What Pegman Saw : Parallel Worlds



It’s only after thirty years away, I see how idyllic my childhood home is and I have the strangest feeling of seeing two parallel worlds, as if each eye is imprinted with a different image, my brain struggling to reconcile the two.

There is the picture window gazing onto the endless ocean, a porch swing wide enough for two, a spotless white picket fence.

Blink and I see the other world …

… six years old, paint brush falling from my hand as a boot kicks me from behind. The graze on my temple from the fence  …

… shivering on the porch swing as the dark creeps in, as wild things snuffle closer, as the shouting from inside turns to screams …

… banging at the picture window as my mother walks away, never turning, never looking back …

Tugging my collar against the wind, I’m glad of its beauty.

It means it will sell quickly.

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt inspired by Google Street View. This week we are on Mackinac Island, Michigan. See here to join in and to read the other stories.






What Pegman Saw : Where I began

Today Pegman walks through  Portal, ND


Mum told me the place was called Railway Avenue.

When I was a kid lying on my bunk, pillow wrapped round my head to block the shouting, I imagined what it was like. A countryside lane, maybe, with a redbrick station and a flower bed, the town name picked out in yellow begonias. Maybe the line had long closed, leaving the grass to grow tall between the sleepers, with only the field mice left to follow the old ways.

When she finally kicked me out, I packed a bag and hiked there just to see, just to know the place where I began. I found a truck stop, a rundown cafe surrounded by wide open tracts of churned up dirt grubby with engine oil.

It made me smile. I was sixteen and it seemed right that my life began somewhere where even hope couldn’t survive.


Written for What Pegman Saw, a great writing prompt inspired by Google Streetview. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

What pegman saw : Out on a dogleg road


That old place was isolated even when Mr and Mrs Murphy lived there – on the edge of town on a dogleg road that led to nothing but a dried up stream bed filled with dumped refrigerators and tyres.

The couple kept themselves apart. They didn’t use the local store. They didn’t go to church on Sunday. Never even borrowed a cup of sugar. In fact afterwards, no one could remember more than twenty words that passed between the Murphys and their neighbours.

There were rumours, but that’s one thing that breeds well in small towns. When people are starved of the truth, they like to invent their own.

But there was no denying what was found when the men came to unblock the sewer. No denying the smell, the bodybags lined up in the makeshift mortuary.

No denying how well the place burned after the news got out …


Written for What pegman saw, a prompt using Google Streetview. This week we have a picture of St Louis. See here to join in and to read the other stories.