BPFFC #03: Dinner Talk

9. Juli 2018 at 21:11 (flash fiction, Posts in English) (, , , , , , )

For March, we drew the word myopic out of our magic pot of words – which proved to be quite the challenge. It doesn’t feature in my story in a literal sense, but the topic should be covered in another sense. And here’s what Sarah did with the word.

Enjoy and stay tuned for April’s attraction!

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“Oh Liddy… What happened this time?“ I opened my arms wide to embrace my daughter.
“I got hit by a ball again,” Liddy mumbled, pressing her head against my neck.
“But we talked about you staying away from where the older kids play, didn’t we?” I peeled the girl away from my body. “Let me take a look. Does that hurt?” Liddy winced as I prodded the bluish bruise lightly. “Oh baby, I’m sorry!”

I fetched a tiny packet of apple juice from the fridge and watched my daughter stick the straw into it and slurp on it, her pigtails wobbling in agreement.
“What else happened at school today, Liddy?” I went back to the kitchen and began to prepare dinner. There was no ham left and only one slice of cheese. I put the cheese into Liddy’s sandwich and drew a zig-zag line with the mayonnaise before putting the second half of the bread on top of it. For myself, it was just going to be a mayonnaise sandwich today.

“Nothing much,” Liddy replied, taking a break from slurping. “Miss Bramley made me sit in the front row.”
“Why’s that? Did you misbehave?” I put the mayonnaise back into the fridge.
“No, but she said I should look at the blackboard and not at Martha’s exercise book when I copy something.” Liddy opened her sandwich and inspected the cheese.

“Well, and why don’t you look at the blackboard?”
“The letters are too smallish. And they go all fuzzy at the edges.” Liddy wrinkled her nose.
I let out a deep sigh. “Oh Liddy, we need to get you glasses…”
“I can sit closer to the blackboard, Mummy.” Liddy ripped the slice of cheese in half and put one of the pieces on my plate. “I know we’re poor.”

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BPFFC #02: One thing to look forward to

13. Mai 2018 at 00:02 (flash fiction, Posts in English) (, , , , , , )

With a little bit (a lot) of delay, here’s my February flash fiction for the Baked Potatoes Flash Fiction Challenge (BPFFC). I actually wrote it in February, I really did 😉 (Unlike the March and April flash fiction, where I sadly didn’t meet the deadline… But they’ll still be published here soon. )
The word for the month of February was fedoraJack already posted his story here in March, because he’s way more organised than I am 😉 And recently, Sarah has published her piece too. Enjoy!

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“I don’t want to do this anymore!” He ripped the fedora off his gel-slicked hair and tossed it onto the floor of the living room.
“Now, now.” His mother stooped to pick up the hat and flicked some invisible specks of dust away. “This is surely no way to thank the Lord for the wonderful opportunity he has given you, is it, George?”
“No, mum. I’m sorry, mum.” He bowed his head a little so she could place the fedora on it.
“There, there. That’s my boy.” She patted his cheek and used her plump body to manoeuvre her son out into the hallway. “Now off you go. And don’t forget to tell Reverend Marshall that we’d be glad to have him over for dinner this Sunday!”
“Yes, mum.” He stepped away from his mother’s ample bosom and opened the door to step out into the bright winter day.
“Oh, wait a second!” His mother fumbled in her purse and grinned as she threw some coins into the metal box in her son’s hands. “They’ll be more generous when they see that their brothers and sisters have already contributed. We’ll soon have that new bell tower erected, with the help of you and your friends and our Holy Father.”
The coins rattled as George trembled. It was so cold and he’d rather be anywhere else than fulfilling his God-given duties. But at least, there was one thing to look forward to.
Warming up his hands in the hands of his best friend Jim and letting him breathe warm air onto his frozen fingertips before counting the coins.

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Taking stock

29. April 2018 at 23:22 (Blog) (, , , , )

Starting with the 1st of May, I won’t be enrolled as a student at the University of Vienna anymore. I haven’t been actively studying for the past two years, but I still had a valid student ID – at first, I continued to use the library services, but during the last year, I didn’t need them anymore. So in March I decided to stop paying the small fee I had been paying out of nostalgia and to let bygones be bygones.

Today, I downloaded all of my documents before my account is shut down for real. Scrolling through the list of passed seminars and exams, I realised how much I have achieved in those 8 years I was enrolled at the university:

  • I completed two bachelor degree courses with 180 ECTS each and one master degree course with 120 ECTS. 1 ECTS equals 25 hours of work. So that was 12,000 hours of work.
  • On top of that, I worked at a radio station for four years, 12 hours a week times 47 (without the 5 weeks of paid vacation), equalling 2,256 hours of work.
  • Another 1,058 hours of work accumulated during the 2.5 years I worked at a press agency during my studies.
  • And as a freelance journalist, I wrote 42 texts, amounting to about 8 hours of work each, totalling 336 hours.

