What Pegman Saw: Johannes fuit hic*

Image: Google Street View

Johannes set the time and place for our meeting.

Fourth bench from the oldest stone crossing, when the 101 cast their bills to the west.

Typical Johannes.

My guidebook said the oldest stone crossing was the Meeburg. As for the 101 I hadn’t a clue … Then a flotilla of white darts scudded along the canal, their wake pointing to an egg yolk sky. I smiled – the 101 swans of Bruges, returning to their nests at sunset.

I walked Meestraat, remembering Mother’s words when I told her Johannes was an author and an oil painter.

‘Writers are liars and thieves. Artists are cowards.’

Not for the first time I wondered at her life before marrying my accountant father.

The bench was black with rain, golden with fallen leaves. Taped to the seat was a large cardboard sign.

New York calls me home. Enjoy the canals. J

I hate it when Mother’s right.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we are in Bruges, Belgium.

Notes.

*Being an art history graduate, the first thing that came to mind when I saw Pegman was in Bruges was the Flemish artist, Jan van Eyck (1390-1441) – also known as Johannes. Van Eyck is famous for many wonderful oil paintings, not least The Arnolfini Portrait. He has signed the portrait just above a representation of a mirror. It reads “Johannes de Eyck fuit hic 1434” – “Johannes van Eyck was here 1434”.

Visit here to learn the full story of the 101 swans of Bruges.

As far as I can make out, the Meebrug is the oldest stone bridge in Bruges. Other crossing places may be older, but the Meebrug is the oldest structure.

Friday Fictioneers: The Paper Trail Jar


PHOTO PROMPT © Priya Bajpal

Meg invented the Paper Trail jar when we first moved in together.

I’d come home from work to find a confetti of candy coloured paper folds leading me to it. I’d stoop, snatch up each slip in turn –

Welcome home, love … You’re my star … You warm me … Never leave.

This morning when I woke, mouth sour and gummy from last night, her side of the bed was cold, empty aside from the jar. I tipped the contents on the sheet.

Your sadness stifles me … You don’t see me anymore … You’ve murdered my love for you … I’m leaving.

***************************

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

What Pegman Saw : A wise form of madness*


 

They grew up in neighbouring blocks, in the stone-built houses left when the rich folk deserted the Old Town for the New, exchanged crumbling laurel swags and ballustrades for reinforced concrete and steel.

They went to the same school, though never met. She was bright enough, not brilliant but hardworking, while he spent the school day picking pockets, shoplifting, in juvenile court.

As she whispered with her friends over boy band singers, he was getting his first gang tattoo – a dagger on his right cheekbone, a symbol of belonging.

Then one day, she was walking along Rose Street, he coming the other way, trousers hanging low, body hunched as if the world had climbed on his narrow shoulders. His face was slim, brows in a tight frown. The kind of boy the nervous cross the street to avoid.

On impulse, she smiled

And his world opened.


 

Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. See here to join the fun and to read the other stories.

The title comes from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Act One, Scene One.

An empty picture hook

Empty pictrue frame, brick wall

Image : Pixabay

‘Goodbye’ was the word that jumped out from the scrawl.

Some of the phrases were lost forever, rinsed away by the rain or crushed into muddy pulp by my footprint.

I cursed myself for being so careless. But if it hadn’t slid beneath my boot, I wouldn’t have seen the words or cradled it in my hands as brown water dripped between my fingers. I wouldn’t have carefully dried the fragile paper by the fire.

The letter held together, but what remained was fragmentary, shards of emotion nailed to the page.

It rested in my hands, light as a leaf, yet heavy. I looked around the room. My books leaned drunkenly on the shelf where yours were missing. A dusty rectangle was all that remained of the television set. I remembered the conversation: you’d paid for it, you said, and I was too tired to argue.

I put the letter in a cheap frame, hung it on a vacant picture hook.

It continues to rain.

 

 

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers : A disappointing ten years

This week’s photo prompt is provided by shivamt25. Thank you shivamt25 for our prompt!


 

I see him as I stand at the cafe counter, waiting for my name to be called.

Designer sunglasses, designer jeans ripped at the knees, the thread turned to tassels. An empty cup on the table, brown with dried froth. He’s thumbing his phone screen, scrolling, scrolling.

The barrista hands me my coffee but I don’t move. She gives me a curious look but moves onto the next customer. I let the buzz of customers buffet me until I sway.

Ten years.

The floppy fringe is the same, a dapple of grey now in the brown. There’s a looseness about his jawline that I don’t recognise, but he’s disappointingly trim, a natural bronze to his skin that suits him.

I’m surprised. Not just that I’m seeing him again when I thought I never would, but that he looks so well, so at ease. I imagined the guilt would follow him all his life, be etched on his flesh, written in those hidden hazel eyes.

I wonder if he even remembers.

 


Written for  FFfAW. See the pic and write a tale – see here to join in.

What do you imagine the guilty man has done? Do leave me some ideas in the comment section.

Three Line Tales : The Spark

three line tales week 85: sparkler and sunglasses

photo by Matt Palmer via Unsplash


 

The front room stank of beer, the armpit smell of stale kebab meat. Gingerly, Sandy stepped over discarded food wrappers, knocking over a bottle that gurgled lager onto the rug.

‘God’s sake!’

A muffled cry from the crumpled duvet on the sofa told her Dave hadn’t made it to bed last night.

‘You’re a pig!’ Why did she still flat share with this loser?

‘Didn’t find it,’ he mumbled.

‘Find what?’

‘The spark.’

Dave always claimed his night’s picking up girls in clubs wasn’t selfish gratification, but a quest for the ‘spark’, an indefinable moment of connection that would tell him when he’d found his soul mate.

Sandy pulled back the duvet, revealing a mass of tangled brown hair, lids firmly shut over what she knew to be dazzling blue eyes.

‘You can’t even see in front of your face, you idiot.’ She let the duvet drop.

 


Written for Sonya’s Three Line Tales. See the pic and write. Visit here to read the other stories.

Friday Fictioneers : A fairy tale ending

PHOTO PROMPT© Jan Wayne Fields


 

Some anniversaries through their thirty year marriage he’d left a hastily scribbled card on the mantlepiece – though more often there was nothing but the carriage clock and an unpaid gas bill. Life had delivered her Prince Charming only for him to turn into a frog the moment she had a ring on her finger.

This year, fairy lights, candles, a bottle of the sparkling wine she’d liked from their trip to Italy years before.

He gave her a shy peck on the cheek. ‘Thought you deserved something special.’

Her heart – dormant for so long – began to beat.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt pic and write a dazzling tale. See here to join in and to read the other stories.