What Pegman Saw : Second smile

Image : Google Street View

Dari and Purl’s first kiss was under those trees, the New Year’s Eve Purl was sixteen. Their last was two or more years later under the same trees, sun blazing down, pricking the sweat from Purl’s skin like she’d been caught in a storm. She was crying that time.

This was where Sunny learned to ride pillion and where he got that scar like a second smile on his chin. Fell off the back of the Honda. Told Dari not to try wheelies.

It’s where we smoked – away from our parents, too far into the maze of tenements for the police to find us, to quiet for the gangs to bother.

It’s where they found Purl the New Year’s Day she would have been nineteen. Lying on her back, staring up through those self same trees, her throat cut like a second smile. And she had a lovely smile.

I wonder where Dari is now.

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Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View. This week, we visit Mumbai. See here to join in.

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What Pegman Saw: On top of Broun Mam

Image: Google Maps

Nat kept his promise.

Every week he’d slip and scurry to the top of Broun Mam and leave something for Peggy in the disused nesting box.

Sometimes it might only be an unripe beech bud or a sprig of Hawthorne blossom. When he could steal the time alone it would be a note, scribbled in pencil on a page he’d torn from last year’s almanac. I still listen for the waves or When I eat apples I save the pips for you. Things only significant to her, to them.

What she left in return made his hands shake for her. A peach stone sucked clean of flesh; a triangle of lace snipped from her clothing, from somewhere covered, close to her skin. The thought of these items passing through her hands, over her tongue made him shiver …

Until they stopped appearing and he saw them for what they were – things she had discarded.

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Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as it starting point. This week we are in St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cuna. See here to join in.

Notes.

Broun is the Middle English word for brown.

Mam is an English dialect word for Mother.

The name of my mountain was inspired by Mam Tor (Mother Hill) which is near Castleton, Derbyshire near where I grew up.

What Pegman Saw : Midday on the highway

By midday we’d reached the highway.

The rain that had soaked us through in the night had stopped by then, but still the road was slick with runoff, every passing truck throwing up a mist browned with mud and grease until our clothes were heavy once again.

After an hour of waiting for someone to pull over, the children were restless, tired of an ‘adventure’ that never ceased, of rest that never came.

‘There are too many of us,’ muttered Rudo, kicking at an empty soda can. ‘No one will stop for eight.’ His voice lowered further as he cast me a dark look, but the words arrived sharp and bright as lightning in my ear. ‘No one will take that child.’

Danai wriggled in her sling, sticky warm on my back, milky breath against my ear.

My child would never be part of this world.

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Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week, we visit Harare, Zimbabwe. See here to join in and to read and comment.

Ghost Smiles

Versaille maze
Image : Google Street View

‘… here we go round the mulberry bush on a cold and frosty morning …’

Francis watched his cousins: Ivy’s primrose hair tumbled from its ribbon; Johnny’s  socks were wrinkled, scuffed white from the gravel path. As the oldest, Francis would be in trouble for the grass stains, for the smudges of dirt on rosy cheeks.

‘It’s a box hedge,’ he muttered. ‘And it’s June. No frost in June.’ They didn’t hear, just kept on laughing and skipping.

He could write his name in perfect copperplate scrolls by the time he was four; had known his times tables by six. At each fresh achievement his parents had shown ghost smiles, eyes soon drawn back to the morning paper. No ghost smiles for the twins. Everyone adored them.

Almost everyone.

‘Let’s go into the maze,’ called Francis.

His pocket felt heavy and he smiled.

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This story was originally written for What Pegman Saw. Visit here to see what you’re missing.

What Pegman Saw : And all the while he went about his work

Image : Google Street View

He’d watched them secretly from the lookout, their faces dancing like orange flames in the firelight.

Each feather-light touch of fingers, the smiles that grew bolder as the empty beer bottles increased.

Only a matter of time before each touch became more urgent, before he heard the rasp of zips, the dull billow of clothes falling .

So careless. So arrogant.

He waited until morning, until the fire was only white ash and smoke, till they fell into an exhausted sleep, a tangle of pale flesh and dark, blond and black hair.

Only then did he remove his boots, creep down the wooden steps, careful of each footfall.

And all the while he went about his work, they slept.

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Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt based on Google Street View. This week we visit Montana. Visit here to join in and to read other contributions.

Sadly, this is my last ‘live’ post before Christmas as I’m working from now right up to the last minute. Apologies for my absence of late, I’ve been trying to ready some work for a submission. Apologies too if I’m late replying to comments – I will reply eventually, I promise!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years.

What Pegman Saw : The Last Freeway

Mads was getting tired now, her boots tearing up the fallen leaves and twigs like miniature bulldozers.

At first Col had scolded her, worried they were leaving tracks the Militia might follow.  But as the sun bottomed on the horizon the forest grew quiet and still, every branch snap making him jump, smothering his whispers. 

He tried to focus on the plan. 

Everyone in HomeState knew the stories. If you cross the Last Freeway and scale the Wall, the Grey City authorities put you in a holding camp until you’re shipped back across the border. 

But in the camps they fed you, give you clean clothes … medicine.

Mads coughed, skinny limbs shivering. The rattle was worse. He’d seen the red in her spit, the stuff she’d tried to stamp into the forest floor so he didn’t worry.

One more day, he thought. Just one more.

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Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as it’s starting point. This week, we visit Frankfurt, Germany. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw : Always so cold …

Image : Google Street View 

‘They can’t be grave markers.’ Dr Stephanie Grayling crouched by the nearest stone.

‘Nonsense,’ said Professor Hill. ‘How many burial sites have you excavated in Ethiopia with the same style of carving, the same themes of weaponry and plant life?’ 

Grayling ran a finger over the grainy stone, felt the grooves mesh with the whorls in her skin. Always so cold, even on the hottest days … 

Hill must have heard the rumours circulating the dig team, but she’d worked with him often enough to know he never listened to chatter, only ever focusing on the facts as they presented themselves.

She stood beside him. ‘There are just too many, Craig.’ Thousands of markers sticking from the scrubby grass, accusing fingers of stone in every direction. She tried to fight off the panic, the feeling some had subtly shifted position since the day before.

‘We should never have come here.’

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Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as a jumping off point. This week we visit a fascinating archaeological site in Ethiopia. See here to join in, share, read and comment.