovel and studied her. Loosed from its braid, a strand of her hair waved in the wind.

He had plans when they pulled up stakes in Iowa and came to this featureless flat—plans that did not include marrying his sixteen-year old daughter to a handyman fifteen years her senior. “You’ll do no such thing,” he said.

“You don’t understand. We’re in love.” At that, her hand went to the curve of her belly.

It was a gesture he knew all too well, having seen it from his wife eight times these past twenty years. He understood all right. He understood there was no such thing as a fresh start.

137 words

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

I have a personal connection to Saskatchewan so I took this opportunity to fictionalize a page from my family tree. My grandmother was born in Saskatchewan. My great-grandfather is the handyman of this tale, and the headstrong girl is my great-grandmother.

Helene in a Fur Coat

The Fur ("Het Pelsken") by Peter Paul Rubens, 1630s

“Let it slip from your shoulder my kleine bruid.”

Helene blushed. The negotiations had begun an hour ago, leaving her petticoats in a pile on the divan, her corset slung over the chair, and her red dress on the floor beneath her like a rug. Only the fur was left.

“But husband, people will see this painting. The Janssens. The Duponts. The mayor.” Her breath hung in a cloud in the chilly studio.

He tilted around the easel to peer at her. “Indeed. And when the Lady Janssens’s raven tresses have gone gray, when the mayor’s bones have turned to dust in his grave, and when the mortar has crumbled on the Dupont château, and the last stone falls, you will still be fresh as dew. You will forever be the meadow bloom of the sweetest May morning. You will be immortal.”

She let the coat fall to her waist.

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.

Rubens spent the last ten years of his life in Belgium, where this photo of his second wife was painted. This was my attempt to decipher curious mix of wonder and triumph in her face.

The Last Ghost

Htauk Kyant War Memorial Cemetery  Yaozai Huang

Htauk Kyant War Memorial Cemetery, Myanmar | Yaozai Huang, Google Maps

He woke up, the bed sheets damp beneath him. He sat up. Outside, the full moon glared through the window.

Some dreams fell away upon waking like a child’s sandcastle at high tide. But some dreams perch at the foot of one’s bed like a fishwife.

When they’d relocated the ghosts from Tatkon, he’d known it would be challenging. Ghosts, as a rule, were difficult—always wanting to ride front, and often playing pranks with the vehicle’s electrical system. They were vain, they were tricksters, they were quick to take offense. But the worst thing you could do to a ghost was forget it.

He pushed the covers aside and reached for his pants. He must call the natsaya. They must get to the cemetery immediately.

126 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 What Happened to Myanmar’s Ghosts. Apparently, in Myanmar, ghost relocation is a thing!

Run to the Jungle

Port Kaituma, Guyana | Martin Samaroo, Google Maps

There are moments that unfold like hours, and then there are those that hold a lifetime.

“Get in the jungle,” her father screamed from the stairs of the plane.

She looked down. Her mother’s body lay lifeless on the tarmac, a pool of blood where her trademark dandelion puff of blond hair should be. Her mother; a deck of images flashed through Tracy’s mind: the church in Charleston, the lemon cake Mom made for birthdays, her singing hush, little baby; her mother, gone. The men and their guns out of sight for now.

“Run.” His face was frantic. She turned. Her sister was running into the thick of it—the jungle that had seemed so frightening when they got there—the jungle full of centipedes and snakes and jaguars. The jungle as thick with danger as it was with darkness—even during the day.

It was the safest place to be.

151 words

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

Inspired by Childhood Jonestown Survivor Recounts Desperate Escape into the Jungle as Cult’s Mass Suicide Killed Over 900

Fate and Faith

Barkal Mountains & pyramid | Jiří Chaloupka, Google Maps

“This is as far as I take you, brother.”

He had learned not to try to bargain with the Alodians. One trying to knock a few coins from the cost of an escort would find themselves paying double by the time negotiations were done. “I thank you for your service,” he said.

The Alodian had been a good guide and a loyal guard on the road to Egypt. He was grateful to have made it this far with provisions intact.

The guide squinted at him, his face as weathered at the stones of ancient Memphis. “How will you make it across the Nubian? It is said there are no oases.”

He stared into the distance to where the sun was veiled in a scrim of dust. His bride was out there, on the other side of this endless ocean of sand.

His fate was with the gods now.

148 words

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

Gaslit

Overbrook Lunatic Asylum, Cedar Grove, New Jersey | Google Maps

“You drove the car in the lake, darling. Don’t you remember?”

“I did?”

“You did.”

She looked down at her hands, her fingers tangled in her lap. It was so hard to keep straight anymore—these things he was telling her. The electroshock hadn’t helped like they’d promised. She’d no sooner make her way through the fog of it and it would be time for another session. She couldn’t even remember getting behind the wheel that night.

“And Amelia rescued the children?”

“That’s right, dear.”

It was so hard to wrap her head around it, all those things he said she’d done. And then to realize she’d imagined the part about walking in on him and the nanny.

He patted her leg. His hand felt cool, even through the thin fabric of her hospital gown. “Don’t worry darling. Amelia will take care of everything while you’re gone.”

147 words

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