What Pegman Saw – Greenwood Avenue, 1921

“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 Greenwood Avenue, Tulsa, and we are encouraged to write about the Tulsa riots.

WPS - Greenwood Avenue, 1921 191130

Image from Mike Goad from Pixabay

Greenwood Avenue, 1921

“Those are pretty, Mommy.”

Hannah smiled at her little daughter, Jacqueline.

“They’re all the way from France, honey. They’ve come thousands of miles across the ocean.”

She looked complacently at the crystal goblets. They’d arrived that morning, nestled in straw, in a sturdy wooden case.

“The sunshine makes colour sparkles in them,” observed six-year-old Montague, Jacqui’s brother.

The front door banged. Footsteps pounded along the passage.

“Sam? Sam!”

A trickle of blood ran down her husband’s cheek.

“Get the bag. It’s happening. The surrey’s at the door.”

Hannah paled. She rushed upstairs and grabbed the carpet bag, packed with essentials and cash. As she climbed onto the surrey, Sam handed her the reins.

“Drive north. Don’t stop.”

“Sam! Aren’t you coming?”

“Some hotheads want to kill whitey. I’m going to talk sense into them.”

As the surrey trundled around the corner, he had one last glimpse of Monty, waving.

 

What Pegman Saw – A Question of Identity

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. 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 location is Tbilisi, Georgia.

WPS - A question of identity 190406

A Question of Identity

“Remember, tell no-one about our guests.” Fatima’s father clutched her arm.

Fatima picked up her motorcycle helmet. “You can rely on me, Papa,” she replied.

Aleksandre was waiting for her in the market. He pointed at her hijab.

“I don’t know why you wear that thing. It’s hardly for modesty, is it? You’re wearing make-up for goodness sake!”

Fatima looked at the ground.

“Maybe using make-up is a sin, but you know I only do it to please you, husband-to-be.”

“I don’t like you wearing hijab. It demeans Mother Georgia. It’s halfway to treason!”

“Aleks, dearest, I would betray my faith if I didn’t wear it.”

Aleksandre scowled, so Fatima said, “Come, I’ll treat us to coffee before I do my shopping.”

Later, as she hurried home, she thought of Aliya’s young family, refugees from Syria, and rejoiced that the global reach of the ummah had brought them safe to Tbilisi.

 

 

Friday Fictioneers – Escape

NaNoWriMo is over for this year, and I’m delighted to have succeeded in writing 50,000 words of a novel in the month. I’m now trying to continue at the same pace until the first draft is finished.

However, this week the siren voice of Friday Fictioneers has lured me into the shoals of flash fiction, especially as Rochelle has picked such an evocative photoprompt from Dawn. Thank you to both of you!

Friday Fictioneers - Escape 181206

PHOTO PROMPT © Dawn M. Miller

Escape

If Saaburah had looked back, she would have seen a smudge of smoke on the horizon where her house had once stood, but she didn’t look back.

If she had listened to her memories, she would have heard gunfire, screams, and the roar of fire as her family and friends were slaughtered, but she didn’t listen to her memories.

With her baby swaddled against her breast, she had walked towards the border, at first alone, then with a few others, then with a multitude.

Filthy, exhausted, frightened, they streamed across the railway bridge into Bangladesh, homeless, stateless.

Alive.

What Pegman Saw – The Spirit of Christmas

“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 North Pole, Alaska. My story is inspired by the prompt, and is not about North Pole!

WPS - The Spirit of Christmas 171224

WPS – The Spirit of Christmas

The smell of barbecued meat mingling with the sweet spiciness of mulled wine teased Maureen’s nostrils. Snow smothered mountains loomed above the streets of Sion, which thronged with people. Ancients, weather-beaten like the trees on the mountain, greeted teenage students. Locals in workaday clothes stood chatting in half a dozen different languages to visitors in furs.

People of many different nationalities have found a home in Sion, and there is a tradition at Christmas that each community prepares a Nativity scene. Visitors make pilgrimage through the town, following the “Chemin des Crèches”.

This year, Syrian migrants had been invited to contribute. Maureen stood reading the placard beside their offering. It reminded readers that the infant Jesus had himself been a refugee in Egypt.

Suddenly she laughed for joy, and spread her arms wide.

“Why, Christmas isn’t something from a tawdry Santa – it’s a world of brothers and sisters to love!”

Short story – The Refugee

I first posted this story on 21st January this year, under the title “Where is Europe?” I think this may have misled people into thinking it was a political post about Brexit, and it had very few readers. So, here it is, retitled but otherwise unchanged!

Short story – The Refugee

Latifah struggled up from the nightmare, sobbing, the taste of fear like blood in her mouth. As she opened her eyes she saw her mother.

“Quickly, Latifah, quickly!”

She heard revving engines, screeching tyres and gunshots. For a few seconds she lay petrified, too frightened to move. They had come!

Her mother pulled her to her feet, thrust her abaya over her head, tied her niqab in place.

“Come quickly,” she implored.

“Allah, do not let me fall into the hands of these men; let me die first,” Latifah prayed.

Men were pounding at the front door, battering it. She could hear her father shouting. There was a burst of automatic fire, and agonized shrieks. Her mother gasped, pushed her out of the back door, and they stumbled away.

Behind them were screams, and the flickering light of burning buildings; in front was darkness. Latifah’s mother fell to her knees.

“I’m wounded. You must run, Latifah, run!” She fell forwards, face in the dirt and lay still. Latifah let out a howl of despair, and then ran.

