Donnerstag, 31. Dezember 2009

Happy New Year!!!

[Yes, I ahve cheated, the younger story is actually posted beneath "Dishes". Both are fun, I hope, each in its own way. I will try to finish my big WIP, as I was determined to do in 2009, with just a few hours left - and only one of them for writing, after that I will be away from the technical stuff for a few days. I hope you guys and girls have a great time sliding from 2009 to 2010, and I hope that the next year will have many interesting events and stories for each and everyone.]

Mittwoch, 30. Dezember 2009

Dishes

Time to do the dishes. The kids have gone to school, and the carpets have been cleaned, and the cats are outside catching birds or dragonflies or something. Considering that it is early December, it is a very friendly day. Outside on the icy pavement, the sunlight is dancing, and as long as the wind holds his breath, it is almost warm.

Gods, what I'd give to get in the car and drive somewhere else. Especially on days like this. Just start the engine, feel the wind - in my dreams I am driving a cabrio, of course - and not stop until I'm running out of gas. Who knows where I might wind up? I could go to Paris, or to Prague. Christmas in London, or New Year's Eve in Budapest. Sounds lovely to me. I wouldn't pack too much - whatever you need you can get on the road. Even the toothbrush. All I would have to take would be some cash. The mobile phone would stay at home, and no one would find me unless I call them.

Sounds lovely.

And if I ran out of cash? Who knows. I could get a job, something small, on a day-to-day basis. Maybe I could take up painting again and sell portraits of tourists. Or beg in the streets? No, I'd rather be a pickpocket. Can't be that hard, can it? Or take up the oldest of professions. I'm not too plain or old to do this. And who knows, I might even enjoy the experience. Night life in a big city, always in the gray area of society... I wonder what kind of people you meet there... and what the lights look like in a life like that...

But there are the kids again, and lunch hasn't been prepared! Where were I with my thoughts? Stupid, stupid, stupid. Randy needs new shoes, and Vanessa has a piano lesson later in the neighbour village...

Well, tomorrow is another day.

Summoning evil

Kevin was sure he had done everything right. He had watched his parents carefully, hidden inside the old closet in the basement where no one ever put their things. The probably thought that he was asleep when they put on their long black robes and lit this funny stuff which smelled strange when burning. He later took a little bit from the tupperware where his mother stored it, and the label read "olibanum".

There had been other persons besides his parents. He knew some of them - the old couple living next door, the postman and even his teacher, Miss Summers. What a surprise! Through a knothole in the wooden doors he had watched everything carefully. Lighting torches, drawing the circle, chanting funny words that made no sense to him. Then Miss Summers had taken off her robe and there had been a bit of confusion, lots of smoke and a strange smell, like last summer when Dad set the lawnmower on fire. He had seen strange shapes moving, Miss Summers in the middle, moaning while the others kept chanting, surrounding what seemed like a strange dance. At some point Kevin had fallen asleep, so he did not exactly remember what came at the end, but he figured he would know what to do once he was there.

The big day had finally come when his parents went to the Museum of Modern Art - in every day life of course they did not wear black robes and act funny, they simply were his parents, with flowery dresses (Mom) and embarrassing shorts (Dad) and their walks to church on Sundays, where he knew his mother read her magazines instead of listening - and left him at home with his grandmother. Grandma had fallen asleep in front of the TV, as usual, and Kevin had gotten all his stuff and retreated to the garage. It was dusty in here and smelled of gasoline and of the old paint cans Dad kept in here although he never painted anything. He would have at least two hours until his parents came back.

Now, where to begin? Kevin stood for a moment, with a finger in his nose. Ah, the circle! His parents had used white limestone, but Kevin had found a red piece of chalk which was so much prettier! He drew a nearly perfect circle, with the ends meeting exactly (of which he was intensely proud). Of course he had no wooden torches, but through the small windows right beneath the garage's roof honey-colored beams of sunlight came inside and painted the concrete floor.

