What Pegman Saw: A little spare

Image: Google Earth

A group of boys were hanging out in the shelter of the bridge. Twelve to fourteen years old, skinny backsides slipping out of baggy jeans and cargo pants. They weren’t up to much – drinking, smoking, tossing rubbish and rocks in the lake. Old enough to get into trouble.

Maybe that’s where her Gabino would be in ten years time, hanging out with his cousins, boys from the neighbourhood. Boys with connections.

Marcia shivered, lit the second cigarette of her rest break. She was lucky. Her job was better paid than many, meant she had a little money spare each month as long a no extra expenses came up. If mother could only stay well enough to care for Gabino while Marcia worked, their little family might stand a chance.

She dropped her cigarette stub on the foreshore, pressed the final light from the ash as the phone in her pocket vibrated.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Earth as its prompt. See here to join in.

Jane Dougherty’s Words and pictures poetry challenge: The Whisperer

Michael_E._Arth_-Moscow_Metro-_oil_painting,_1980

Tasha had taken the cold journey from home in her stride. She examined every passersby closely: the women with their head scarves in shades of mud; the men’s faces hidden by Party caps, their hunched, overcoated shoulders.

She watched the trams and buses jostle through the city, along Gorky Street. The child hardly spoke, her expression curious but calm – she hadn’t reached for her grandmother’s hand once, not even when a milkman’s horse reared as they crossed the road.

‘This way, Tasha.’

The girl followed Ludmilla obediently, wide, dark eyes everywhere as they entered the metro station. The vaulted roof was golden and blood red with Soviet stars, chandeliers and mosaic tiles blinding in electric candlelight.

Ludmilla caught a glimpse of Tasha’s reflection as they rode the escalator to the next platform. That river of brunette hair, the narrow, pale face – she could almost be her Kaya at that age.

The golden station glittered and dissolved. She turned away, not wanting her tears to be seen. Her poor, betrayed Kaya.

A small hand slid into Ludmilla’s and she shivered. ‘Aren’t you looking forward to me getting my special prize, Babushka?’

‘Of course,’ said Ludmilla, trying to smile.

Tasha held her hand for the rest of their journey and it took all Ludmilla’s strength not to scream.

***

During the Soviet period, children were actively encouraged to inform on adults, even if they were relatives – even if they were their parents. See the story of Pavlik Morozov. Though the truth of the Pavlik legend is contested, the fact he was hailed as a hero by the Soviet state is not.

Written for Jane Dougherty’s Words and pictures poetry challenge. And what a fabulous painting she’s chosen. It’s entitled Moscow Metro and it’s by Michael E. Arth. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be a poetry challenge, but Jane was happy for me to write prose, so here it is.

What Pegman Saw: Folly

Image: Google Earth

‘What’s the point of it?’

The tower was five storeys high – bruised white washed walls, red corner stones, an onion dome roof.

Steph shook her head. ‘No point. Just a wealthy man showing off. That’s why they call them follies.’

Up close what had looked like a wooden door was just painted plaster, the grain worked in with a fine brush. It was cold under his hand, the surface slightly damp.

‘So, are there rooms inside?’ he said.

Steph peered at her guidebook. ‘Says here – the brick and plaster construction was thought to be solid until 1996 when a scan revealed a hollow chamber inside.’

Dai’s fringe flopped over his eyes. He gave her a lopsided smiled. ‘Like a burial chamber?’

Steph rested her hand on his, fingers curling round his. ‘Like a prison,’ she whispered.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its jumping off point. This week we visit French Polynesia. See here to join in.

Friday Fictioneers: Love Letter

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

The stomp of boots echoes up the narrow stairwell.

Anton scrambles out of bed to the attic room door, rams the bolt home. His fingers describe a sigil in the air as he mutters a holding spell. It won’t stop them, but it might buy him time.

On his desk, a manual typewriter – black and gold, antique. He creates another spell over the keys and begins to type…

…In a cottage in the deep forest, an identical typewriter rattles to life, the keys tapping out a message.

I am discovered. Take the children. Never stop running. Love always.

A

***

Written for Rochelle Wissoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt picture and write a tale. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw: Madam Light (Post number 1,000)

Image: Google Street View

To the Bobbies she’d give the names Molly Brand, Moll Prate, Maggie Gardener, according to her whim. But to us of the rookery she was always Madam Lighthouse – Light if she looked on you kindly.

It was Light who used the cabbies, the bill posters, the street sweepers and hawkers as her eyes and ears, gave protection in exchange for all they knew.

It was Light who warned us of fresh-faced beat coppers out for an easy collar, of gangs bringing their own toms and dippers into our patch. And when sober requests to move on were rebuffed, it was Madam Light’s boys who did what had to be done.

She shined bright, steady as Dover’s white cliffs, for twenty glorious years.

Until this morning.

She was found in her chair, boots on the grate, pipe hanging slack from her lips.

Light snuffed out.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as inspiration. This week we visit Silver Bay, Minnesota. See here to join in.

NB

Rookery – dense collection of houses, especially slums.

Bobbies/coppers – policemen (I would say ‘police officers’ but in the Victorian period in which this story is based, there were only male officers).

Toms – prostitutes.

Dippers – pickpockets.

Last month was Word Shamble’s fifth anniversary and this is my 1,000th blog post.

The blog has developed over time – I’ve tried humour, book-based posts, a serial and now mainly write flash fiction. I’ve had a lot of fun and ‘met’ a lot of lovely people – both in the UK and abroad.

Thanks to all who’ve read and commented over the last 1,000 posts, my WP family. Hope you can hang around for the next 1,000.

What Pegman Saw

Screen Shot 2020-03-14 at 3.02.49 PM

Another share of the cracking writing prompt, What Pegman Saw which this week visits Silver Bay Minnesota. I’ll be joining in tomorrow, but in the meantime, why don’t you run along ahead, take a look around and see what you can find. Visit HERE to join in.

Today Pegman finds himself in the once-great forests of Minnesota in the American Midwest.  Your mission is to wander around using the google photosphere until something inspires you to write 150 words. When you’re satisfied, post your link to this week’s InLinkz site to share with your fellow participants. Remember, reading and commenting on other stories is part of the fun.

Friday Fictioneers: The Three Graces

PHOTO PROMPT © Ceayr

The women gathered at the fountain each day: Elodie – her single, long brow dipped in a frown, always a fresh hole in the same, worn smock; Ottilie – tugging her sleeves to cover the bruises; Maribel – pregnant for the seventh time despite the empty cradle at home.

Other women came and went, cooling hot cheeks in the fresh water. But these three would stand apart, heads so close their hair mingled, their voices lost below the burble of water.

One thing is true – they all vanished on the same day, leaving the water to speak alone.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers, the best writing prompt on WordPress. See here to join in the fun.