What we learn from others. What we learn from our own journeys. Migrations come in many stories as evidenced by this week’s line-up of flash fiction. We often learn from other cultures without giving the acknowledged nod to the gift. Or we experience the exchange as something so new we see the gift but struggle to gain it.
Human migration is not about current events or about “others.” Human migration is the story of all of us. Even indigenous cultures migrated on small or big scales. It is those who write the history books who define the borders of such migrations. We can see its impact all around us and even recognize than on small scales, we migrate, too — new jobs, renewed life events, moves to other communities.
This week’s compilation will give readers a fresh outlook on migration. Consider these stories as you read current news. Consider your own life, that of your ancestors or even the path you’ve led thus far. Consider our connections to one another. No country, no culture is isolated unto itself. The following is based on the September 2, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that shows the interaction of a migrant culture on the place of migration.
Leaving Earth. 2147 by Ula Humienik
I looked as the Earth became smaller and smaller.
Its blueness shone in the dark void of space.
Soon, gold lights appeared.
At first small specs,
then figures of human size.
As each approached me, it seemed as if they were greeting me.
I said nothing,
unsure if what I was seeing wasn’t a dream.
Then, their color changed to indigo
and they merged into one big half circle
with a dot of the Earth in the background.
I felt their warmness and welcome
and felt surrounded by old familiars.
I could go on in my journey,
Flash Fiction by Katherine Sorensen
“It’s not who you are, it’s how much you are willing to give.” Sarah glanced at her second hand dress, suddenly aware of the faint stain on the front. “We live in a take, take, take society.” It had taken so much courage to walk away from Bob; away from the belittling, the name calling, the threats. “If you’re not giving, you’re not growing.” I have nothing to give she thought. I just want peace, I just want a place to belong, I just want to feel like a worthwhile person again. Maybe next week I’ll try St. Stephen’s.
In Another’s Shoes by Geoff Le Pard
Paul put down the phone. ‘The police. They wanted us to know that child they found – it wasn’t a ritual killing. The family had come from West Africa; it was their way of burying their dead.’
‘But the child had been dismembered.’ Mary shuddered. ‘I don’t understand it.’
‘If you’ve been brought up in a culture where it’s the only way to behave, how do you know different?’
‘You just should. It’s barbaric.’
‘It wasn’t that long ago we drowned witches. Maybe we need to empathise a little more, love. Put ourselves in their shoes.’
Mary nodded uncertainly.
Welcome by Dave Madden
Without coloring outside the lines of my persona, I comforted, coached, and corralled Valentina through the beginning of her first day of school in the walls of a country that was equally fresh.
Aware that I sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Wah-wah wah,” I continued my attempt to clarify a world in desperate need of closed captioning.
I reached into my bag of pedagogical tricks as to ensure my lessons were packed with TPR (Total Physical Response), pictures, videos, labels, cognates, and any realia to aid understanding.
Language barriers are cracked when cocked heads of confusion crumble into conversation.
Friendship Star by Ann Edall-Robson
A month with her aging Aunt who had no television, no internet, no mall and no cell service. What was she thinking?
She had arrived with none of skills necessary to survive in this woman’s lifestyle. Food, clothes and entertainment came from a store!
Now she could bake her favourite gingersnaps; and her Aunt had taught her to sew. Together, they worked on a Friendship Star quilt.
She balked at milking the cow. Her Aunt was patient and so was the cow.
The wise, gentle woman had changed her life. It would be hard to leave her newfound friend.
Alabama Watermelons by A. R. Amore
After complaints numbering in the thousands, the state sent Joe convicts to pick his watermelons. The governor’s degree had scared Joe’s migrant laborers away fearing deportation or worse. Dressed in denim jumpsuits with a broad white stripe down the middle, a busload of prisoners arrived at sunup and two hours into their workday all but three men had collapsed and refused to work. Joe’s foreman, Alejandro shook his head and just smiled; the three who labored hardest were Mexican. The flatbed rolled though the rows while two men followed tossing the melons upward to be caught by the third.
True Grits by Larry LaForge
Ed smiled as the hostess handed him the menu. Edna caught his eye and knew exactly what he was thinking.
They both remembered their first encounter with the strange concoction.
Many years ago, after migrating to the Deep South, they stopped by the local breakfast spot. The server couldn’t hide her amusement at their unfamiliarity with the most popular menu item. “Huh? For breakfast?” Ed asked innocently.
On this day, Ed and Edna settled into their booth, not needing to consult the menu.
Edna ordered first. “Sunrise Special with a double serving of grits.”
Ed nodded. “Same for me.”
Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin
Swelling with pride, I presented my proposals. This was how I’d prove myself to those who considered me too young for the job. I’d produced a cracking itinerary for our overseas guests: a day at the gymkhana with an evening at the Mela on the Golden Mile. All I needed was the committee’s go-ahead to book a table at Kayal’s.
The chairman coughed. “It’s supposed to showcase Leicester’s best.”
“And our English culture.”
“What’s more English than chicken tikka masala?”
“But our visitors are from India, remember. Don’t you think they’d prefer something they can’t get at home?”
