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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Daily Prompt: Doppelgänger Alert

28. Oktober 2014 at 02:47 (Posts in English) (, , , , , , , , )

You step into an acquaintance’s house for the first time, and discover that everything — from the furniture, to the books, to the art on the wall — is identical to your home. What happens next?

Another Daily Prompt: Doppelgänger Alert

You can check out the other Daily Prompts I’ve written here:

Daily Prompt: If You Leave
Daily Prompt: The Heat Is On
Daily Prompt: Now You See Me

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“So, where did you get all of this stuff?“, I asked while eyeing her furniture which looked suspiciously familiar.
“Oh, I don’t know… It has all piled up over the years, I guess…”, she answered, smiling at me self-consciously. “Do you think it’s tacky?”
“No, no – not at all. Actually, I really like your style”, I tried to fake a reassuring grin, while panic clawed at my insides with icy fingers. “Suzie, would you excuse me for a moment?”
I turned and quickly climbed the stairs. Only then did I realise that I hadn’t even waited for her to give me the directions to the bathroom. I instantly knew where it was.

I closed the toilet lid and sat down on the cold, white plastic. I bent over to rest my head on my knees, trying to catch my breath. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw today’s paper lying on the bluish tiles. The page with the crossword puzzle was on top, half of the words filled in. I took a closer look – exactly the same spaces where left empty as in my own paper. I spent a minute trying to figure out at least one other clue, so I could fill it in – and make a small difference in our seemingly identical lives. But my mind was oddly and utterly blank.

As I sat contemplating whether this was merely a coincidence, I heard a knock on the door. “Are you okay?”, Suzie was asking, only just loud enough for me to be able to make out her words.
I sighed, washed my hands and walked shakily to the door. I felt like I was carrying a heavy weight on my shoulders. “I’m sorry, I thought I was going to be sick – but it’s okay now, don’t worry”, I lied.
“Do you want a cup of tea?”, she asked me, while we were heading back to the living room.
“Yes please”, I answered automatically, because tea was my favourite drink. “And I’m not really feeling okay”, I suddenly burst out.

“No? What’s wrong?”, she replied.
“Just about everything. Your flat looks exactly like mine, you have the same furniture, the same books, even the art on the walls is the same – I can’t believe this is a coincidence anymore!”, I cried out desperately.
“Well, of course it isn’t. Do you think it was a coincidence that we became acquainted with each other?”, she raised her eyebrows at me and shook her head slowly, as though she couldn’t understand how I could ever have thought otherwise.

“I don’t understand…”, I whispered.
“I’m not trying to steal your identity, if that’s what you’re thinking”, she replied. “I already am you. A better, improved version of yourself, if you will. I invited you to my home today, because it’s time that I replace you once and for all”, she explained. “I’m not going to kill you”, she said in reaction to my violent trembling and the horrified look in my eyes. “You will do it yourself, when you realise that I can live your life better than you ever could.”

The seconds in which I processed her words seemed to be stretching to infinity. I felt all the power slowly drain from my muscles. I only felt gratitude to my body as my mind went blank for the second time this day and I sagged to the floor.

It was my mum who helped me up. I didn’t know how much time had passed between the encounter with my alter ego and mum finding me on the kitchen floor. “You forgot to take your medication again, honey”, she whispered softly, while she half walked, half carried me over to the couch. “I don’t know, if we can go on like this much longer, Suzie…”, she sighed and kissed me on the forehead before she went to the bathroom to get me my pills.

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Daily Prompt: If You Leave

13. März 2014 at 01:23 (Blog, Posts in English) (, , , , , )

“Life is a series of beginnings and endings. We leave one job to start another; we quit cities, countries, or continents for a fresh start; we leave lovers and begin new relationships. What was the last thing you contemplated leaving? What were the pros and cons? Have you made up your mind? What will you choose?
Photographers, artists, poets: show us CROSSROADS.”

Again, I couldn’t resist the daily prompt 😉 http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/daily-prompt-if-you-leave/

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If you leave I won’t cry
I won’t waste a single day
But if you leave don’t look back
I’ll be running the other way…

Those are some of the lines of a song called “If You Leave”, originally performed by “The Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark”. These lines are the soundtrack to my running away. I’ve loved this song since I’ve first heard it. It was in a dark cellar, lit up with candles and some disco lights, filled with hot air, dancing and the smells of beer and cigarettes… It was a grand night for a young fellow like me, who had only been to a few parties which had always ended much too early and without the kiss of my current heartthrob. But this time, I would stay till the end, till Sammy’s mom would come downstairs in her pyjamas and would ask “who’d like some coffee?” like there was nothing wrong with partying the whole night long.