She ran until breathing hurt, until her legs wobbled, until she could no longer hear the dreadful sounds and the flames were hidden behind a hill. And then she wept for her mother and her father and her brothers, for her friends and for her home. There was no way back.

She walked on through night, and the desert, and the sunrise, until she reached a small town. The gunmen weren’t there; this was still a place of friends. Latifah had a little money, and she bought some bread and drank from a water fountain. “Which is the way to the sea?” she asked everyone.

It was a long walk. Sometimes she was lucky and found a day’s work, which would buy her a little food to last a week. Sometimes she had to beg. She slept in the open, fitfully.

And she reached the sea. Her eyes grew large and round in her gaunt face. The sea was so large! It was like a desert of water! “Where is Europe,” she asked everyone.

Some shrugged; some laughed; “It’s like heaven,” said a woman. “You only get there after you’re dead.”

One good-looking young man said, “I can fix it for you to travel there. Show me your face.”

“No, that would be sinful!” she exclaimed.

He grabbed her niqab and pulled it off roughly, tossing the rag into the bushes at the side of the road. She fought him, but he was strong and she was starving,

“Allah protect me!”

She fell and felt him press hard on top of her. He smelled sweet, rotten. The stones under her were gouging into her back, and they lacerated her as she struggled. He was laughing as he forced her legs apart. And then, suddenly, he slumped. His head fell against Latifah’s, stunning her.

It was the face of a very young man that she saw first as she recovered consciousness. She gasped and shrank back.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “See, I’ve found your niqab. You can put it on and be modest again.” She looked at him as a cat approaches a stranger, warily, ready to flee.

“It’s alright. Here it is.”

He held it up. Latifah snatched it, tied it in place.

“Are you alright to walk? We’d better go. I think I killed him when I hit him with the rock. He…he hasn’t moved.”

Latifah dragged herself upright, and sobbed. She hurt all over, and her limbs shook. She looked at the young man. Why, he was a boy really, hardly older than she was!

“Thank you,” she said. “Do you know where Europe is?”

“It’s over there somewhere.” He gestured towards the sea. “Is that where you want to go?”

Latifah nodded.

“My family is going tonight. Do you want to come with us?”

“Could I?” she said, hardly daring to believe it.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I shall have to ask.”

That night, Latifah and Asif, with the strong arms of Asif’s mother around them, crossed the sea and reached safety.

 

Where is Europe?

Latifah struggled up from the nightmare, sobbing, the taste of fear like blood in her mouth. As she opened her eyes she saw her mother. “Quickly, Latifah, quickly!”
She heard revving engines, screeching tyres and gunshots. For a few seconds she lay petrified, too frightened to move. They had come!
Her mother pulled her to her feet, thrust her abaya over her head, tied her niqab in place.
“Come quickly,” she moaned.
“Allah, do not let me fall into the hands of these men; let me die first,” Latifah prayed.
Men were pounding at the front door, battering it. She could hear her father shouting. There was a burst of automatic fire, and agonized shrieks. Her mother gasped, pushed her out of the back door, and they ran.
Behind them were screams and the flickering light of burning buildings; in front was darkness. Latifah’s mother fell to her knees. “I’m wounded. You must run, Latifah, run!” She fell forwards, face in the dirt and lay still. Latifah let out a howl of despair, and then ran.
She ran until breathing hurt, until her legs wobbled, until she could no longer hear the dreadful sounds and the flames were hidden behind a hill. And then she wept for her mother and her father and her brothers, for her friends and for her home. There was no way back.
She walked on through night and the desert and the sunrise until she reached a small town. The gunmen weren’t there; this was still a place of friends. Latifah had a little money, and she bought some bread and drank from a water fountain. “Which is the way to the sea?” she asked everyone.
It was a long walk. Sometimes she was lucky and found a day’s work, which would buy her a little food that would last a week. Sometimes she had to beg. She slept in the open, fitfully.
And she reached the sea. Her eyes grew large and round in her gaunt face. The sea was so large! It was like a desert of water! “Where is Europe?” she asked everyone.
Some shrugged; some laughed; “It’s like heaven,” said a woman. “You only get there after you’re dead.”
One good-looking young man said, “I can fix it for you to travel there. Show me your face.”
“No, that would be sinful!” she exclaimed.
He grabbed her niqab and pulled it off roughly, tossing the rag into the bushes at the side of the road. She fought him, but he was strong and she was starving,
“Allah protect me!”
She fell and felt him press hard on top of her. He smelled sweet, rotten. The stones under her were gouging into her back, and they lacerated her as she struggled. He was laughing as he forced her legs apart. And then, suddenly, he slumped. His head fell against Latifah’s, stunning her.
It was the face of a young man that she saw first as she recovered consciousness. She gasped and shrank back.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “See, I’ve found your niqab. You can put it on and be modest again.” She looked at him as a cat approaches a stranger, warily, ready to flee.
“It’s alright. Here it is.”
He held it up. Latifah snatched it, tied it in place.
“Are you alright to walk? We’d better go. I think I killed him when I hit him with the rock. He…he hasn’t moved.”
Latifah dragged herself upright, and sobbed. She hurt all over, and her limbs shook with fatigue. She looked at the young man. Why, he was a boy really, hardly older than she was!
“Thank you,” she said. “Do you know where Europe is?”
“It’s over there somewhere.” He gestured towards the sea. “Is that where you want to go?”
Latifah nodded.
“My family is going tonight. Do you want to come with us?”
“Could I?” she said, hardly daring to believe it.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I shall have to ask.”
That night, Latifah and Asif, in life jackets, and with the strong arms of Asif’s mother around them, crossed the sea and reached safety.

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