What Pegman Saw : Take me to the water

 

 

The faithful lined the banks of the river all year, churning the water to a thick brown soup of mud and prayer leaves.

The winters were the busiest now, as if God was more likely to grant relief from pain and suffering if the pilgrim had to crunch barefoot through frosted grass and stiff fringes of reed.

Prime didn’t want to believe in a god like that, but then he knew the secret. He knew the discarded crutches, the lives reborn, renewed, weren’t due to God at all.

Sometimes the knowledge made him flinch under the grateful tears, the blessings of the cured as he helped them, sodden, from the water.

He would lie awake wondering – did it matter? Was a cure any less a cure, however it happened?

Still, he crept to the water under cover of night to feed Them, to hear Their true voices.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the grand writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we’re in the Grand Canyon, Arizona. See here to join in, to share, read and comment.

39 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw : Take me to the water

  1. So richly endowed with many associations in my mind, Lynn—the mediaeval concept of the primum mobile, plus the River of Life, the pathetic relics of piety at Lourdes, the biological and fantasy meanings of ‘necrophage’—though I suspect few of these were at the back of your mind when you wrote this! Just shows how rich your writing is…

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    1. Haha! You’re way too knowledgeable for me Chris! Though I did visit Lourdes as a twelve year old (I’m not a Catholic, though went to Catholic school) and distinctly remember the grotto, the crutches hanging up, the crowds of pilgrims coming for the waters. And the plastic tat peddled by local traders cashing in on Bernadette and her visions – I came home with Holy Water in a Mary shaped bottle. A weird, weird place. Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment

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  2. Very intriguing! I’ve always been interested in (and dismayed by) the myths about healing waters This story would fit into Eneana perfectly — people believing one thing, and yet something entirely different is happening. I love how you lead up to the reveal at the end, and still only hint about who “They” might be.

    And what *is* that in the photo? This is one of the things I enjoy most about the What Pegman Saw challenge: getting to see what fascinating sights everyone else found when they explored around.

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    1. Thanks Joy. Yes, I liked the idea of something being different than how it’s perceived. I have a feeling the reality would terrify the pilgrims! The photo is a place called Ribbon Falls I found wandering round the Canyon – lovely isn’t it? Sounds like quite a hike to get there though. Thanks for reading Joy

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      1. Now you have me thinking of a continuation of the story – what might happen if people found out what was really happening in the healing waters? Some would be terrified, some want to attack, but others might be drawn to it. Hmm…

        Ah, Ribbon Falls makes a lot more sense to me when seen from other angles. In the shot you used, it looked like some kind of cave or built structure, and that guy was going to go inside.

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    1. Yes, definitely something … ungodly! If I’d had more words I might have expanded on the feeding, made it clear how unnerving They are. But never mind. Brevity is a good thing sometimes. Thanks for reading Crispina

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    1. I would agree, but the really well coded, sinister inference is… at what price does the healing occur? And why should we fear ‘them’? This is also reminding me of yesterday’s Doctor Who episode Lynn, it’s very believable world building. ❤

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      1. Thank you Pola! Yes, I had thought that perhaps there is a hidden agenda to Their healing the people so readily – are they taking something extra away with the ailments, implanting something in each of the cured? Could all turn out to be very messy. I haven’t watched the latest Dr Who yet, so I’ll look forward to that. Are you enjoying Jodie Whittaker’s take on the role?

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      2. Oh yes! She’s excellent, she has really taken to it and given it less of a grandiose, show-offy quality I think. She’s got this ability to be both pragmatic and very tender. Before the Doctor would reel off jargon like it was jargon only they knew but expected everyone to get the hang of, now Jodie’s in the role it’s like open source information on alien technology, to the point where you can half guess what the Doctor is on about before they explain it. To jump back to your work… yeah they could be weird symbiotic parasites or something! And she does a lot of jumping around in her dialogue which I can relate to. 😀

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      3. Glad you like her. Let’s hope she’s around a little while. I saw the Partition episode and was filling up near the end. I know it only skimmed the horrors of those days, but it will give people who’ve never heard of it some idea of how dreadful it must have been to live through those days. Can’t imagine

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      4. It was quite jarring thematically, with this very agrarian look one minute then this hi-tech grey the next – but I had to feel for the Vajarians at the end. Historically speaking nothing could ever do it justice, it’s so strange how the present can make us confront our past – but I really was moved by the film Viceroy’s House if you ever wanted to check that out on Youtube,

        I cried my eyes out at the end of that and sat there thanking the director for having made it. I truly believe that if you must carry a legacy, look for the parts you can be proud of – before deciding how much to own your shame – and indeed, how much of it is actually yours and what reparation you can make in future. Even if that reparation is simply forgiveness without forgetting.

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      5. I’d heard mixed reviews of Viceroy’s House, that it was a tad patronising. But I’ll keep an eye out for it. I know what you mean about that jumping around the episode of DR Who and you’re right, nothing could ever do that time justice. Scars that take a long time to heal

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      6. I actually found Abdul’s character in “Victoria and Abdul” to be a really smarmy, on-the -make guy, even though the film was meant (I think) to provide equilibrium in light of the smear campaign launched against him.

        I actually watched Viceroy’s House in Hindi because it just felt more authentic that way. They’re both gorgeous films to look at but the whole ‘white saviour’ narrative could be argued. As Amanda Craig once put it ‘[Daniel] was like a country under [Frances’] former colonial rule, glad to be free of her, but still somewhat fondly nostalgic.’

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      7. It’s always difficult, making films about colonial subjects. Even those sympathetic to the indigenous viewpoint are usually seen through Western eyes. The studios need to make money as well as make a valid social point so they need a name to draw in the punters. Cast all indigenous actors, film in the original language and you won’t make much money, won’t get a wide release. It’s a money game in the end. Interesting what you say about Victoria and Abdul.

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      8. Hmm, it’s definitely an issue of the business bottom line, not to mention that there are STILL (even with the huge influx of Scandi thrillers) people who don’t like reading subtitles.

        These are all brave efforts I would argue for the sake of existing – as some kind of industry equivalent of a class action lawsuit (many complainants = a stronger case but less individual compo per person.)
        Literally, “make anything to show we exist as a demographic.”

        But he who pays the piper calls the tune.

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      9. Movies are a business at the end of the day and studios need to make money to survive. That means using names to draw the crowds, wide releases etc. There must be notable, noble exceptions in the Indie film industry, but by their nature we don’t get to hear about them very often

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    2. Thank you Dale! I thought it an interesting idea that the healers might be ugly, frightening creatures and if so, would the pilgrims feel differently about their cures? Most of us prefer a pretty face! Thank you so much for your kind words 🙂

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  3. A world of sinister mystery awaits in this little confection. It’s like those fancy artisan chocolates that look like one thing, but inside something dark and intoxicating waits.

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