All in all, that’s 15,650 hours of work over the course of 8 years. 1,956.25 hours of work per year. 37.62 hours of work per week. I always knew that I had accomplished quite a lot during those 8 years, but I never worked full time and I always knew that there were other people who worked more or finished their studies faster than I did.

But taking stock now, I realise that I really almost did work full time during those 8 years – and managed to squeeze in some other writing too; I don’t even know how many hours I spent writing and revising my novel and all of these short stories that are collected on my blog. And of course, I had a social life too, friends and family and sports… 😉

So that’s something to be proud of at the end of my life as a student at the University of Vienna 🙂

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BPFFC #01: Taking back what’s mine

25. Februar 2018 at 16:40 (flash fiction, Posts in English) (, , , , , , )

As this blog (and the lack of new posts on it) demonstrates, writing regularly is hard. Things that make it less hard?

  1. Having a group of wonderful people who write and read and critique the texts with you (famously known as The Baked Potatoes).
  2. Having challenges and deadlines.

So we, The Baked Potatoes, set out to do the latter and created a challenge I like to call the BPFFC (Baked Potatoes Flash Fiction Challenge). Every month we pick a word/topic and write a story about it of a maximum of 300 words, with the last day of the month as our deadline. Our topic for January was jealousyyou can find Jack’s story about jealousy on his blog, here’s Sarah’s flash fiction and here’s mine:

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I lit a match. The small flame licked at the darkness.
„Don’t you think that’s kind of a drastic move?“ he asked.
I shrugged my shoulders. „Don’t you think his move was kind of drastic?“
I held the flame up to my cigarette and inhaled that first glorious waft of nicotine.
„He’s a dick and you knew that up front. I warned you.“ He motioned me to hand him the cigarette and took a deep drag himself.
„Great. So it’s my own fault now.“
I didn’t say that. But well, now that you said it… I just think that you shouldn’t show him how much you care. Just let it go and get your own thing going instead…“
I lit another match and held it up right in front of his eyes while he went on smoking my cigarette. „He shall burn like this. He deserves it.“
„Fiiine. But let’s get you a lawyer first. You can’t just take it from him because he betrayed you.“
I blew out the flame. “I think I can. It was my idea after all.”
“Yeah, but it was his money. And that also shows, kind of.” When he turned to face the shop window, I wrested my cigarette from his mouth. I needed it more than he did.
Then I gazed up at the sign in front of what was soon to be my shop. I should never have let him pick the name.
Pete’s Pet Parlour.
He knew I had a thing for alliterations.
And Pete apparently took pleasure in partying with prostitutes.
What a wanker.

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Stay tuned for February’s flash fiction featuring the word fedora!

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Goodbye, Meidling

22. Oktober 2017 at 17:24 (Blog) (, , , , , , , , )

This is not a short story. Actually, it’s the ending of quite a long story – a love story, of course. After more than four years, I have left the 12th district of Vienna, Meidling, for good. It was the first district of Vienna where I really felt at home. Sure, I enjoyed living at the students‘ hall for nearly five years, too – but it was always clear that this was only an in-between solution, a temporary home to my temporary life as a student.

Meidling was where the concept of eternity felt closer to me than ever. And Meidling was where I had to realise that sometimes, forever is not the best option – even if it feels tempting to choose what you know and love over what you don’t know and are slightly afraid of. But if happiness has forgotten your address, you have to go and look for it yourself.

I’m not going to be far away from my beloved Meidling and it will always stay close to my heart. But still, I’ve crossed a border, entered a new territory, a new life. Leaving Meidling constitutes the end of an era for me.

In the last few weeks, I’ve often stopped to take a picture – because beautiful moments pass so quickly and I want to appreciate them before they fade away. Life is beautiful after all, wherever it may lead you and whatever obstacles you have to overcome. Here’s a little photo story of what Meidling looked like to me. And it’s my goodbye to this beautiful district – goodbye, Meidling!

 

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Beauty Sleep Mode

17. Juli 2017 at 00:36 (Blog)

Yes, the blog has been asleep for a long time now. And it will probably take some more time to really wake up again. But the good news is:

There’s one page on this blog which has been receiving some writerly attention. After a pause of four (!) years, I’ve written five new (love) poems in the past few months. You’ll have to see for yourself, but I think they’re getting a liiittle bit better concerning the rhythm (I literally have no idea what I’m doing here and some of the poems are also really songs in my head, but what the hell). Here’s where you can find them:

Thoughts on Love (Love Poems)

A short explanation to why the blog is sleeping

As you might know, I wrote a book. A whole book. The first round of editing mentioned here took me quite a while (who knew that editing was so much less fun than writing itself?). But at least it made the story balloon to a respectable length of over 50,000 words. I’m trying to enter a few novel competitions this year and also a few flash fiction ones. No luck so far, but at least I feel like I’m doing something to push my book and personal boundaries. When the last (unsuccessful?) judging phases are over, the flash fiction will feature on the blog as well.

