Feel free to stroll around the area using the Google street view and grab any picture you choose to include in your post.
To enjoy stories inspired by the What Pegman Saw prompt or to submit your own 150-word story, visit the inLinkz button:
For guidelines and rules for the What Pegman Saw weekly writing prompt, visit the home page.
Thanks to K Rawson and J Hardy Carroll for heading up this challenge, one that I can’t seem to avoid. 😉 I’m not even caught up on my Friday Fictioneers reading, commenting and replying.
The Gold Souk in Dubai
Word Count: 150
“Cash for your old gold,” boasted a reputable local jeweler.
He set up a table at the front of the grocery store where I worked as a cake designer. There he made his offer to employees and customers alike.
“Wish I had something to trade in, I could use the money,” said Maggie, my coworker. “You got anything?”
My husband is something of a jewelry junkie and bought some stunning gold pieces while stationed in Dubai during the Gulf War. Nothing I care to part with. My favorite is a simple heart ring, the symbol of storms we’ve weathered in our marriage.
“Nah, but I wonder what this is actually worth.”
Maggie took it and left the bakery. When she returned she tossed it on the counter. “It’s fake.”
Isn’t it sad that a “trained professional” didn’t recognize 24 carat gold?
Like my daddy used to say, “It’s always something.”
It’s rarely left my right index finger since December 1999. 24 carat gold is soft and easily bent. BUT it’s never turned my finger green.
For the past five years, since joining Friday Fictioneers, I’ve written or posted a flash fiction at least once a week. My favorite genre is historical fiction, but that hasn’t stopped me from writing humorous anecdotes, realistic fiction or just plain nonsense. But any and all who know me very well will tell you that Jewish themes are my favorites. Nu? Why shouldn’t they be? I am after all, a Jew. All four of my grandparents came from Eastern Europe to escape the pogroms in the Pale of Settlement or the Russian draft.
Last month I met Eve Brackenbury, a gifted poet who co-owns Inklings’ Books & Coffee Shoppe in Blue Springs, Missouri, on Facebook. Social Media is my friend.
Not only did I make a new friend that day, I also made a valuable connection on many fronts. Our first conversation dealt with the challenges of marketing. As we chatted in an IM she said, “You write Jewish Historical Fiction. Are you Jewish?” Is the Pope Catholic?
Eve told me about the CloudBursT Jewish Poetry event and gave me Martha Gershun’s email address. Although I don’t write what I would call poetry, I thought perhaps Martha might be able to point me in the right direction as far as reaching a Jewish audience. I inserted one of my Jewish themed flash fictions in my email to her and, not five minutes later, the return email came with, “That’s really powerful. Would you like to come and read?”
Martha Gershun- CloudBursT organizer and poet
I must’ve changed my mind twelve times as to which stories I would read. Finally, the day came, Sunday, May 21, and I’d narrowed it down to four of my favorites. The lobby of Congregation Beth Torah teemed with poets and their guests. We were warmly welcomed with food, wine and friendly conversation.
So much Yiddishkeit. I felt like I’d come home. I particularly enjoyed Ellen Portnoy’s piece “The Nuances of Nu.”
Out of 19 who read, I was third to the last, just before Eve. The ones I read are as follows:
THE ELEVENTH COMMANDMENT
In preparation for his bar mitzvah, twelve-year-old Harvey Weinstein opened the book to his parashah. His stomach rumbled. “I’m hungry.”
“Sh’mot beginning with Chapter 16,” said Rabbi Shmuel. “First in English, then Hebrew.”
Harvey fumed. “I’m tired of Torah. I’d rather play Xbox.”
“This is the perfect reading for you.” The rabbi winked and pointed to the page. “The children of Israel kvetched day and night in the wilderness. ‘Oy, Moses, we’re wet. We’re cold. We’re starving to death.’ Nu? Is there something we can learn from them?”
“Yeah.” Folding his arms across his chest, Harvey smirked. “Jews don’t camp.”
“‘And they lived happily ever after.’” Leah shut the storybook.
