Submissions Welcome

Stories on this page are owned solely by the author and are being published on this page with their permission. Copying or republishing these works without the express consent of the author is strictly forbidden.

For consideration in having your work published on this site, please submit your short stories via E-mail to The story must be fiction about Peru, a person in Peru, Peruvian customs, culture, history and/or mythology. Our group of writers will evaluate it's suitability for publishing on this site and either publish the work or inform the author of its rejection. A photo will be accepted for publising with the story if it adds to the piece.

One story a week will be published until submissions permit more frequent publications.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Something Better To Do

Written By:    Katrina Heimark (New member of the writers' group)

She was a woman who liked the idea of something, but could never commit herself. She liked the idea of walks along a rocky, desolate sea-shore, but could never convince herself to go out into the piercing wind. She was a person who enjoyed the idea of tea-time, but she never brewed a pot of tea. If she drank coffee, she forgot about it, and it was left to cool on the counter. She liked to write, above all, but could never work past those first few wobbly lines. 

“I am a much more interesting person on paper,” she would tell herself; and in part, she was. On paper she was interested in the outdoors, on paper she baked and ate bread fresh out of the oven, and on paper she was even good at making love. 

Every morning she would wake up and sigh, “Today I am really going to finish something—anything.” But she wouldn’t. She never did. 

She spent her days moping about, in a state of self-induced melancholy, without really realizing it. After all, it was her natural state of mind. “Oh, I’m just not good at that,” she would say, or “Really, I just have no time for that today,” or even, “I’d much rather spend time watching the birds, thank you, than have to do that.
And so her coffee would remain silently cooling, her pen would lay splayed across her “to do” list, and there was always a ball of yarn asleep at her feet. 

It was then, on one of the most ordinary mornings, while she was beginning something that she likely would never finish, that it came to her in the form of a knock on the door.

“I’ve got a delivery for you, ma’am,” said a gruff voice, spilling out from under a blue Serpost hat. “Could you please sign here?” oh dear, she thought. “Oh my,” she whispered. who would ever send me a package?

“Well,” said the post man, a bit taken aback, “Most people are happy to receive packages. It’s nothing to be afraid of. Just think of it as a nice surprise for you today.” He smiled as he took the pen from her. “Enjoy it, ma’am.”

She took the package. Unsure of what exactly to do with it, she brought the box inside. She even thought about opening it, but stopped herself before she got carried away. It was a decent sized box, and it certainly didn’t weigh much. 

It took her the better part of the day to get around to opening it, and even then, she was hesitant. oh dear…what if its something I don’t particularly want? maybe I’ll just leave it by the door. But something encouraged at her to open it. Inch by inch she tugged and pulled at the tape cautiously, and along with a bit of fear. 

Finally, she opened the lid, and there it was. Small, golden colored, and very much alive. “A Pepper Plant?” She cried. “Who would send me a pepper plant?” 

It was only then that she noticed the address wasn’t hers. “Oh dear. There you have it, I’ve opened someone else’s mail. And that’s the reward I get for finishing something I started! My goodness me!” She stood up abruptly, and sped into the other room, leaving the plant, the box and her scissors behind her. Everything, of course, in a half-completed mess on the floor.

But after a while, she had nothing better to do, so she went back to the living room. “A pepper plant!” she repeated all afternoon, with different levels of awe, disbelief and frustration. “There isn’t much use in me sending it back, seeing as I’ve opened it and all. Serpost would be sure to lose it, wouldn’t they? And besides, it does need some water.”

As she reached carefully into the box, she began to talk with the pepper plant, crooning words of welcome, and caressing the finger-like spires that protruded from the green leaves. “I’m sure you wouldn’t survive the return trip, now would you? Who knows how they would treat you wherever you are going, anyway.” And she moved, plant in hand, into the kitchen for some water. 

“Now, I’ve no idea where I will put you,” she remarked. “There isn’t much room in this place, but I suppose you will need a window. I could hardly put you in my room—that wouldn’t feel right. I guess you should be in the kitchen. We’ll see how you do for now.” She stuck the plant by a slightly open window, and swore that its leaves moved in appreciation. The plant looked out the window at rows and rows and rows of houses and apartments. An extensive city stretched out before him, with a hint of the ocean visible through the fog. A bleak view, to say the least, if it weren’t for a tiny ray of sunshine that peeked through the clouds and illuminated the windowsill.

“Ha! That’s fitting,” she laughed, “The sun doesn’t come out here often. I guess the kitchen is just the right spot for you.” 

