What Pegman Saw – Finding Out

“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 Baltimore, Maryland.

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Peabody Institute of John’s Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland  © S. Kalugin Google Maps

Finding out

“Honey, what are you doing?” asked Laura.

Jeff turned from the mirror, his face scarlet.

“Mom! I didn’t hear you come in!”

“Come here, hun.”

Jeff hesitated. Laura’s dress hung loose on him, and he tottered on her high heels.

Laura sat down and patted the place beside her. “Sit beside me, sweetie.”

She hugged him.

“Honey, I love you,” she said.

Then she asked “You’ve borrowed my clothes before, haven’t you?”

Jeff nodded.

“Is it like that TV programme we saw?”

Jeff nodded again.

“Mom,” he blurted, “I feel like I’m a girl, not a boy.”

“Do you have a special name, sweetheart?”

Jeff looked at his toes. “Myleene”

“My, that’s a pretty name.” She drew breath. “You want I should take you to Johns Hopkins, like the girl on the TV?”

“What about dad?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll talk him round.”

She hugged her son again, her heart breaking.

Author’s Notes

Johns Hopkins Hospital pioneered gender reassignment surgery in the USA. However, in 1979 they stopped carrying out such surgery, taking the view that gender dysphoria was a mental illness and should be treated as such. They maintained this policy for 38 years, only changing it in 2017. They now offer a range of medical treatments for gender dysphoria, including surgery.

 

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What Pegman Saw – Family Matters

“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 the Faroe Islands. When Hitler overran Denmark, Britain occupied the Faroe Islands to deny him a strategic base in the North Atlantic.

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Nordragota, Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark | Google Maps

Family Matters

November was a rotten month for starting my new job as civilian secretary of the British Consul to the Faroe Islands. There were six hours of gloomy daylight, shortening every day. Even without air-raids the drabness made the war feel real.

But the family I lived with were lovely. Johanna, the matriarch, let me help about the house; and twice a week she let me join in the chain dance, holding her youngest son Olavur’s hand and chanting words I didn’t understand.

“You are my daughter,” said Johanna. “Four boys I bore, but no girls. Now I have you, Catherine.”

Winter ebbed, and the men went to sea. Then, on March 28th 1942, the trawler SELRES_c719b40c-1c76-420d-9708-56d850683a78SELRES_63ac3c94-ea10-460b-b575-f9f3ef4fb83bSELRES_8ee89319-eac9-4ce0-9f0a-60a2d7dc82c8Nyggjaberg SELRES_8ee89319-eac9-4ce0-9f0a-60a2d7dc82c8SELRES_63ac3c94-ea10-460b-b575-f9f3ef4fb83bSELRES_c719b40c-1c76-420d-9708-56d850683a78was sunk by the Germans and Johanna lost three of her sons.

She didn’t smile for two years – not until she first cuddled my newly born son, while Olavur, proud dad, looked on joyfully.

What Pegman Saw – Swallows and Amazons

“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 Coniston Water, which is in the Lake District of England.

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Coniston Water, Lake District, England © Google Maps

Swallows and Amazons

Only six years ago!

It was a day just like today when the four of them set off up the hill. The weather forecast was set fair. The early morning sun sharply delineated every rock, every leaf, woke pastel shades of sage and lilac from the rocky crest.

How clearly I can see them! John at the front carrying map and compass and wearing his ‘responsible’ face; Susan with a rucksack containing their provisions – ‘pemmican’ sandwiches and lemonade, I think; Titty, looking to Susan for her example; and little Roger with his make-believe cutlass.

And now we’re at war.

Susan has just become a VAD.

Titty is still at school, but spends her spare time sending comforts to the troops.

Roger, thank God, is too young to fight; I pray this war will be over soon.

I look down. The telegram from the Royal Navy is blurred by my tears.

What Pegman Saw – The dance of life

“What Pegman saw” is a great weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Do join in!

Just use the location provided, and 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 Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey. Click on the blue frog to read other people’s stories!

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The dance of life

I stand in the square and watch.

Holding hands, bodies proudly erect, young men dance to the harsh, reedy yearning of the qernête and the repetitive, rhythmic throb of the daf. They are Kurds and proud of it. They fly their flags and get into trouble with the police. Some of them may go further; I wouldn’t know – but the smell of trouble clings to them like gun-smoke.

What good will a separate Kurdistan do us? This fertile land, this gateway from east to west, has been overrun by Assyrians, by Romans, by Arabs; even our own countrymen have made war against us. So many overlords. So much bloodshed.

I look over to the mountains, to snowy Ararat towering above. Once, many, many generations ago, my forebears and their flocks danced down that mountain following the slowly receding waters.

Our peaceful dance will live on forever, while nations pass away.

What Pegman Saw – Be strong for me

“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 includes Amarillo, Texas. I struggled with this one, and the link between prompt and story is opaque. Amarillo is the location of the USA’s Strategic Helium Reserve. The major contemporary use for helium is in MRI scanners, which uses 20% of global production.

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Juniper Trail – Manic Exploration.com  © Chris Katie Google Maps

Be strong for me

“You’re a cancer survivor,” insisted James fiercely. Stella gave him a fleeting smile and squeezed his hand.

“Jim, whatever they find with this scan, just accept it will you? Please? For my sake.”

Once more she was wheeled into the little room, once more laid down in the restricted space of the MRI scanner. ‘What a good job I’m not claustrophobic,’ she thought.

The scan started and she winced. The machine made a noise like an unsilenced motorcycle engine, and it sawed through her attempts to think coherently.

Stella knew Jim would come to hear the results, but she wished he wouldn’t. He wasn’t prepared for bad news.

And it was bad; the worst.

“But surely there’s some experimental treatment? Stella’s a survivor!” Jim was outraged.

The consultant just shook his head.

“Jim, let it be,” said Stella, gently.

Jim looked at her, about to expostulate. He looked – then wept.

What Pegman Saw – A letter from India

“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 the Kangra Valley, India.

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A letter from India

Kangra

18th May 1847

My beloved Margaret,

I write to say you needn’t worry – the serious fighting is over and we have peace. We must now bring prosperity to the people. Major Barclay believes tea could be cultivated here, and he is something of an expert.

How I long for you! I imagine you walking in the green pasture by the clear river, your hair ruffled by herb-scented breezes from the great snow-capped mountains.

I pray you are safe after the birth of our first child. In my mind’s eye I see you holding the dear creature close your heart. How strange it feels not to know whether my child is a son or daughter!

Dearest, it seems so long before you can join me here and make me whole. Until then, I shall serve with honour so you and our child may be proud.

May God bless you,

Leonard

What Pegman Saw – Dirty Business

“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 Armenia.

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Tsaghkunyats Ridge, Armenia  © Roland Yeghiazaryan, Google Maps

Dirty Business

“There’s been another leak from the copper mine into the River Artsvanik.”

Grigor, local leader of the Armenian Environmental Front, rested his hand gently on his friend Ari’s shoulder and looked at the laptop. The video from the drone-mounted camera was shaky, but clearly showed filthy water from the waste tailings pond pouring into the river.

The two men looked at each other. Downstream, the river provided water for agriculture and the waste gushing into it was full of toxic metals.

“No point telling the authorities,” said Grigor. Ari nodded. Money had changed hands.

“Should we tell the farmers?” suggested Ari.

Grigor shook his head.

“They’d lose business.”

He rubbed his side where he’d had two ribs broken. The police had shown no interest in finding his attackers.

“Send the video to Friends of the Earth?”

Ari shrugged.

“We could try. They’re international – and the mine is owned by Germans.”