Sammy’s mom was one of the coolest moms in town, if not in the whole world. She was divorced, but still got along quite well with Sammy’s dad. She had those crazy curls that used to curl away from her skull in every possible direction. Sometimes she used to joke that in her last life she had been Medusa and her curls had been snakes. She really liked to joke around with us young people, she was never judgmental and never ever did she tell us to go to bed or to keep the music down. Sammy’s mom died two days ago – I considered going to the funeral. It’d be good to see Sammy again, after all those years. But home is an awful lot of kilometres away from where I am now. And let’s be honest: I guess nobody would like to see me again after all, it’s been too long.

Yeah, right, it wasn’t my fault what happened in the course of that evening. I was young, I was drunk and a little crazy. I guess Sammy’s mom understood me, because she got teenagers really well. She understood that I couldn’t watch while old Ryan here came awfully close to taking away my girl. I mean, she didn’t know that she was mine – but then she knew. Violence is a bad way to show your feelings. I know it now, but sadly I didn’t know it when I was sixteen and drunk. Let’s put it like this: Old Ryan may have lost a tooth and cracked a rib, but well, I guess that’s not as bad as crushing all the knuckles of your right hand, like I did. I couldn’t write for two months and there were exams coming up, so that wasn’t a piece of cake either. Well and for Jeannie… She never spoke to me again, she just shot me icy glances across the room.

But Sammy’s mom was cool. She took me aside and didn’t say one word of reproval. She was all like “love’s tough” and “don’t drink and strike”, but without the motherly tone. Coolest mom ever. Unfortunately, my parents weren’t as cool about it, but that’s another story.

However, the song was one of the few things I’d be glad to remember of that evening. And these four lines described exactly how I’d leave each and every of the girls that were to be mine in the course of the next years. I liked to be cool about break-ups. After getting involved too much the evening I hit Ryan, I toned my feelings down a notch. I didn’t get emotional anymore. In every relationship, after some months, I started to feel crushed. Not quickly and painfully crushed like my knuckles had been when they had met Ryan’s face and chest. No, it was the slowest process of crushing I had ever experienced. My soul was chucked into a vice that slowly, oh so slowly, got tighter and tighter. I couldn’t move and I couldn’t breathe and worst of all – I couldn’t think clearly. The only thought that occupied my mind was “leave… leave before you lose your heart”. And so I did. But leaving felt no better than being left behind, I couldn’t cry and I kept running, running until I felt safe and lonely once more.

And then I met Sammy’s mom again. She didn’t look well – I hardly recognised the woman who was so in love with life despite all the bad things that had happened to her what with her husband cheating on her and Sammy not being the easiest of kids to raise. I kissed her on the cheek that felt like parchment and not like the rosy skin she had had before. Her eyes were tired and instead of her curly hair she wore a flowery headscarf. “The doctors here are the best”, she told me, “but it’s hopeless. I knew it from the start, but I promised my loved ones that I would keep trying, keep going on. It’s hard, the chemo’s sucking up all of my energy… But you can’t run away from the challenges life bears for you. Do you understand? Make mistakes, say stupid things and hurt people you love… But just don’t run away without apologising.” She made me put two fingers together and hold them up like I was Jesus Christ, blessing some bread and wine and say “I swear”.

I don’t know how she did it, but she always found the right thing to say at exactly the moment I needed to hear it. I wish I could have said something that changed her life as much as she changed mine – at last, my running song is just reserved for Sunday morning workout and not for leaving my girlfriends.

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Daily Prompt: The Heat is On

10. März 2014 at 20:07 (Blog, Posts in English) (, )

Do you thrive under pressure or crumble at the thought of it? Does your best stuff surface as the deadline approaches or do you need to iterate, day after day to achieve something you’re proud of? Tell us how you work best.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us PRESSURE.”

That’s the challenge of today’s “Daily Prompt”: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/daily-prompt-heat/. I’ve already written a story inspired by a Daily Prompt once (https://loveanddeathandeverythinginbetween.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/daily-prompt-now-you-see-me/) – so let’s try another one.

