Friday Fictioneers – Bargee

Photo Prompt © Fatima Fakier Deria

Oily water slaps glaucous against the barge’s flank. A dead rat floats past. I unload crates of strawberries, already sweet-scented in the early morning sun. By lunch-time, ladies and gentleman in the piazza will remark on the fruit’s succulence as they lean conspiratorial towards each other across starched linen tablecloths.

I was not born to labour. Perhaps my father was a Duke. They tore me from my mother’s arms and gave me to Mabel and Henry, good honest people who pretend to be my parents. This is not my past, but it’s the only one available.


Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

66 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Bargee

  1. Neil, you painted some detailed word pictures here, but my favourite was your last line: “This is not my past, but it’s the only one available.” Ever since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by adoption and secret, unknown lives, although the prospect of having no personal family history and not knowing how I fit into the world, you be very difficult for me. I am totally obsessed with family history and capturing and retelling those stories.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lovely descriptions and contrasts, Neil. The elaborate description of the water, the plain deadness of the rat. The conspiratorial couple. A masterclass in how to distil a vast plot and its endless possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the way it ends with some character development and we get to learn how much the protagonist accepts his fate. Great imagery and overall beautiful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You found a pleasant, friendly voice for your narrator and that drew me in, made me want to read. The description was vivid (even the dead rat!). I loved the significant detail “crates of strawberries, already sweet-scented in the early morning sun,” which gives verisimilitude and again drew me in. Your story is a pleasure to read, Neil.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The descriptions are perfect. The scent of the strawberries made me think they might be on the overripe side (because I live in strawberry country) and was relieved when the ladies and gents leaned over to enjoy the flavor. And, perhaps, when your torn from your mother’s arms and given to Mabel and Henry you are born to labor. Just sayin’. A beautiful write. So many sights and smells. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Is he deluding himself or does he know or feel he knows something about his past? I love your descriptions – spare but evocative and colourful, giving us a sense of place and of his place in the world. Lovely reading Neil

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The detailed description of the first paragraph is a stark contrast to the holes of not knowing in the second. A story that leaves us wondering along with him where he came from.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can just hear him speaking. He’s telling us the story of his life as he sees it now, but he’s about to embark on a journey to discover his past. There’s a lot more to this story.


  9. This captured the image perfectly. The way it reflected the real Venice that tourists overlook. The labourers and workers who keep the city afloat and running. I suspect he is with his real family but has some ambition that is yet to be unleashed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I may not be able to describe it in a detailed flowery kind of way like the comments before mine have done for I am just an amateur writer; still honing the craft.
    All I can say is the hint of melancholia and one’s helpless resignation to fate was so beautifully described in this line- This is not my past, but it’s the only one available.
    The imagery was so vivid. I could almost see myself going back to Venice and sitting in one of those open-air restaurants in the piazza, happily chatting away with my friends and family, completely oblivious to the existence of these behind-the-scenes people who make my travel experiences memorable.

    Liked by 1 person

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