What Pegman Saw : Beyond the Pale

 

Indri was already running, sandals slapping flagstones. ‘I know where they’ll come out!’

His legs were longer than Pina’s and he’d soon rounded the corner of the alley, dodged a pomegranate seller, vaulted the legs of Zaru the beggar, careening into the opposite wall before stumbling on. Complaints rang around her.

‘That boy!’

‘Pina, tell your brother -‘

She yelled her apologies, tucked her head down and ran after him. ‘Indri! Where are we going?’

But soon the city gate was looming overhead and she knew – outside the wall.

‘The Pale?’ she yelled. ‘You think they’ll come out at the Pale?’

Outside the protection of the city walls, where traitors were executed, where outcasts cried and screamed for home.

Indri had stopped under the golden halo of the gate.

She came panting to his side. ‘What …?’

He pointed towards the baked earth of the Pale as it cracked open.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Stretview. See here to share, read and comment. Today, we visit Mdina in Malta.

So, what do you think is coming out of the earth? I have my own ideas, but I’d like to hear yours.

Notes

The Pale – a term borrowed from County Down, Ireland when governed by the English.

Beyond the pale – There were many ‘Pales’ (a term that signified home ground, being within paling, meaning fencing) and to be beyond it means going outside the confines of what is acceptable.

 

 

 

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What Pegman Saw : What me and Tolly heard at the top of the stairs

Nights, me and Tolly would creep out of bed to sit on the top step. Toes curled against the chill, we’d listen to the grown-ups sing songs from the old country.

Sometimes they’d start with a jig, a tune slapped out on the catcall piano, pedals squeaking, drowning out hammered strings. Some nights, the mood was heavy, the air thick with tobacco and gin. Those nights were for sad songs of missed, misty mountains, lost love and lost virtue. After the doors were bolted, the singing would zigzag to silence along the street below.

One night Tolly was dozing, head knocking my shoulder, when the voices turned sour as the air. The piano lid crashed shut. A scuff of boots. A sound like a sack of flour dropped to the floor.

The next night there was one less voice at the piano.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its kick off point. This week we are at the Billinidgel Hotel in New South Wales, Australia. See here to join in, share and read others.

 

 

What Pegman Saw : In the arms of Crooked Woman

We left Papa under the tree the old people call Crooked Woman – wrapped in palm leaves, bound with strips of knotted cloth.

The night before I’d shifted rocks from beneath the tree, made space enough for his slight form to lie. I sang as I hefted boulders, old songs Papa taught me when we set nets in the river, as we climbed fig trees, gripping bark with knotted toes, stowing plump fruit in our bags.

I set a basket of best black figs and a comb of honey at his feet. The honey dripped into the dull water as the river rose, as waves licked the rocks and kissed the sands. His body held tight to Crooked Woman for a while, a child reluctant to take his first step.

The river took him at sunset, as the water turned gold as honey, as we sang a last goodbye.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview. See here to share, to read and comment.

 

Friday Fictioneers : The day Chaucer beat Gramma Mags

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria


 

Florence gazed up through the old cypress tree at a speckless sky.

The tree listed to the west, its bark wizened, branches balding. Gramma Mags had instructed Morris to cut it into logs, burn it through the blistering winter to come.

But one autumn afternoon over cucumber sandwiches and slabs of Madeira cake, Florence read from Dickens, Bunyan, Shakespeare, Chaucer until the sun set prickly through the leaves. She rubbed the trunk with pinked fingers.

‘This tree’s older than them all, Gramma.’

Gramma had nodded, pulled her shawl tight against the wind. ‘Best knit me another shawl then,’ she said.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the picture and hone your own story. See here to share, read and comment.

Notes

For those of you unfamiliar with any of the literary figures mentioned above –

Charles Dickens

John Bunyan

William Shakespeare

Geoffrey Chaucer

What Pegman Saw : They come

‘They come at night.’

It is the last clear thing Hutter says. Afterwards there is only the hint of words amid the sweats and anguished mumbles.

As Frau Weber gives over her second best bed sheet for the binding, the party is solemn but nothing more – death is an unwelcome but assumed companion on such an arduous journey.

Then Oma Jansen passes, slumped over her washing stone like a bundle of her own laundry. I sense true fear after Uwe dies. A big man – strong as a bull – falling like a rotten larch. No one speaks of it but later prayers echo loud in the darkness.

It is only after my Margarethe goes that I remember Hutter’s words … at night.

The sun sinks behind the mountain for the last time. Something shifts through the fir trees, sending crows laughing skyward. Cold metal presses against my throat.

Margarethe, I come.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Streetview. This week we are in Yellowstone National Park and what a place. See here to join in, to read and comment.

 

 

 

 

The Daily Post : The patience of Della

 

Della had always been patient.

As a child she would sit at the scrubbed kitchen table, feet swinging from the too-high chair as she fumbled at chunky wooden jigsaw pieces, turning each in stubby fingers. It might take her all day to finish the puzzle, but she would. Every time.

‘She’s no Brain of Britain,’ her Mum was often heard to say. ‘But that girl has the patience of Job.’

And so it was with Dougie.

She first saw him in 1982 as he bent over the water fountain in the playground. Perhaps it was his cold blue eyes that attracted her, or the mole shaped like Africa on the back of his wrist. Whatever it was, Della knew one day they would be together.

Dougie didn’t notice her through school. Never saw her in the shivering crowd each Saturday at the village football matches where he played centre forward. Didn’t acknowledge her when she worked behind the bar at the White Hart, even though she always had a pint of mild waiting for him.

Through his two marriages, three children, two messy divorces, Dougie never noticed Della. Not until the day she wrote off his Ford Cortina with her Electric Orange Datsun Cherry.

Wedding number three – number one for Della – was planned to perfection. Unsurprising as she had been thinking of little else for twenty-four years. But as the first day of their honeymoon dawned, Della had to use more concealer than was usual and despite the July heat, she picked a long sleeved polo neck for their stroll along Blackpool front.

Five weeks later Della filed for divorce. She was patient but – despite what her mother thought – she was not stupid.

 


Written for the Daily Post’s prompt – Patience. See here to join in.

 

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : The revenge of Dinah

 

 

Dinah tucked up her skirts and stepped into the green water, the mud sucking at the heels of her boots. Five steps in she crouched, careful not to let her petticoats drop – getting smeared in algae would warrant a beating.

She gazed into the periwinkle eyes. The fact he still had eyes meant he’d been dead less than a day. Yellowed, smashed teeth showed through puffy lips. His nose was broken, knuckles bloodied – he’d fought back.

The ink swallow on his neck marked him as a sailor, one of the many that swarmed the docks, drinking, whoring, fighting. Mama kept the girls inside when a new ship docked, in case.

Dinah stood, the disturbed water shifting his pale hands as if he was about to swim. She placed one muddy boot in the centre of his chest and pushed, watched the periwinkle eyes submerge.

‘Goodbye to bad rubbish,’ she said.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its inspiration. This week we visit Treasure Cay in the Bahamas – beautiful but with a sometimes less than glamorous history. See here to join our growing throng, read and comment do.

When looking into the history of the Bahamas, I was tempted by tales of pirates and seafarers, but English Puritans settled there too and I wondered what happened when those groups of people met. See here for further history of the islands and here for an interesting post about pirates and tattoos.

And here is the story of the Biblical Dinah.