Shifra’s raisin-brown eyes, round as bottle caps, sparkled. “Bubbie? Did you love Grandpa at first sight?”
“He was only eight when we met. Mama took him in…hid him from the khappers, bad men who snatched little Jewish boys from their homes and made them serve twenty-five years in the Czar’s army.”
“Did she hide him in the closet?”
“No she was smart, my Mama.”
“He was like your brother, right?”
Leah pointed to a tintype on the table of two little bonneted girls and grinned. “More like my sister.”
THE HEAVIEST WHEEL ROLLS ACROSS OUR FOREHEADS
When I was a little girl in the 1950’s, Mom used to take me to visit my aunt in St. Louis. I so looked forward to those train rides. Sunlight dazzled through the trees as they whizzed by and the rhythm of the wheels along the track soothed me.
Dad, on the other hand, hated trains, but would never tell me why. Only once did he accompany us.
As we left Union Station, tears trickled from the corners of his faraway eyes.
“Daddy, what’s wrong?”
“The stench was unbearable. Fifty of us crammed into a cattle car. I alone escaped.”
HATH NOT A JEW EYES?
Do you know the word “Jew” is a common insult among Norwegian teens? Should this bother me? After all, I am a Norwegian Jew.
“If you prick us, do we not bleed?”
Reptilian? I’ve been called this. Do people seriously believe this mishegoss—that Jews are lizard creatures from another planet?
“If you tickle us, do we not laugh?”
I will never forget holding my father’s hand as we strolled along a mountain path. Two youths shoved him and shouted, “Child murderer!”
The memory of warm spittle dripping down my face sickens me still.
“If you wrong us, do we not revenge?”
Not in Norway. Instead, we hide in plain sight.
Last summer a group of Hasidim invited us to a Jewish gathering in Oslo. We cranked up the music and danced in front of Parliament.
I’ve heard that work makes us free, but we’re not falling for that again.
Poets Estelle and Virginia
Ellen Portnoy on the left. Nu? Have you clicked the link and read her article?
After spending two hours watching videos about Palau’s history, politics and current world status I ended up writing about a former coworker. This is the story that wouldn’t leave. I write about her in the past tense only because I’m gleefully retired from cake decorating. The story is mostly true. 😉
Word Count: 150
Ivonne was one of the most exasperating decorators I worked with during my off-and-on bakery career. While creative and talented, she would be quick one day and move with glacial speed the next with nothing in between.
This is not to say I didn’t like her. I did. She had a keen sense of humor and an easy smile. With kinky hair and dark skin, I assumed the obvious, until the day her mother came to the shop to visit her—a diminutive lady with almond eyes and straight black hair.
“What’s her nationality?” I asked Ivonne. “If you don’t mind my asking.”
“Nah. I’m used to it.” She tilted her head and stared off in the distance. “Dad was stationed in Palau. I was never black enough or Micronesian enough. Now I have two children who are all that and half Caucasian. What race does that make them?”
One of the differences you might notice in my Pegman stories is that my stories do fit the prompt more closely than in Friday Fictioneers. The difference is that participants in this challenge can ‘make the punishment fit the crime.’ 😉 In other words, as long as we stay in the vicinity, we can choose the photo we want to use. Not to mention, there’s the sheer luxury of 50 more words. 😀
No surprises. My story is Historical Fiction. A little more recent than most, this takes place in Christchurch on February 22, 2011 when the city was shaken to its foundation by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake.
Word Count: 150
ACT OF GOD
Sack full of cardboard containers in hand, I pushed the restaurant door open with my foot. The aroma of soy sauce and seafood made my empty stomach growl.
I shoved the dog that blocked my path. “Out of my way! You’ll make me late for work.”
Her ribs practically poked through her black fur. “Poor thing.” I reached into my sack and pulled out a piece of shrimp. “Now scat!”
Moments later, amid screams, barking and smashing glass, I lay trapped under piles of debris.
Two weeks later, following extensive surgery, my right leg and life as I knew it were memories. 185 of my coworkers at CTV had perished.
