The Dog and the Boy

8. Oktober 2019 at 18:34 (flash fiction, Posts in English) (, , , , , )

The dog had seen it all. Sticks. And chains. And guns. And sticks again. He had felt them too.

The boy had seen it all. Beatings. And tears. And scars. And beatings again. He had felt them too.

When the dog saw the boy, he could have seen a cruel creature, standing on two legs, ready to strike.

When the boy saw the dog, he could have seen a cruel creature, standing on four legs, ready to strike.

But neither of them did.
They saw another lost being. Another lost soul.

And so the dog and the boy became friends. And they weren’t beaten and they weren’t chained anymore. Because now they were two and two are stronger than one.

Permalink Kommentar verfassen

Chestnut Girl

28. April 2019 at 18:49 (flash fiction, Posts in English)

In March, I attended one of Vienna Storytelling Collective’s open mic nights. The host encouraged us to produce some microfiction (50 words max.) or „a story in a tweet“ on the theme of „When I was young“. And of course I couldn’t resist to share a memory… (I was too young to remember, but my mum told the story to me a few times and well, it sounds very much like me 😉 )

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As a child, I once lost a chestnut in a bus accident. The one who had the accident was the chestnut, not me.
Still, I cried. But the man next to me didn’t understand my sorrow.
I guess he had never lost a beautiful chestnut before.

Permalink Kommentar verfassen

A prize-winning story

22. April 2019 at 18:35 (flash fiction, Posts in English) (, , , , , , )

Last Monday, I got an e-mail with some very exciting news: For the first time ever, one of my stories had won a prize! Throughout my writing career, I have taken part in many competitions, with the unwavering hope of being picked and a judge falling in love with my story… And now my dream has finally come true, in Write NOW’s monthly Postcard Story Contest, as you can read here.

And here’s the story:

Metamorphosis

The last strand of blond hair fell to the ground. Hannah dragged Emma’s chair around, huffing. She lifted the blindfold.

“How d’you like it, Em?” Hannah’s voice quavered as she met Emma’s gaze in the mirror which also reflected the faces of the onlookers at the back of the room. The girls started to snicker as Emma combed the remnants of her hair with her fingers in disbelief, blinking the tears away.

“I thought you were my friend,” she hissed, getting up to face Hannah. She was almost a foot taller than her hairdresser.

“Relax, Em, it’s just a game.” Hannah held up her hands in defence. “They’ll grow back,” she said and looked at the audience for reassurance. They stayed mute, but their grins spoke volumes.

“Just a game, yes?” Emma grabbed the scissors. “Well, then it’s my turn to play now.”

Hannah shrieked when Emma’s hands closed around her ponytail and the taller girl pushed her up against the mirror. Emma yanked Hannah’s head to the side. Pinning it against the cold glass with one hand, she cut the hair right beneath the pink ribbon with the other. Hannah wailed.

It was only when Emma felt the softness of the brown locks gliding through her fingers that she realised she was no better than her own bullies now.

Permalink Kommentar verfassen

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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“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.”

Permalink 2 Kommentare

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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“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.

Permalink Kommentar verfassen

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:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

Permalink 1 Kommentar

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.

Permalink Kommentar verfassen

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.

~*~*~*~

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.

Permalink 3 Kommentare

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.

Permalink Kommentar verfassen

Flight

31. August 2015 at 10:10 (Posts in English) (, , , , , , , , , )

This is the third and final part of a story I started to write in May. Here you can find the first part (Bird of passage) and the second part (Dog days).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She leaned against the door frame, while the dog capered happily around her, trying to get her attention. But she couldn’t avert her eyes from the scene unfolding in front of her, without the two main characters noticing the silent (and the not-so-silent) spectator.
“Well done, little lady!” he exclaimed, patting her back comfortingly.
The baby burped again and grinned proudly at the white wall behind her new daddy’s back. Lily was fascinated by the many things she could already achieve in such an expert manner despite her young age.
“Is it time to change your nappy again, madam?” he let the baby girl hang over his shoulder and sniffed her diaper in a theatrical manner. The baby chuckled with glee. “Oh yeah, it’s definitely time!” He contorted his face so she would laugh again and held her as far away from his nose as he could. “Attention, stinky baby is being transported to the bathroom!”