Also, I’ve lately started my first job as a full-time journalist (yay!), so I’m writing a lot more than before, which is great, but makes me not want to write a lot in my free time as well (or start editing round two, ugh). But once I’m accustomed to this new lifestyle, I hopefully will find some fiction writing energy too 🙂

Cheers for dropping by,

MT

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Inter-sect-ion

31. Dezember 2016 at 14:08 (Posts in English) (, , , , , , )

When it all came down to putting a price on my belongings, I realised there was incredibly little of real value – value others could see and appreciate – in the things that were important to me.

What would anyone do with the chipped heart-shaped stone that my friend Veronica gave me when my boyfriend of seven years broke up with me?

Or the lamp which hadn’t been illuminated with a light bulb for ages, because Michael was the only one to know where to get these special bulbs?

Or my dearest book, which had fallen into the bathtub when I had been soaking in the warm water after a far too long day? It was dry now, but creased and crinkled as the skin on my toes had been when I got out of that bath.

„You could at least take some of the things with you, you know?“ My mum said. „I don’t need all this space anyway.“

„Yes,“ I replied, „but that’s not the point. The less I leave behind, the easier it will be for you to move on.“

These talks were, of course, not true. But I knew that leaving random stuff behind – stuff my family would investigate, ask friends about and find out the meaning they had for me – would make it infinitely harder for them to forget me. And taking anything else but money, my clothes, laptop and some of my jewellery with me would be outright stupid.

I would not need anything of Earthly value anymore. I would get so much more in return, if I could scrape the money for the journey together.

I scribbled numbers of varying values on little scraps of paper and pinned them to furniture, books, stacks of dishes and kitchen machinery.

They would wait for me with open arms and care for me in a way my family never could.
They would provide everything I was missing now.
Marriage.
A husband.
A religion.

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Marlene and the Whale

28. Oktober 2016 at 23:59 (Posts in English) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

As promised, here is a little story revolving around the protagonists of „The River of Recollection“ when they were still very young.

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When my sister Marlene was around six years old, she started telling me fantastic stories every night. Most of them had a more or less true core. . One day, there was a big commotion in our school, because a whale had washed up on the shore nearby. All of the kids ran to the beach after school and Marlene begged me to go see the whale with her, too. So we went down to the beach, where the members of a non-profit organisation tried to push the gigantic creature back into the sea. News reporters had gathered around, snapping pictures of the scene. We watched for about an hour before I dragged Marlene off – we shouldn’t strain our mother’s nerves too much.
That night, when Marlene snuggled up to me, she told me a story that went something like this (edited for grammar mistakes Marlene made at that age):

Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Marlene. One evening, she skipped along the beach until she saw something big and grey. It was a giant whale. Marlene inched closer. Suddenly, the animal looked at her and said,
“Can you please help me, little girl?” with a weak, but resonating voice.
“Yes, of course, how can I help you?” Marlene asked.
“Can you please push me back into the sea? My skin is getting really dry and I long to go back to my friends and play with them.”
So Marlene started to push and push. She pressed her palms against the whale’s face, digging her little feet into the sand and leaning in with all her weight. But the whale didn’t budge. So she ran to his side and pulled and pulled at his left fin. But still, he didn’t move.
The little girl started crying and confessed to the whale that she didn’t have any friends she could ask for help. The kind whale rested his eyes on her and said,
“We could ask my friends. But I’m afraid my voice isn’t loud enough.” The whale sighed a deep sigh.
But then, Marlene had an idea. There were no lifeguards around now, because it was getting really late, but she knew that they kept a megaphone in their little hut at the beach. They used it to shout encouraging words at people struggling against the high waves until help arrived.
It took all of the strength the tiny human had left to push against the wooden door of the hut and soon enough it caved in. She found the megaphone and ran back to the whale.
“You can ask your friends for help now,” she said gleefully, switched the megaphone on and held it up to the whale’s mouth.
The whale made a noise that was a mixture of a sigh and a groan, swelling in volume up to a high-pitched tone, then ebbing away again. He winked at the girl and she put the megaphone down in the sand and they waited. In the houses at the far end of the beach, the lights went on because of the loud and unusual voice booming across the land and the sea.
A minute later, the water around the whale’s tail fin began to bubble and churn with movement. Marlene could see three big mouths gently tugging at the whale’s tail fin. And slowly, his body was set in motion and the sand crunched under his big body, receding into the sea.
“My whale, my whale, I don’t want to lose you,” the girl cried and ran alongside the whale who was slowly being swallowed by the dark waters. She followed him until she was knee-deep in the sea and then, finally, the whale wrapped his slick fin around her and put her onto his glistening back.
“Hold on tight, little girl, for I will show you the wonders of the deep, deep sea,” the whale said and Marlene hugged her arms tightly around the giant animal, just as the waves crashed over her head.