The incense wouldn't burn. Kevin stared at it, disbelieving. How had his parents done it? There had been something else, he recalled... one of those round little black things, maybe some kind of charcoal? He ran back into the house, climbed upon a kitchen chair and found them right behind the box with "olibanum" on it. How could he have forgotten! He took it, ran back into the garage - Grandma was snoring gently, and he put a blanket over her so she wouldn't get cold - and held the lighter to the charcoal. There were some sparks, and it worked. Soon the smell of incense filled the garage. He would have to remember to open the windows afterwards!

The chanting was easy. Kevin didn't remember all the words, but he figured it was not important what exactly you sang, as long as there was some chanting. He stood outside the circle and let the syllables pour through his mouth. And indeed, there was a tiny whirl of smoke in the middle of the circle...

... growing larger and larger...

... getting darker...

... the smell of burning plastic...

... and a huge figure appeared in front of him, part human, part lizard.

Kevin's heart beat fast. He had done it! Just like the grown-ups! Wow.

"Master, what is your command?"

"What do you mean? Can I tell you to do whatever I want, and you have to do it?"

The demon nodded solemnly.

"Cool!" Kevin thought for a moment. "Go stand on your head!"

The demon hesitated. Obviously this was not really what he had expected. "Wait, human, aren't you a little too young to be doing this? Where are your parents?"

"Out, to the museum. And I said, go stand on your head!"

"Oh, well..." And the demon turned around. He did not make a handstand, like normal people would. Instead, his head seemed to float downward, dragging his feet up to the top at the same time, like a snake curling up around itself.

Kevin's eyes stood open in wonder. "Wow! How did you do this?"

The demon looked at the child with impassive eyes and only the slightest hint of resignation. "Do you have any other commands, Master?"

"Yes!" Kevin smiled. "I want ice cream!"

The demon sighed and rolled his eyes. "I really have to talk to your parents one of these days. Now, what flavor do you want?"

Sonntag, 27. Dezember 2009

White

When they left their flat, the world had disappeared. The houses, the streets, the trees - which had lost their leaves weeks ago, maybe they had known what would happen and given up - everything was gone. All that was left was white and cold.

the others didn't seem to notice it. They made their sounds, which Phillip didn't understand, and they sounded delighted where they should have been frightened or devastated.

He started to scream. In all his life he had not seen anything like this. He stopped dead at the door and did not want to take another step. If the world had disappeared, who knew what would happen to him if he stepped onto the white? But the big ones only laughed, and Mommy took him and put him down again on the white. He expected to fall, but nothing happened. Only his feet turned cold almost instantly. Tears rän down his cheeks, but he stopped screaming. Instead, he watched the white carefully and saw that his feet left tiny marks. Obviously the white was not nothing. But it was scary as hell.

The big ones kept on walking towards a shape in the white that might possibly be the remains of their takes-you-from-one-place-to-another thingie that always made these funny sounds and smelled like burning plastik at the rear end. Phillip took a careful step, then another. His right foot slipped, only for a moment, and he froze in place. This white stuff was dangerous! But the others didn't wait, so finally he overcame his fear and hurried towards them. The big ones stood around the takes-you-from-one-place-to-another thingie shape and were talking in their big one nonsense sounds.

"Don't you think he is a little too young? He is only two years old!"

"Oh, come on! Who knows when we will have snow again? I loved sleigh-riding when I was a kid! Besides, there's this great hill behind grandpa's house..."

The big ones closed the doors, cleaned the white from the thingie and opened the doors. A few minutes later they were on their way. The world was still white and had still disappeared. Phillip fell asleep.

Mittwoch, 23. Dezember 2009

Legs Inc.

Standing in front of the plain glass door, Sally feels insecure. The sign says "Legs Inc.". Lately, she has not had much sleep, and she is afraid her thoughts may be confused. Now, she has this appointment, but maybe she should go home and reconsider... No. She will do this. It is only fair.

A friend handed her the business card right after Paul had left her. "Here, this will help you fell better. He deserves it. And you deserve it." She confirmed having used this special service as well, "and I put it all on his credit card!"

