What Pegman Saw – A big ask

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Hanoi, Vietnam.

WPS - A big ask 180908

Hanoi, Vietnam | © Wonov.com, Google Maps

A big ask

Nguyen Anh Dung was nervous. The table was covered with small dishes of food, spicy prawns, savoury meat, crisp vegetables, tangy fruits. He hoped the American would enjoy it. Perhaps at last his daughter would marry.

The American, Matt, was working in Hanoi despite his memories of imprisonment and torture twenty-five years earlier. He found himself liking the Vietnamese – one of them in particular. Thirty years old, not beautiful but with a quirk to her lips when she smiled that he found irresistible, Nguyen Co^ng won Matt’s heart.

Soon, she took him to her father’s apartment.

The eyes of the two men met; they froze. Then Anh Dung bowed deeply.

“I once did you great wrong,” he said. “Nothing I do now can atone for that. Can you forgive the father’s evil for the sake of his daughter?”

Slowly, Matt unclenched his teeth.

“I guess I can try,” he said.

16 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – A big ask

    • Dear Alicia
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I want more, too, but all I had was 150 words… I think that to do this situation justice in 150 words is beyond my ability at the moment. I’m tempted to try a slightly longer version, perhaps 300 words. If I do, I’ll blog it and see what people think!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  1. This is excellent, Penny. The inventory of the set table nicely sets the scene (and makes me hungry). You set up the stakes for Anh Dung, then raise the tension by introducing Matt and revealing both his stakes and his passion. This sets us up for a crackling showdown. But it seems Nguyen Co^ng has proven love more powerful than the acrimony or injustices of the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Karen,
      Thank you for reading and for your kind and thoughtful comments. While I was pleased with the concept of this story, I was less pleased with how I realised it. There’s too much ‘tell’ and not enough ‘show’; but I really struggled to stay within the word count, and all my attempts at telling the story less directly ran over 150 words. I wasn’t quite skilful enough!
      I think I’m going to have another go, still flash fiction but significantly more than 150 words; it will give me more space in which to show the nuances of the situation.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, that takes the cake for in-law trouble!

    Makes me think of John McCain, whose funeral recently brought statesmen and citizens out of the woodwork, everyone praising civility. This character’s behavior is indeed the ultimate in civility–forgiving those who have wronged us grievously. I hope he can manage it, for the sake of their love!

    And I think the story works well, though, as I’m sure you intended, we may have a hard time believing the soldier, when he says the last line. The only glitch I sort of stumbled on was transitional–the transition from their courtship to the present moment. The word “soon” seems to imply that this moment–taking him to the apartment–also was sometime in the past. Perhaps something like “today” might work better. Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Andi
      Thank you for reading and for your detailed and thoughtful comments. As you say, this is about as bad as it gets when meeting an in-law for the first time.
      And, yes, the American will have great difficulty in forgiving his torturer, even for the sake of his daughter – although I’m sure he’s sincere when he says the words.
      There are so many nuances I can’t convey in 150 words…so I’ve written a longer version that you can read here if you’re interested. https://pennygadd51.wordpress.com/2018/09/10/a-big-ask-long-version/
      The longer version makes the timeline clearer too!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Abhijit
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re right that Anh Dung is upset that his daughter is bringing home an American – but she’s thirty and had looked likely to remain a spinster. He wants her to be happily married and will make an effort to be polite. But
      Anh Dung was a torturer at a prison camp during the Vietnam war, and Matt was a young GI who was captured and held there. As soon as they saw each other, they recognised who it was…
      There are so many nuances I can’t convey in 150 words…so I’ve written a longer version that you can read here if you’re interested. https://pennygadd51.wordpress.com/2018/09/10/a-big-ask-long-version/
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

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