So this is another Flash Fiction story that I entered into Writer Unboxed’s flash fiction contest that was held last year… (Just posting it now because a) I haven’t written anything in a while and b) I’m afraid you’ll think I’ve shriveled up and crawled under a rock during spring break…) (Insert goofy emoji face here…) The rules? 250 words or less, based on the photo prompt. Beginning, middle, and end required.
The tour guide wore a pair of brown Oxfords, a pince-nez, and a librarian bun.
“This was one of five tunnels built here for the transcontinental railway in the late 1800s,” she said, adjusting her glasses on her nose. “White workers were difficult to come by, so they hired the Chinese. Mostly for setting the detonations. They were cheap.”
The guide paused.
The now-defunct railway had left a deep scar carved through the slope.
Melissa stood quietly in the group. A grey-haired man beside her snorted “harrumph”; she noted his hyena-like face and pale rheumy eyes, and she watched as he stared blankly up the mountain’s treacherous incline. As the group started to walk under the archway towards the next tunnel, he brushed abruptly passed her, turning and glaring at her as he did.
“The tunnel that was originally here collapsed twenty years ago…”
She pulled a photo and plastic bag out from her pocket.
“…and then this smaller archway was built.”
The photo was a young Chinese man standing in a kitchen. She placed it inside the bag and then walked towards the archway after them. Finding a thin crevice in the bricks, she nudged the bag in, recalling the writing on the back of the photo:
“This is my great-grandfather, An Lo Chin. My grandmother said he was good at fixing bicycles and cooking. He limped from chopping off his own toe. He helped build this railroad and died doing it.
Lest We Forget.”