The next morning the woman woke up and made herself a steaming cup of coffee. She stood by the plant as she drank it, inspected its leaves, the small insects that seemed to have come with the plant, and the fingery peppers themselves. 

She began to talk to the plant, introducing herself, and tried to get to know it better and better. “You know, I suppose since we are going to be living together, there are a few things you should know about me. I don’t particularly like loud noises, I can’t stand the cold, and I never finish a cup of coffee.”

That last one surprised even her. I always finish my cup of coffee!

You didn’t yesterday. The plant seemed to respond. 

That’s not true! Maybe I did set it out in the morning, but I always finish it in the afternoon!
To that, the plant responded by pointing one of its long peppers at the row of half-empty cups along the counter. 

“Well, I’ll show you!” And she responded to the plant by finishing her entire cup of steaming coffee. 

She didn’t even wait for it to cool.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Shoeshine

Written by:      Larry J. Pitman

Some years ago, when I first moved to Barranco, I started having a problem with this guy who desperately wanted to shine my shoes.

I guess that he spent all his time on the street. That was where I saw him for the first time. I was walking around town doing some errands when I realized that he was following me, aggressively asserting his desire to shine my shoes. He was different from the others who shine shoes for a living. He was much older, middle-aged, in his forties, and mature in appearance.

His forehead was wrinkled in a fixed frown, which gave him a permanently puzzled look. He was very slender. He wore pants that were too large for him, held up by a belt that was too long, wrapped almost twice around his waist. Brown penetrating eyes, a narrow face, deeply furrowed gave him a scary look.

I never learned his name.

His gestures were jerky, almost agitated, betraying a latent energy that sometimes I took to be menacing. When we came across each other in the street, he was always pointing down at my shoes using two fingers in an inverse “V” position. Shouting,

“lustre, lustre,”

“Shine, shine.”

He carried his shoe shine box with him ready to start working.

I never, ever agreed to let him shine my shoes. I would ignore his pleas and walk on because I believed that once I gave in, he would never let me have any peace. After our first encounter, however, it seemed like he was everywhere I went. It was always the same: he would demand to shine my shoes. It was the same routine every time we met. First he shouted the demand. Then he pointed at my shoes, in case I didn’t understand. Then when I didn’t agree he would give me a look which I took to be anger or disgust.

I noticed that he didn’t bother other people at all. Perhaps he thought that this gringo was rich and easy.

Unfortunately, every time we met, he would then pester me for blocks. He took the pleasure out of my walks. I took different, less direct routes to the store, sometimes walking far out of my way, but somehow he still found me. It was as though he was searching for me.

Finally, I was totally frustrated. I was at my wit’s end. I started wearing tennis shoes instead of regular shoes whenever I went out. Then I could say truthfully, “I’m sorry, but I don’t need a shoe shine.”

When he saw that I wouldn’t let him shine my shoes, his shoulders would slump and he would slink away, rejected again. Yes, I did feel sorry for him, but not enough to give in.

Unfortunately, the next day, he would be back. His behavior never changed. Every day was the same. He never seemed to get permanently discouraged.

One day things did change, for the worse.

I was walking with a friend from Holland down Avenida Grau, the main street in Barranco. We were busy talking. I was distracted. I confess that I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on around me. We paused for a moment to look at a building.

Before I realized it, the shoeshine man came up silently, grabbed my shoe and started daubing it with polish. At first, I was taken totally by surprise. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to make a scene in front of my friend so I decided to let him go ahead. That was a huge mistake. When he was finished, he demanded ten soles, far more than the usual price. He did so, so loudly that I was embarrassed. I gave in to the demand.

After that he wasn’t satisfied with just trying to shine my shoes. He became even more aggressive. He wanted money. It was as though he had gotten the scent of blood and wanted more. Then, he started asking me to give him things and to take care of him, even buying food. When I refused, he would throw a tantrum in front of everybody. This continued for a long time. He was always getting angry at me, cursing me in public. He would growl and shake his fist at me.

I think everybody considered him a little crazy so I also just shook my head and tried to ignore him. It didn’t seem to discourage him, though, because every time he saw me it was the same.

This went on for several years, but I did see him less and less frequently. Then, hardly at all.

Yesterday I was walking down Avenida Grau once again when I happened to run into him. He looked at me, pointed to my shoes, the puzzled look still on his face as he said,

“When? When?”

Somehow, I have the feeling that it is all starting again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Love Is the Only Thing That Matters

Written by: Rinda Payne (guest author)

Ana sat on the couch, her hands relaxed in her lap, a soft smile playing over her lips. Her eyes sparkled. She leaned forward.