Sally does not know how she feels about all this. Last weekend, she found Paul in bed with his secretary. How pathetic! She was angry, devastated, sad - the whole program. Then she packed her bags and moved in with her younger sister. And now she is here.

Sally is ushered to the office. It is furnished with only a few tasteful pieces - chrome and glass and a little bit of dark, gleaming wood. A surprisingly young woman with dark hair cropped close to her scalp sits behind a large desk and smiles at her politely. "Take a seat, please. Good morning, how may I help you?"

She hesitates. "Well... you see... I got your business card from a friend. She advised me to see you because of - uhm, special circumstances in my relationship..."

"I see." The lady behind the desk waited, politely, the smile not changing.

"Well... I was wondering... see, this business card. It says -"

"If he breaks your heart, we break his legs. I know. It's the slogan of Legs Inc., my mother invented it when she started this business after her divorce. So, what can I do for you? Blackmail, maim, kill?"

And Sally smiles.

**********************************************************

Dedicated to Andrea.

Grandmother's christmas visit

[This story was published in this year's christmas edition of SOFTWHISPERS MAGAZINE. My first published story! Yikes! Have fun!]

“No, I won’t have any of this! And what kind of Christmas is that anyway? You folks are nuts!” Christina jumped up, angry, and only seconds after the door slammed behind her. The rest of the family looked at each other over the old round oak table.

“Gods, now that again”, complained Susie. For her six years, she was very grown-up and easily annoyed by teenagers. “What’s wrong with inviting grandma over? She’s crazy.”

Mum put her slender hand on Susie’s tiny, chocolate-smeared paw. “Deary, don’t say such a thing about your sister. It is a difficult age.”

“Oh.” Susie thought about that. “I am going to skip that whole teenage stuff, if you don’t mind.”

The parents smiled at each other over the table. The candles in the middle of the gleaming wooden surface made their eyes shine, although the room was rather dark. It smelled of bee wax, winter spices and freshly cut fir tree. The room had been thoroughly decorated, Christmas stuff on every room that had been unoccupied up to now.

“Why doesn’t she like your mother, anyway?” asked Mum after a silent minute.
Dad shrugged. “I don’t know. They seemed to get along so well before… you know. Maybe it upsets her that Ma won’t go to church with us anymore?”

“You’re probably right. I will go and talk to her later. Now, let’s see that we get everything planned and outlined and the invitation on its way. There’s a gratin in the oven that doesn’t like to wait, you know.” And she smiled at him sweetly. After all these years, their marriage was still strong, and she had never been bothered by her mother-in-law. She looked at the photos on the mantle, over the dancing flames that cast coiling shadows on the small round of old-fashioned pouffes where the family liked to gather during the dark season to tell each other stories and drink tea, hot chocolate and the occasional spiced wine for the grown-ups. In honor to the time of the year, there were blood red and dark green blankets and cushions everywhere.

“Now, is there anything special you would like to do this year?”

Susie raised her hand, and a chocolate stain became visible on the tablecloth. It obscured one of the tiny silver snowflakes that had been embroidered upon it during another long winter season, when Mum and Dad still were young and just waiting for their first child to be born, all excited and insecure about how things would turn out. Dad looked at it and contemplated how lucky they were. Nice kids, great jobs, a nice house not too far from everything – shopping malls as well as forests and rivers – and good family ties. That after all these years his wife would go to so great lengths just to have his mother here as well…

“Yes, Susie, what is it?”

“I will play a tune on the violin. After dinner. When everybody is telling stories, before the games start.”

“This sounds lovely.” Mum mustered a smile. Susie hadn’t been playing the violin all that long – only two months – and every sound she had gotten out of that instrument so far had been torture. But she was so enthusiastic, and surely the family could endure a little lopsided tune for love’s sake.

She wrote it down in her careful, neat handwriting. “Is this everything that is to change?”

Her husband looked at her affectionately. “Why should we change a celebration that has brought so much joy to the family over the years?”

