What Pegman Saw: Ox blood red

The bar’s corrugated iron walls were ox blood red, the roof patched with the hood of an old army truck and an oil drum beaten flat. It smelt of the Mekong – weed and runoff from the sugar factory a mile upstream.

Sunny nodded. “I’ll take it.”

The For Sale sign came down, tables and chairs brought in. Some nights a local band would play on the river bank – the bar was too small, too weak to hold them – the reedy voice of the khene reaching across the water to Thailand.

He imagined the music – the thread of his longing carried on the wind – drifting over her as she lay in bed, curled and dozing. Would she smile as she slept? Dream of her old love?

The bar would empty, the band clear a table to play cards. Sunny would sit alone on the river bank, his thoughts following the music and the wind.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week we visit Laos.

Notes

The Mekong River acts as a natural border between Laos and Thailand.

A stretch of the Mekong River was turned black earlier this year by the runoff from a sugar factory.

The Khene is a wind instrument local to Laos and Cambodia made from bamboo and used in traditional – often bawdy or satirical – folk music.

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What Pegman Saw: There are no windows here

Image: Google Streetview

There are no windows here, no interruption in the walls other than the pock marks in the plaster, the parts where the surface is powdery, or damp, or scabbed with old paint. No interruption other than the cell door.

There is a gap under the door a fingers’ width deep. If I lie on my side, nose pressed to the gap I can see the corridor – floor tiles (black, beige, rust red diamonds) specks of rat shit, balls of hair, once a scrap of torn boot lace.

But beyond them is the gate. Cast iron acanthus leaves, palm fronds, stamens grown too big for their flowers.

And it reminds me.

Of walks in Song Festival Park. Of how the trees cut the sunlight into shadows, how that light took fire in your hair but turned your eyes to ice.

It reminds me I was once someone more, something more than this.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. This week we are in Riga, Latvia.

I found this image in the old KGB building where tours are run by the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. The country was occupied – brutally – by the Soviet Union in 1940-41, then by the Nazis, then by the Soviet Union again from 1944 to 1991. The museum’s slogan is Remember, Commemorate, Remind.

Friday Fictioneers: Gatecrasher

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

Storm Philippa had touched down at around 2 am, buckling the thin poles of the discount store gazebo, tearing canvas, flooding the gas barbecue Trevor had hired especially. Their 25th anniversary party in ruins.

Sheila couldn’t help a bitter smile.

The mess of shoddy steel and nylon was the perfect metaphor for her marriage – something unforeseen had intruded from beyond Sheila’s comfortable domestic bubble and destroyed that too.

Only her name wasn’t Philippa.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Peruse the pic and write an appropriate tale. See here to join the fun.

What Pegman Saw: Blue Hole

Image: Google Street View

I told Bernie to meet me at Blue Hole today after church.

Big soft lug didn’t ask why, just winked, nodded, carried on loading the barrels on the truck like Pa told him.

He’ll come alone – Bernie’s always alone when he’s not trailing after me.

I gaze out over the near-still water and the lake shows me how it got its name. It’s a mirror for the sky and the perfection of it makes a bubble of hurt swell and burst in my chest. It’s the bluest blue, like Callie’s eyes the day she told me no, the day she slipped below the glassy surface, leaving only her canvas shoes and a trail of bubbles behind.

If only Bernie hadn’t followed me down here that day, if only he hadn’t seen me bury those shoes.

A sound from behind makes me turn.

‘Hi Bernie,’ I say.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Middle Torch Key in Florida and don’t ask me why such a stunningly beautiful spot made my mind turn this dark way – it’s just how I am.

I’ve been away from the blog a few weeks and how lovely it is to be back. I’ve been finishing up a submission package for my WIP. The cover letter has been crafted, synopsis pared down (again and again!), the opening pages tweaked to an inch of their lives and I’ve subbed to four agents. Expecting four rejections, but you never know, at least one of them may have something helpful to say.

Wish me luck.

The blade that cut the cord

They came to the door at sunup, November rain dripping from hat brims and shoulders. So many of them – neighbours, friends – eager breath rising like fog.

Father stood in their way, but one punch and he hit the flagstones, the wind and fight knocked from him.

The leader sent two aloft, the ladder creaking under them. Hay dust sifted between the boards, speckling father’s blood stained lip. He could only stare and wait.

A scuff of boots, a thump.

Then my brother Gabe, screaming, weeping for our dead mother, for Father, for me. An animal howl tore from his lips. I blocked my ears, praying God I could unhear that sound.

In moments they were gone – with Gabe, with the rusty blade he’d used two nights before.

Dust stung my eyes, ground between my lips and teeth.

Our father wept.

***

From a story prompt suggested by Patsy Collins over at Womagwriter Blog.

For any of you interested in writing for women’s magazines, Patsy’s blog really is THE place to go for magazine guidelines, submission tips and links. Absolutely invaluable.

What Pegman Saw: A flare in the lens

Image: Google Street View

In the beginning they were just an irritation, like lens flare or a scratched negative.

But he began to see them everywhere in his footage, among the Beng trees of Cambodia, in the dust and scrub of the Golan Heights, studying the murals on the Falls Road.

His hands would shake in the sick red glow of the darkroom as he reached for his magnifier, searching the prints before they dried.

Always the same blond and dark heads, close as if in conversation, the arms round each other, feet in step. Sometimes they were blurred, distant, part hidden behind a lamp post or car, but always the swept back hair, the holiday smiles.

His editor laughed, said they were his signature, better than a monogram. He smiled, nodded, all the while wondering how he’d learn who they were.

Then one dank night driving home on the coast road, he found out.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its jumping off point. This week we are in Cardenas, Cuba.

My story is actually inspired by the Google Street View itself. You see, I kept seeing the same woman and child, in similar poses, arms round each other, presumably tagging along behind the camera operator. I just wondered what if they weren’t known by the photographer? What if their appearance was as much of a surprise to the person who took the images as it was to us?

To learn more about Cambodia, the Golan Heights and the Falls Road, just click

WITH THIS RING

Rochelle is the leader of the weekly prompt, Friday Fictioneers and a grand job she makes of that too. But FF is restricted to 100 words and though that’s a great discipline, it’s so nice to read some of her fiction that has a little more time to stretch and breath. I had to share this for the wonderful period feel and the chatacerisation. So beautifully done.

Rochelle Wisoff-Fields-Addicted to Purple

The following story is a change of pace from my usual flash fiction. I wrote it for the photo prompt below. It’s part of the Writers Unite! Monthly Write the Story. To find out how to participate CLICK HERE. 

Genre: Historical Fiction

WITH THIS RING

       Laura Gwynn cradled her month-old son in her arms. Lulled by the steady rhythm of the train taking her from familiar Pennsylvania to unknown Missouri, she shut her eyes. How had it come to this?

       She longed to confide in Mama or cry on Papa’s shoulder. This was never to be. Mama died of consumption and Papa couldn’t live with his broken heart. Laura had no siblings. Left alone at fifteen with nothing but a rundown farmhouse and a barren field, she sold the property and moved to the city. When she went to deposit the money from the…

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