Under This Standing

This week What Pegman Saw takes us to the library in the Peabody Institute, Baltimore. Picture above courtesy of the Walter’s Art Museum, Baltimore.

For this WhatPegmanSaw challenge, I have incorporated some flash fiction advice from David Gaffney (author of Sawn Off Tales and More Sawn Off Tales) someone who was on my radar during my MA in Creative Writing, whom I have only recently read. His advice for flashes boils down to six points (which are explained in this Guardian article):

  1. Start in the middle
  2. Don’t use too many characters
  3. Make sure the ending isn’t at the end
  4. Sweat your title
  5. Make your last line ring like a bell
  6. Write long, then go short

Other contributors’ stories can be found by clicking the la’al blue froggy button below.




Kelvin M. Knight

From the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum to here. Why had she brought him here? He wanted to go to the grand library at the Peabody Institute, splash about in oceans of books, but she said he needed to ground himself. Reflect a while. Well, he’d been reflecting for the longest while. Now he was bored.

There are no more whiles, he ventured. There is just being. His thoughts echoed around this cavernous room.

The paintings either side of him said nothing, yet her look spoke reams. There is truth inside you.

He knew this. Truth and justice. There was something else, too. Something which warmed the coldness. Something which cheered that sadness. Some expectation within and without him. Something which filled him, was constantly refilling him.

What? he gasped, trembling.

Smiling, she held him tightly.

He revisited the Wax Museum now. There was much he needed to learn.

(150 words)


39 thoughts on “Under This Standing

  1. An intriguing story Kelvin, I felt a strong sense of the man- feeling a bit lost, bored. You use language so thoughtfully. I confess that I didn’t get all of the references, its my ignorance of the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. That’s OK as I love the pegman challenge for expanding my horizons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right Francine, I do think about language a lot. I spend a lot of time in a dictionary finding the right word – or maybe that’s an excuse for loving words and their meanings their nuances. I am intrigued you felt the man’s lostness. The next story I wrote – one for my up and coming anthology is all about a woman being lost… so maybe that was bubbling in my mind 🤔 and no worries on not getting all the references- so long as you got something and enjoyed reading it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how everyone is discussing the tips you supplied… Tips are just that, suggestions, not rules, as far as I am concerned.
    As for your story, I get the feeling he is learning about his heritage – things he did not know…
    It is a story that does make us think. Which is good.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. hi one more note –
    with all my crankiness over the tips for flash
    – well I just so happen to LOVE your title
    under the standing is a nice play on words and added to the depth here – and it pulled me right in

    Liked by 1 person

      1. well I see that I commented on the title twice (my last reply brought it up) – had a whirlwind month – fun – but whew – missing my normal blog flow

        Liked by 1 person

      2. oh it is not too breathless – had a special event – and now have a to do list (that I have only tackled 25% because i also rested – lol)
        and thanks for the nice reply

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am not sure I got all of the brilliance this piece had to offer – and not sure what a few lines meant – like this” There are no more whiles, he ventured.”

    Is this a new style for you? Just curious >
    anyhow, I did feel like we were getting a glimpse into a nice social exchange and felt curious – and it also fit your image choice really well –
    oh and my top takeaway was imagining a splashing in a sea of books

    Liked by 1 person

  5. well first – thanks for the tips from the guardian – but the only one I really like – is the start long – because sometimes when we let it flow we get what we need and then edit it to be succinct.

    and I know it was just a suggestion – but thank god everyone does not follow that formula – how boring – well sure folks could change it up to keep content changing – but just not feeling his formula at all.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. oh I see – and I apologize for writing such an opinionated comment and then not coming back for a bit. Super busy (and fun) month so far.
        and my blog connections have whispered to me while away.

        and your post here actually had me thinking a lot – I have been wanting to write about my flash fiction experience and so what you shared here is mulling into some thoughts I have already been having.

        and by the way – I really love the title – the play on words was fun and it was one of those titles that just make us chew on it and can sometimes stand on their own.
        For example – some book titles are this way – the old classic from many decades ago called :”The Hurried Child” comes to mind. Even without reading the book there is much to ponder.

        and the “tips”
        here had me “react” a little because they seemed to target one approach to flash fiction.
        Maybe I said that already – but poetry came to mind –
        and some poets sweat the title – they sweat each owrd – its placement – the meter – and all that.

        and there are certain forms of poetry I just cannot enjoy (unless breaking it down with a class in a lit study)
        and so my thoughts were in that realm –
        thank God not all flash fiction follows these tips.
        sometimes a simple little title (that was not sweated over) can be an enrichment to a short fiction – and sometimes too complicated of a title is pulling from the flow and enjoyment (depending on the piece) –
        maybe it is thinking of a Baroque side table vs. a modern minimal one.

        Also, a few months ago I read someone’s very short fiction (not related to FF) that they entered into a contest and it was way over done (IMO) – the title was like “WTF” and the content just seemed so deep it demanded an author’s note to help us “see” –
        and I guess again it comes down to the reader’s aim and preference.

        lastly, it was awesome that you shared “tips” because in my humble opinion you are the kind of experienced writer who should be posting your own tips. You are that good of a writer – with your unique style and all that – and part of your humble side is shown that you would share these tips – and promote this guys list. Of course you probably really like the tips – but the way you shared them was to empower and educate your readers while sharing what works for you – rather than trying to be online to “show off” or puff up by always sharing what you know.
        You are quite humble – and maybe later we will get some KK tips –
        in the meantime – thanks for being open to feedback on what you do share,.
        I really don’t “love” the tips here and it was SUPER nice to feel comfortable to speak up (and sorry it took me a bit to return) =

        hope you have a nice day amigo

        Liked by 1 person

  6. By the ending not coming at the end, I assume that means the tale needs to have a continuation beyond its confines. Sorry, I’m not very sophisticated. The last writing class I took was decades ago.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s exactly it, I think, particularly with flash fiction and short stories not so with novels maybe where character arcs come into play. And , James, I think your stories are sophisticated . They certainly get me a thinking as I hope mine here does but it doesn’t feel it from the first two comments. 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t “get” your story. I’m probably missing something, but then again, I’m still sucking down coffee and trying to compensate for a lot of lost sleep this week. No insult on you, Kelvin. Sometimes, I’m just dense.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hope the lost sleep is not a prelude to an illness, James. I wish you well. Three cheers for coffee. You probably are missing something on my story which is fine. I was trying to get reader think as per David Gaffney’s advice. 🤔

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Rochelle – I had to chime in because I disagreed with so many of the tips offered – and especially the title for flash pieces – nah.. I’d say don’t sweat it at all – but use it SIMPLY to help your short fiction come alive –

      Liked by 1 person

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