What Pegman Saw: The one who made it home

 

 

He was one of the displaced after the war, I think.

Just one of thousands forced to flee along the river bank, pushed on by the stink of burning and blood, outpaced by the corpses floating downstream.

I don’t know why he stopped here. Perhaps he finally felt safe. Or he just couldn’t walk anymore.

Did he imagine getting old like this, sleeping on a palette bed by the river, earning a few riel carrying sacks of rice and bales of cane, arthritic joints growing gnarly as kapok tree roots? Nothing to his name other than one set of clothes, a string hammock, a battered water carrier.

As I take his wrist, check for a pulse I won’t find, I think how at peace he looks, how the young man he was still peeks from behind that old man’s death mask.

Perhaps he finally made it home.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as it’s inspiration. This week we visit Cambodia. See here to join in, share and comment.

Cambodia has had a traumatic past, years of war followed by atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. To learn more about the war, see here and see here to read about the reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.

 

 

 

 

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21 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw: The one who made it home

  1. This is such a beautiful, tragic piece. But you ended it very well. Sometimes men find peace just before the bell tolls like the thief on the cross.

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    1. I was only a kid through Pol Pot’s rule but I remember seeing the images on the news, the piles of skulls of those targeted by the Khmer Rouge, the reports of the millions killed by their own state. Cambodia looks like a beautiful country – Angkor Watt one of the wonders of the world – but whenever I hear the country mentioned all I can think of are the Killing Fields. Thanks for reading Josh

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  2. Hey, Lynn, I begin to tire of saying how great. But truth is, you’re very good at this Flash Fiction thing, of taking a photo and weaving around it a story full of pathos and a deep knowledge of the human condition. Enjoyed. Again. 🙂

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    1. Wow, thank you Crispina! That’s such a terrific comment and one I take very much to heart. Thank you. It means a lot. I’m relieved that emotion came through – Cambodia has such a terrible, disturbing history, I wouldn’t want to treat it lightly. Thank you very much for reading – and for your ongoing encouragement 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sad one, very vivid. Especially the end where his young man’s face peeks out beneath his old man’s death mask. That’s very heart wrenching, b/c he was so young & died. But I like the hope that wherever he is, he’s better, perhaps still young, but no war or terror in his new afterlife, no old man’s death mask either. Great writing Lynn. Hope you’re doing great 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much for all of your reading and your considered comments. You always think so deeply about the stories, it’s so nice to read your thoughts. Yes, sometimes when life has been unfairly tough on people it almost seems like an end to it all is the best they can hope for. Life brings suffering to us all but some have to endure so much more. Thanks again and I hope you’re well too 🙂

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      1. I’m good. Thank you Lynn I’m glad you like the comments. I’m thinking of a song right now. This singer sounds like Sia, but it’s not her.

        But her chorus is pretty much “This is not the end. This is not the end. This is not the end.” Your story very much reminds me of this, that we forget there’s always another day for change — that one bad day is not the end. But, then mental health and a mind circling too fast or thinking irrationally can cause great distress and hopelessness too. Hopelessness sometimes no words can help.

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      2. How right you are. Sometimes mental health issues spiral so far out of control, our brains are our own worst enemies. Perhaps it comes down to us still being programmed to look for threats from way back in our evolution. We still see danger and react to it even if it’s in our own heads. Thanks for your incisive comment

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