It was only then that he noticed Lily waiting forlornly in the hallway. “Hi Lily, we didn’t see you standing there… Want to say hi to your mummy, little ladybird?” He held Elena close for a moment before passing her on to her mother.
She took her daughter into her arms and held her gingerly, her pulse racing. Would the baby start crying again? She felt guilt welling up inside of her. She had missed out on five whole days of feeding, playing, bathing, changing diapers and reading bedtime stories. This, instead, belonged to Jonathan’s daily routine for seven months now.

Lily only got to see her at the weekends. Lo and behold, she had taken up a job. She had found out that she was capable of typing at a fairly decent speed and orthographically quite correctly while she had been pregnant and so she had found a job as the secretary of a doctor. He would always speak the diagnoses on tape and she would type them into his computer in the evenings. The only problem was that she – what with the hormonal rollercoaster and all – had fallen in love with him. And so much so that she just didn’t have the guts to tell him that she had kept the baby. She used her parents, with whom she didn’t talk anymore, as a pretext to leave his fatherly care and good will for the weekends, when she went to pay Elena a visit.

She was clumsy in handling her and every time Jonathan tried to give her advice on how to hold the baby bottle so Elena didn’t suffocate or on how to change her clothes without ripping off Elena’s pinky, she shouted at him. And then her daughter started crying and she didn’t know how to make it stop and she would have to admit to herself that she hadn’t succeeded in being a good mother.

She had thought that giving birth to a creature that had inhabited her body for eight and a half months, patting her organs from inside and hearing her heartbeat louder than anyone else, would establish a special bond between the two of them that would last forever. And now it hurt to see Jonathan as the father in sparkling armour, not only fulfilling his duties, but raising Elena with so much love and enthusiasm that she couldn’t but envy him.

Of course, she would rack her brain for excuses as to why she hadn’t been able to fix the magical bond that had been cut through the day Elena was born. She blamed her parents and the doctor, Jonathan and the dog, but in the end, she only cried herself to sleep beside the blissfully snoring doctor, without knowing what to change to make herself feel better.

She couldn’t leave the doctor, he was really the first man for whom she fostered genuine feelings and he had taken her in at a moment of need, pregnant and desperate, without asking her questions. And she couldn’t really be angry at Jonathan, because he was the best father for Elena she could wish for. But all the same, it was heart-breaking to see that her baby was turning into such an excellent little lady without her help. The only thing that could appease her feelings was the knowledge that without the money she sent Jonathan at the end of each month, they wouldn’t be able to survive.

When Elena’s wakeful eyes finally closed for the night and a happy dream left its marks across her face, Jonathan cautiously pulled the door to her room shut and sat down beside his sister. She muted the TV and looked at him. Her brain worked hard to decide if she should feel relief that Elena was sleeping soundly now or envy that the little girl – despite not being able to utter a single coherent word – had demanded Jonathan to put her to bed. But that was life. You get some, you lose some. She couldn’t even imagine how it would have felt to give her daughter away for adoption, to people she didn’t know, didn’t trust and perhaps didn’t even want to cross paths with.

The baby monitor sprang to life, the smallest cough crackled through the receiver and before she could realise what the next step Jonathan had taught her to follow in this case was, Jonathan was already up on his feet and in the adjoining room, looking after their baby.

The dog did some stretching on the carpet, laying out his front paws, head close to the ground, bottom up in the air, and made a whimpering noise. When he was done with his gymnastics, he walked over to Lily and put his muzzle on her lap. She stroked and caressed him while he was lovingly watching her out of his big, trusting eyes. At least there was one soul left in the world who would always love her just the way she was.

Permalink Kommentar verfassen

Next page »