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The deadline has become a dead end for me. There is no way I can avoid failing – the clock ticks off the seconds as I am slowly despairing. The task I have been given is too hard for me. Living up to everybody’s expectations is not only painful, but it’s starting to take its toll. My hands are shaking, my mind is racing and my heart is thumping too fast. Panic wells up inside me, the panic I have tried to conceal for so long is starting to gush out of the constraints my mind has tried to build up around it. After all this time, it feels the same. It is a sensation of simultaneously falling and having already hit the ground. Fear and pain combined in a way that only exists in nightmares. You wake up screaming or crying, with your heart racing and so much fear inside you – but then you start to breathe again, to think again and to know that it has only been a bad dream.

But this is not a dream. It’s the sad reality that has hit the dreamer after years and years of too little consideration. I thought it would all work out in the end. But in half an hour’s time, the alarm will go off and I will get up and I will leave everything behind that I know and love. My beautiful wife, my beautiful baby, my beautiful home. I can only hope that someday, they will understand that I left to protect them. That my time is up – I’ve had my share of luck and now it’s time to go.

I made a deal with the devil, you know. And now he comes to deliver my one-way ticket to hell. I never wanted to borrow any money to build this life I have been living. But as the devilish bank accountant told me, I would have years and years to pay him back, I believed him. I believed that in ten years’ time everything would be better. That I would be able to stay for more than two months in the same job without being crushed by the responsibility and panicking. That I would be able to make my wife and daughter happy. That I would be able to lead the life I had always wanted to lead.

Today, the police will come and arrest me, because I never paid anything back. I didn’t pay the money back and most certainly did I not pay off the emotional debts I have piled up on the backs of my family. But if I go now, they will be happier than I can ever make them, if I go to jail. They won’t feel the obligation to come and visit me. They won’t have to see my face ever again. They will be able to hate me, because I was a coward who ran away.

They will lose everything, but they will not lose hope. My beautiful wife will find another man, who brushes away her tears. And my beautiful daughter will grow up to become an astute young woman who will never hook up with such an idiot as her father has been. I’m doing them a favour, it’s the first and last favour I have ever been granting them.

I kiss my sleeping beauties good-bye as I leave to pay my bills the only way I can.

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Daily Prompt: Now You See Me

4. Dezember 2013 at 15:35 (Blog, Posts in English) (, )

And now for something off-topic and non-christmassy: Today, I stumbled upon this post http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/prompt-see-me/ – and although today there would have been a new challenge, I wanted to try out this one first. (I don’t usually write in English, so please pardon any mistakes I might make.)

So, if anybody happens to read this blog post, isn’t able to read German fluently, but wants to read more of my works: I write my love poems in English, you find them here.

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I’ve been there, watching over you, for all of my life. It is only now that I am old and confused and haggard that you finally see me. You don’t see me in the way I wish you would: As a model for living your life consciously, embracing every moment of it and giving love to those who need it most.

No, you only see what is left behind of my once glamorous existence. You see a woman who hardly recognises her family, who spills food all over herself while eating and who walks so slowly that even a snail might reach its destination faster. You see me as the woman who once cared for you, which was okay, because I wanted to have you and I planned my life around you. But now you have to care for me, which is not okay, because you had planned your life differently, you have your own family now, your own children to raise.

You don’t see me as the loving mother I once was, you see me as your daily nuisance. It is so hard to explain things to me over and over again, only to have me ask the same question one minute later. It isn’t only painful for you to see me age and slowly vanish into a world that holds the promise that I won’t be bothering anybody there.

I wish you could enjoy it more to take care of me, because it will be the last thing you’ll do for me. It’s a job with an expiry date, there will come a day when all of this ends. Your stressed out way of handling me doesn’t bother me that much, you know. I know that you’re constantly in a hurry, you have to get so many things done every day. But I wish you would try to get some satisfaction out of caring for me – the feeling that you’re doing something good, something meaningful, something you will be rewarded for in another life.

But no, you’re too young and I’m too old to teach you anything. You will only see what I would like to tell you, if my mind wasn’t so wrecked, when you are old yourself. You might not know, because I never told you, but I have given up a lot of things for you too. My career, lots of friendships and in the end even my nice apartment. But I didn’t care, because you are my son and although it isn’t my job to make you happy or give up everything for you, I gladly did it.

I just hope these memories will come back, when all of this is over. Perhaps you will tell your children and grandchildren about me – not the woman you see now, but the woman I was then.

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