The authorities wanted to euthanize the dog for she’d lost her hind legs. I couldn’t let them, could I?
Today, Awhina the Wonder Dog shares my home. Looking back over the past two years, I ask myself, who saved whom?
Note: Awhina, pronounced ‘Afeena,’ is a name that means ‘help or support’ in the Maori language. Kia Ora and thank you for reading. 😀
The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit.
There is a scene in my second novel, FROM SILT AND ASHES, where Yussel Gitterman tells his grandchildren that the Almighty is merciful. His fifteen-year-old grandson, who has survived the violence in Eastern Europe, lashes out. “When we light candles for the dead, it will start a bonfire. How can you call that God’s mercy?”
Yussel, who is blind, answers by pressing his hand over Lev’s eyes. He then challenges the boy to see his surroundings with his ears, nose and skin.
“Tell me what you hear, Lev.”
“I hear Bayla and Evie’s giggles.”
For a moment Lev stood still, bit his lip and cocked his head. “Kreplakh’s (dog) snoring under the sofa. Tikvah’s (infant) bawling.”
“Good, Lev. Now what do you smell?”
“What do I smell?” Lev’s voice scaled up an octave with each word.
“You have a nose?”
“And it works?”
“All right. All right. I smell…mm…sponge cake and apple pie. Coffee. Aunt Cate’s lavender perfume and Uncle Wolf’s nasty cigar.”
“You see, Lev, not all smells are pleasant. Not all sounds are sweet. But…we are alive. That, my son, is God’s mercy.”
I exercise at least five days a week—sometimes less, sometimes more. More often than not, depending on the weather, I walk to the fitness center, a little over a mile away. This way I am able to do both weight bearing and aerobic exercise.
To some, swimming laps might seem like the penultimate boredom. Not to this Spanish Dancer. The gurgle and swish of the waves is music. I note the difference in watery tones as I vary my strokes and the way the water billows when I exhale. As I flip-turn like an Olympic swimmer to change directions, I’m weightless, buoyed by the current. Unlike an Olympic swimmer embroiled in a race, I take my time when I somersault and enjoy the patterns the ripples make. As I suspend for a few seconds I note the way the water blossoms overhead.
Spanish Dancer Human
Spanish Dancer Jellyfish
Once showered and dressed, I’m ready for my mile trek home.
Spring is upon us and splashes of color are everywhere—bright yellow Daffodils and Dandelions—Redbuds and Dogwoods, stunning against a Payne’s grey sky. I fill my eyes with them.
The scent of charcoal from someone’s fire the night before hangs on the breeze. Exhaust fumes and a hint of cigarette smoke taint the rain and grass scented air. I wrinkle my nose. “Not all smells are pleasant.” As I near home I breathe in the scent of hyacinths from a neighbor’s garden.
Crossing a bridge I, listen to the voice of the water as it flows over rocks. Although I don’t know one bird’s call from another, I can tell that there are several different species singing their arias. Robins, geese, crows and owls are among the few I recognize. A lawnmower starts up in the distance. A rooster crows. Two dogs bark as I pass their turf. A chainsaw grinds and a rake scrapes the sidewalk. “Not all sounds are sweet.”
I had great fun this past week interviewing with fellow author Sarah Potter. The magic of the internet and Skype certainly shorten the distance between us. What interesting times we live in. Thank you, Sarah!
I’m thrilled to welcome author, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields to my blog for a second time, on this happy occasion to interview her about her writing. For those of you who missed her guest storyteller post back in November of last year, here’s a recap of her biography.
Kansas City native Rochelle Wisoff-Fields is a woman of Jewish descent and the granddaughter of Eastern European immigrants. She has a close personal connection to Jewish history, which has been a recurring theme throughout much of her writing. Growing up, she was heavily influenced by the Sholom Aleichem stories, the basis for Fiddler on the Roof. Her novels Please Say Kaddish for Me, From Silt and Ashes and As One Must, One Can were born of her desire to share the darker side of these beloved tales—the history that can be difficult to view, much less embrace.