“Love is the most important thing in my life. Without love for my family, for my friends, for you, my life would be nothing. I pray every night for you. I embrace you Mona and greet you with love. My love streams out toward God, the Holy Virgin, Jesus and the saints. And their love returns to me. I know I am a blessed woman because love is the only thing that matters. All else is false.”

Mona, an American who had moved into Ana’s neighborhood outside of Cusco several years ago, sat opposite her. She was astonished by Ana’s outburst. Did Ana really love her as Ana said? If only love mattered to Ana, then why had she lied to her, not once but several times?

Her thoughts traveled back in time to May 2010 when Ana had begged her to buy books for the poor children at the village where Ana hosted an annual chocolatada1. “They have no books,” Ana said, her eyes tearing, her voice quavering. “If only you could provide them with some books.”

Mona remembered how eager she had been to visit the bookstores in Cusco and carefully select the books, a book a month. She had even queried Ana about the age groups of the children who would be reading them.

Her thoughts centered on the day, only four days before the chocolatada scheduled for 2011, when Ana had presented her with a list of the donors to the January 2010 chocolatada. Glancing through the list, she saw a donation, unexpected because of Ana’s claim that the children had no books: a woman had given 100 books to the children’s library.”

She handed Ana the books she had bought for the 2011 chocolatada. Ana looked at them and tossed them aside without commenting. She did the same with the paints and the paint brushes and the clothes that Mona had carefully folded so as not to wrinkle.

“I’d like to go to the chocolatada again, and I’ll help you sort the clothes like I did last year,” Mona offered. A long silence ensued.

Ana frowned. “We’re going to have the chocolatada this year in April. My husband cannot drive us to the community in January. Some of my friends are away. We do not have enough donations. Would you like to go on another bus trip? It will be this coming Sunday. The group will be visiting a town some 15 kilometers from the village where we hold the chocolatada. I’ve called my friends. One is being treated for cancer; another will be with her son in Lima; yet another broke her foot; Elaine, whom you know, has the flu. Perhaps you’d like to replace one of my friends. Why not join us? I’ll call you with the time and place to meet.”

Mona agreed that she would go on the bus trip.

Privately she thought: “A chocolatada in April?” Every year Ana chose the first Saturday after New Year’s Day for her chocolatada. This year had been no different. Several weeks ago Ana had confirmed the date with her. Mona doubted the change in plans. A bus trip the day after? Two long trips in one weekend? She sensed that something was very wrong.

She received no call from Mona about the bus trip.

A month after being told that the chocolatada would be in April, she discovered the truth from Ana’s husband who was unaware of his wife’s duplicity. Ana, her family and friends had held the chocolatada on the date originally planned, the first Saturday after New Year’s. Ana’s husband had replied to Mona’s cautious question about the bus trip, “What bus trip?”

Mona suddenly recalled the warning that she had been given by a woman from Lima. The woman had been her seatmate on the flight from Lima to Cusco that had brought Mona to her new home. “Beware. My friends from Lima who live and work in Cusco tell me that the people in Cusco stab one in the back.”

1) Chocolatada: a group-sponsored event for underprivileged children at Christmas time, featuring hot chocolate, bread, sweets and toys.


Peru Writers' Group welcomes Rinda to our blog and we hope that she will submit more pieces for us to post. The following is a short "Bio" that Rinda submtted to let the readers know a little bit about her.

"In 2003 I received a strong calling to live in Cusco while I was taking a workshop in Vermont with Juan Nunez del Prado from Cusco. (Juan's father, Oscar Nunez del Prado, led the first expedition to the Q'ero in 1955. They are the descendents of the Incas and hold the spiritual traditions of the Incas.)

I traveled to Cusco in 2005 to take the Mosoq Karpay (New Life Initiation) from Don Nazario (now deceased), one of Peru's most famous healers, and Don Agustin Pauqar, a Q'ero.

In 2009, I closed down my life in Brookline, Ma., applied for and received my carne de extranjeria and moved to Santa Monica, Wanchaq at the end of May 2009.

I am a Reiki Master/Teacher and a sound healer. My career focus was administrative work in hospitals in Boston, MA. and the Boston area. During my last position, I also gave Reiki to employees and patients, as well as participated in the elective complimentary medicine program for residents in General Medicine. For several years, I had a private office where I taught Reiki and gave Reiki sessions. Since my arrival in Santa Monica, I have been writing a monthly newsletter about life in Cusco, which I e-mail to friends around the world. In addition, published three travel articles and one feature article by me."