What Pegman Saw: Lost, found, stolen

Image: Google Maps

We were led along a narrow lane into the backyard of a house. A hosepipe coiled round the base of a banyan tree – emerald green and dusty – an equally dusty tortoiseshell cat coiled on a nearby garden chair.

The gallery was a wooden construction built onto the back of the house, the roof glass, letting in any dappled light that escaped the clutches of the banyan.

Sonny handed his kyats over to the elderly artist and strode in. I watched the twitch of his shoulders through his sweat-soaked shirt as he moved from one image to the next. The trip had been good for us. Time to heal, learn how to be a couple again, not a family.

‘Kim.’ An edge in his voice.

A painting. A little girl with Sonny’s charcoal eyes, my ash-blond hair. Our little girl, holding the ragged Mr Ted we buried with her.

***

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

Friday Fictioneers: Ruins

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Papa kept the photographs in a drawer in his study.

‘My portraits’, he called them, though when Meggy drifted in one long and listless Sunday she found no faces, only photographs of old buildings. The shiny surfaces snagged her fingertips, as if the spires and stained glass were reaching, tugging at her.

Decades later, when his camera had long since been boxed away, she would find the old man dozing, blanket tucked round skinny knees, the images hanging from his lose grip.

She wondered if he’d realised back then that people, like buildings, become ruins of themselves.

***

Written* for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Do visit here to take part and join this merry band of super talented people.

*Also written in my kitchen, while a builder friend fixes our boiler … along with the climate, the upcoming election and Brexit!

What Pegman Saw: Forever Change

Image: Google Street View

The island speaks of forever.

Rock the colour of a whale’s back. A fathomless sea that leaps into the sky, swallowing the horizon .

Everything is as it has always has been and I want to be part of it, lie in the waves, let the barnacles clump my skin, the worms burrow into the warren of my bones.

A dash of red draws my eye, the colour so bright it hurts. The colour of pillar boxes, of telephone kiosks and buses, of change.

I want to be alone with the sea, but the colour grows, becomes a girl in a red dress. She battles her hair, the skirt that tangles round her calves. She bends, plucks shells from the whale’s back, tucks the stolen treasures in her pocket.

She smiles as she passes, the shells jingling, that smile pulling me back to life, the possibility of change.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week we visit Guyana. See here to join in – it’s a fantastic prompt, so do come along.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #52: The world turned on its head

CCC#52

The ground was autumn-crisp with leaves despite the heat. The oaks along the rivers’ edge black fingers, bare as winter.

‘Not right,’ muttered Clem, knocking the underbrush with his boot.

A fir cone tumbled through the dead leaves and came to rest against a fleshy crescent of Maid’s Bane fungus. Bluebell spikes shivered.

‘World’s turned on its head,’ said Clem.

The sheepdog, Tab, looked up at his master, uncertain.

Gramma Cora – all gums, mottled scalp and whiskers – had told tales when Clem was small. When winter takes summer’s hand, when spring lifts her skirts and dances autumn’s jig … He frowned how did that old rhyme end?

Tab came suddenly to heel, his flank quivering against Clem’s leg.

‘What is it, lad?’

A feather of snow fell on the back of his neck. Soon the ground was white, the air a haze.

‘The Final Winter shall fall,’ he whispered.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge. It’s a pleasure to join in this week to help Crispina celebrate a year of CCC. Do visit here to join in – it’s huge fun.

What Pegman Saw: The unforgiving sand

Image: Google Street View

When I was a little girl, sand meant days at the beach building castles with a bucket and spade. Once the work was done we’d sit back and admire our hard work, eat shrimp paste sandwiches with crusted nails as the sea undermined the foundations, as the walls softened and melted into the brine.

No castles here.

The sand is too dry – it sucks the moisture from my skin, grinds at my teeth and the corners of my eyes. It’s harder too, filled with the rubble of ancient cities, fragments of musty tombs returned to the light, the secret corners of a lustrous palace laid bare.

The castles melt away and city’s fall. Only the wind remains.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Old Dongola, Sudan.

Years ago I was lucky enough to visit Egypt, to the north of Sudan. Venturing into the Sahara Desert, I can vouch that the sand is pretty much as I describe here – definitely not fit for making castles.

Friday Fictioneers: An item of little value

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

Cora and Thomas posed to cut their wedding cake, blinking in the flash of cameras and good wishes.

Mother – proud in heather tweed and pill box hat – rushed forward once the cutting was done, levered off the top layer of cake, icing swags calving on the Axminster.

A box was ready, lined with crisp white tissue. ‘For the christening,’ said Mother, beaming.

Decades later, when clearing her great aunt’s house, Cora’s niece found a tier of greyed cake nestled in yellowed tissue.

It was tossed in the bin with other items of little value.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in the fun.

I couldn’t think of a story concerning plastic boxes, but the swagged curtains reminded me of white icing on a wedding cake, so that’s where I went.

Notes

Wedding Cake Tradition. Not sure if it still is, but it was once the tradition for couples to save the top tier of their wedding cake for their first child’s christening, see here.

Axminster is the name of the oldest surviving carpet manufacturers in the UK. When I was a kid, we could only dream of a real wool Axminster carpet. It was nylon all the way for us!

People’s Friend Serial Publication

Image: Niallskinner Pixabay

Snow falls over the Cornish village of Torre, blowing along the narrow alleyways, drifting against the door of the Free Traders Inn. The village lock-up shimmers with icicles, the sign above Grubb’s pawnbrokers’ sways but doesn’t creak – George Grubb gives nothing away for free.

Wind howls across nearby Merrin Moor. There are tales of a beast sniffing through the gorse so best to keep inside by the fire.

Up on the clifftop, Torre Point lighthouse winks over a churning grey sea, keeping its secrets close. The village is awash with stories of that lighthouse, of strange men coming and going, of boats out in a storm …

Of murder.

I’m delighted to announce I have another three-part serial about to be published in The People’s Friend Magazine.

A 19th century tale, expect sinister lighthouse keepers, a pipe smoking landlady, tangled secrets, blood, murder, smugglers … and a bear.

The first part is due out this Saturday, the 2nd of November, though copies are often available a few days previous to the publication date.