Strong-Armed by Pete Fanning
I was conceived in war. Soiled in fear and raised in hate. I lay in the dark. In the trunks of cars. The hills of Honduras. Slung over a shoulder in the stifling heat of Mexico. In your neighbor’s closet.
I speak a universal language: Violence. Money. Desolate villages in the hills. Drug lords. Gangs. Government. I know no customs. Where there is man I thrive. I skitter across borders. Between laws and under the loopholes. I even go to school.
Every day we migrate. Millions of us. Millions of dollars, pesos, lempiras. Kilos and ounces.
Millions of children.
Conquering the North with a Pie by Paula Moyer
Jean’s grad-school move from Oklahoma to Minnesota – three months old.
Thanksgiving was coming up. In 1975, pecan pie in Minnesota was a rarity. The trees flourished in Oklahoma; Jean’s mother sent freshly shelled pecans from her backyard tree.
Dinner invitation from a married classmate. Did she dare?
Jean bussed to the store with a list, juggled bags and pie pan on the way back. She commandeered the kitchen on her dorm room floor. Pop can for a rolling pin.
The smell of Jean’s wafted into the house before her. The kitchen-gathered friends rotated toward the aroma. Stood and applauded.
Unwanted/Wanted by Irene Waters
I’d wash my clothes at the seaside with the women. I’d learn to agitate them in the salty suds and beat them clean on the rocks. My clothes wouldn’t last long, but friendships would be forged with the women.
Emi no wannem woman blong whitefalla here. Sippos emi come long beach me falla no talk talk evri something long gossip, long pikannini, long man blong me falla. No me falla washem clothes blong woman.
The tourists came and wanted the uncomplicated life of the local people. The local people agitated for televisions, money and the joys of western life.
Contributing Alien by Jules Paige
Adapting to a new country could be dicey. Gregorio did
what he knew how to do and that was to hawk his services.
Through the neighborhoods of the borough of Queens,
New York. He walked his wooden wheelbarrow, sharpened
knives and fixed umbrellas – door to door. He fed his family
through the depression that way. In this strange new world
where the streets weren’t paved with gold or honey.
The newspaper thought it would make a good story.
Immigrant makes good. Grandfather did not accept handouts.
Earning the right to make a home for his growing family.
A Shift by Sarah Unsicker
The phone call had her reeling.
Ten minutes ago, she had been busily going about her business, doing—what exactly? She could hardly remember. Now she sat, hand on her forehead, trying to take control of her spinning head.
Ten minutes, one friend, one phone call. A new life, the possibility floated before her. Still, she had to live her old life. She tried to remember what she was doing before that phone call. Correspondence? Could wait until she was grounded. The children? Were beginning to argue.
She stood up and took her first step toward her unimaginable life.
Manicured Invader by Pat Cummings
Sandy tapped the stress graph with an elegantly-polished fingernail. “That rock isn’t strong enough for 20% pillars,” she said coldly.
Doug prepared to use his football-linebacker tactics to lead the rock lab team, the fifth time he’d steamrollered Sandy’s input on this project on the basis “the girl” hadn’t run any of the rock-breaking tests herself.
“Wait, men! Um… people,” Colin’s African bass squeaked suddenly, a blush on his blue-black face. “My calculations agree with hers. Do you want to win arguments? Or pass the course?”
Sandy lifted an expertly-penciled eyebrow, and Doug caved. We went with her conclusions. A+.
Finding a Job in 1884 by Charli Mills
Brackish water plagued the settlement.
The stranger with a red beard pushed aside his cup of brown water. He ate boiled potatoes in silence among murmurs of Italian in the dining tent.
The foreman approached. “No jobs here. Move out after your meal.”
The stranger nodded; same greeting from camp to camp. Cheap labor in Washington Territory came from new migrants and no boss wanted a Metis from across the border.
Leaving, he paused, pulled out a forked willow and walked until the point plunged. “Dig here.”
The foreman smiled. “Wait. If there’s fresh water, you’ve got a job.”
Playground Connections by Norah Colvin
The adults dotted the perimeter, holding tight to their own; bound by the security of sameness reflected in their own eyes, excluded by fear felt for differences perceived in others: different dress and hair, unintelligible words and unfamiliar scents.
In the centre the children romped together, united in the secret language of smiles and laughter, funny looks and gentle patting hands; no words needed.
The children smiled, waving promises of future plays, as one by one the adults called them home, delighting in their children’s easy ways, wishing for their own nonprejudicial days. A nod. A smile. A beginning.
Welcoming Committee by Sarah Unsicker
Marie sat on the graffitied bench with her bag at her feet. The fifteen-story gray buildings surrounding the student center looked more institutional than educational, and she wondered whether she had made the right choice.
Of course the train had arrived at lunchtime. Marie didn’t expect a welcoming committee, but after fourteen hours of travel, she had hoped to get the dorm key when she arrived. Her stomach rumbled, but she had eaten her last granola bar hours ago.
A smiling round face approached, with a hand outstretched. “Wilkommen in Deutschland,” the best words Marie had heard all day.