A Last Look At Home

chuo tokyo

© Google 2016

“I never thought I’d see Chūō-ku again.”

“Does it look that different, Hiro?”

“I miss the waterways. It’s different, but it’s home.”

“I’m almost sorry I brought you here, given what’s about to happen to you.”

“You said what happens to me happened over seventy years ago.”

“You’ll still have to return.”

“And die, I know. But I’m curious why your Isis had you bring me here to the ward where I was born.”

“Look there.” The Time Traveler pointed to the fish market on the corner. A family, three generations of them, were just opening up.

“Your son, his children, and their children.”

Hiro’s eyes moistened. “They survived.”

“One last look at home, Hiro.”

“Thank you, Martin. Now I can die in peace, knowing my family lives on.”

“It’s time for me to take you back to Hiroshima.”

“Back to my present, Monday, August 6, 1945. I’m ready.”

I wrote this in response to the What Pegman Saw photo challenge. The goal is to use the photo at the top of the page as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. Mine came in at 147.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The photo prompt is a 2016 street view of a ward of Tokyo called Chūō-ku, which literally means “Central Ward”. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and among other things, found out that after World War II, much of Chuo City was rebuilt and many of its numerous waterways filled in to make space for more buildings and roads.

I leveraged time traveler Martin Fields, who I featured in a seven-part series beginning with On Wednesday, The Time Traveler Got Wet, in order to give a Japanese man from 1945 a chance to see what had become of his family after seventy years. He gets a look at them in the 21st century before returning to his fate in Hiroshima the day the Atomic Bomb was dropped.

Why the other-worldly being known as Isis would have given this gift to a single individual is not revealed, but it’s enough that it was given.

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19 thoughts on “A Last Look At Home

  1. Interesting take on the prompt. Of of the things about the atomic bomb was that, for the Japanese, it was just another city that had been utterly destroyed. Between April and August of 1945, 65% of all Japanese urban areas had been firebombed by American B-29s and completely incinerated (along with the people who lived there). The places dropped clusters of ingenious firebombs that fluttered to the earth trailing streamers. When they hit the ground, they shot little cheesecloth bags filled with napalm and white phosphorus like lethal Roman candles. City after city burned to the ground. When Tokyo was firebombed in April, the people of this neighborhood retreated to the rivers in hopes of escaping the fire. Instead of relief, they were boiled alive. Americans viewed the Japanese as sub-human vermin and so were conveniently spared any crisis of conscience about what was done in their name. So yeah, Hiroshima. But the truth of the story is so very much worse. I encourage you to dig deeper. http://apjjf.org/-Mark-Selden/2414/article.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. It would have been difficult to compress all of that into 150 words. 😉

      Of course most people today only resonate what we did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and as I recall, there were some terrible things done by the military on “both sides of the aisle,” so to speak.

      If I had a larger word count to work with, I would have developed the character of Hiro. Some decades ago, I read a small book called Hiroshima by John Hersey, which examined the event from the point of view of several “ordinary” people. I believe one was a physician. I would have cast Hiro in that role and have him survive the nuclear blast only to have to deal with the horrible aftermath.

      Then the trip forward in time would be to illustrate that no matter what terrible things he would witness, life would eventually get better and his family would continue.

      Thanks for the link. I’ll have a look.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, the Hersey book is a stunner, especially when you consider when it was written. There is a great early Kurosawa film called Stray Dog that shows what Tokyo was like in 1946-47. It’s definitely a rich environment for stories.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Remember, Martin can only change just certain things, and he doesn’t even get to choose what those things are. Besides, trying to chart what history might have been like if he somehow stopped the nuclear bombings would stretch my abilities quite a bit.

      Decades ago, I read a book about the atomic bombings in Japan being faked. The Americans failed at creating “the Bomb”. So they artificially created the destruction (and as J Hardy described, we were really good at doing that) and the aftereffects in order to convince the world we had the ultimate weapon. I can’t remember the name of the book or who wrote it, but apparently this blogger takes it all too seriously.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. There’s a particular documentary I saw years ago, that I have tried more than once to find online so that I can obtain a copy for myself. I don’t remember if it was PBS, History Channel, Discovery, etc., but I’ve looked around. I don’t remember the programming name either. I wish I could remember even whether it was in two or three parts, or one episode. It was about the experience of one’s city being atomically bombed, through the eyes of children’s art (children who were there). If anyone knows anything about the program, please, I’d like to hear about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the build up, the reveal of the time travel element in the middle and then the great poignancy at the end without it being too explicit — all in 150 words! It was like the tip of an iceberg, with so much yet to be revealed, and reminded me of Slaughterhouse Five. Nicely done.

    Like

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