The next morning, our dad left the local newspaper lying open at the breakfast table. It said that around seven o’clock in the evening, they had succeeded in pushing the whale back into the sea. And there was a picture of the kids from school saying hello to the whale. One of the tiny black and white faces was clearly Marlene’s.
“Look, you’re in the newspaper,” I said, pointing at the image.
“Because I saved the whale?” Marlene asked, concentrating on her bowl of cereal.
“No, silly, the rescue workers saved the whale,” I groaned.
“I did. I know it,” my sister pouted. “I saved the whale.”
“Sure you did,” I said, sighing a deep whale sigh.

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Gigi’s Gone

31. August 2016 at 16:37 (Posts in English) (, , , , , , , , , )

We had already said our goodbyes. Around twenty times by now. The parents were getting impatient.
“It will be like a vacation for you, okay? Only a little longer,” I said. Gigi’s eyes brimmed with tears. I bit on my lip. I just couldn’t tell her the truth.
“Okay.” She nodded and her two ponytails bobbed up and down accordingly.
“Wendy will wait for you here,” her mother said, softly tugging at the doll in Gigi’s hand. When Gigi let go, her mother put the doll in my arms instead. “There are plenty of new toys waiting for you at home,” she added.
Gigi looked at her and then at me. She didn’t understand. How could that woman talk about “home” when she meant a place Gigi had never seen before?
I smiled encouragingly. “Yes, Wendy will wait here with me,” I said, hugging the doll tightly to my chest.
The door opened, the door closed, an engine howled and Gigi was gone.

It has happened before, countless times. And without any doubt it will happen again, to mothers and fathers to whom life has not given kids, but only lent them.
In a deep, dark corner of my mind, I had known that this fate could come my way, too. That I could lose her one day. But whenever that thought popped up in my mind, I pushed it back down, letting it drown in a sea of predominantly happy thoughts. I would concentrate on her instead, watching her play and sing and grow up.

She had loved to run to the birdhouse on the lawn behind our house first thing in the morning. She would wave her little arms around and cry “Good morning, birdies!” and watch delightedly as the damsels and robins flew away as fast as their wings could take them, trilling and chatting. Then Gigi would wait very calmly as they hesitantly landed on the patio of their tiny house again, picking at the seeds while scanning the scenery for mischievous human beings. My little girl watched them for minutes at a time and I watched her through the kitchen window as I prepared her breakfast.

Now I’m preparing breakfast for only one person. Two slices of toast, butter, some strawberry jam and a cup of coffee. But I can’t eat. And the strong coffee I have prepared for myself makes my heart beat so fast that I’m certain I’m going to die this morning.
I have propped up Gigi’s doll Wendy and her two favourite stuffed animals, Walter Wolf and Freddy Fox, on the three empty chairs around me. They are not very good at filling the infinite blank Gigi has left behind. But it will be our last time sitting here together; before night falls, I will have stacked everything belonging to or made by Gigi neatly into boxes, not to be opened in the near future.

I have been ill-prepared for the fact that Gigi could be taken away from me. I will compensate that in being extremely careful to not be constantly reminded that I have lost her. And the life I had planned for us. I must not walk into the dark trap whose name is sadness. It has opened its ugly arms to pull me into a tight embrace, but I will not let it harm me. Again.
I will go on living a life – not my life, because my life was dedicated to being Gigi’s mother – and I will wait. And one day, I will be happy again. Even if I have to wait until Gigi comes to see me when she is a grown woman and can make her own choices.

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Writing: done. Editing: in progress.

25. Juli 2016 at 23:10 (Blog) (, , , , , , , , )

It is done. I have completed the last chapter of my first novel written in English today. So please let me introduce to you:

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The River of Recollection

Two women – sisters/strangers – invite the reader to join them on their journey between sanity and insanity, truth and lie. In the course of five days, they revisit their real and imagined memories, they lose loved ones and find new friends. They try to flee from reality until their past finally catches up with them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Now the hardest part starts for me: the editing of my eleven chapters plus epilogue. I’ve received tons of great feedback from The Baked Potatoes which I will include into my work in the next few weeks. Subsequently, I’ll try to find a publisher or if that is too hard an agent or if that is still too hard at least an editor who helps me to refine my writing so the agents and publishers will give my manuscript a fair chance 😉

Wish me luck and if you have any tips or recommendations on how to get published, fire away in the comments. Cheers! 🙂

PS: The short story mentioned in the last blog post will have to wait for a few more days…

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