“You’re right, Darling.” Once more she smiled at him sweetly. Christmas was always a bloody lot of work, but she didn’t mind. In fact, she rather liked the whole decorating and Christmas gift shopping and the cooking and planning. She loved to make her home the best possible place for her family, and she enjoyed it when friends of them or their kids showed up spontaneously to catch a bit of this special kind of warmth. It seemed that this was not as usual as one might imagine. Of course, she too had read the statistics about suicides indicating that around the shortest day of the year, an above-average amount of people decided they couldn’t stand it and jumped off something or… she shuddered and determinedly pushed that thought away as far as her conscience would allow.

“Now, then let’s get prepared.”

“Do we need Christina for this?”

“No, three people should do nicely. Besides, I don’t want to let your Ma wait any further. She will think we completely forgot her this year.” Mum turned her head. “Susie, Deary, will you pass me the Ouija board? Now, take each other’s hands and think of our beloved grandmother….”

Samstag, 19. Dezember 2009

Things to cure lover's grief

The smell of dark chocolate.
Early morning silence.
Sad music.
Long walks.
Cold air filling your lungs.
Your favourite mug filled with Oriental spiced coffee.
His head and heart on a silver platter and the mess he left in the basement.

Donnerstag, 17. Dezember 2009

Witch Child

Selina wrapped the scarf carefully around her head to hide her destroyed head. The people living in her street thought she was eccentric for never showing her face out in the open. But she would take being considered eccentric over pity every time. Only close friends were allowed to see the molten thing her face had become.

On her way to the market Selina passed the church. It gave her dark delight to live so close to this special place. Her family had lived here for decades, prospering on the white tourists who came to see "picturesque" life in an African village. Some of her uncles and aunts had sold souvenirs. Her grandmother had even opened a tiny bed and breakfast, very simple, very successful. And Selina's father had spent his life as a pickpocket, steeling everything the tourists would not want to spend.

Maybe as a kind of atonement, her mother had been a devout member of the church. She had taken her children to service every Sunday - Selina and her two brothers, small dark children with black curls and yellowish eyes in smiling faces. They wore their best clothes and tried to get to church as clean as possible.

Especially Selina listened to the preacher with big eyes and her mouth shut tightly, so she would not miss a single word he said. She firmly believed that he was right, that his words came from God and that she might be saved from whatever it was she needed saving from if only she was a good child.

She didn’t know for sure, but she strongly suspected it was this intent listening that first brought her to the preacher’s attention. From there to that special night it was only a short way. Several small steps, all innocent, leading to doom. Selina’s amber eyes – the eyes of a lion, or maybe a demon. Her habit of painting in the dirt besides the road, with sticks and stones, and decorating her pictures with leaves and colorful pieces of cloth.

That night they came, yanked her out of bed and brought her to church. There were people she knew very well, and others she had never seen in her life. They had lit candles and chanted ecstatically. Selina was brought to the front. The shaved her head, leaving her naked and surrounded by black hair, coarse as lamb’s wool. She was afraid and listened carefully, trying to understand. People whispered and looked at her disgusted, keeping careful distance at the same time. It almost seemed as if they were afraid.

“Witch” – one whispered word, repeated over and over, had destroyed her life. To prove his point, the preacher sprinkled her with what he claimed to be holy water – and he didn’t lie, he was a servant of God, so part of it surely was holy water. It was meant to show if her soul was corrupted or pure. Evil would be singed away at the first encounter with it. And to be sure his show would go smoothly, he had mixed the water with something different – sulphuric acid, Selina suspected, but she didn’t know it. This mixture had eaten skin and flesh off her bones and almost killed her. Finally they had left her, “defeated”, as they claimed, supposedly dead.

Two days later white people had found her and taken her to hospital. It had been too late to save her face, but not too late to save her life. She was brought far away to live with another family. And there she had learned everything she needed to know about the craft.

Today was a special day. Selina only had a quick glance for the church where her first life had ended. She had returned to this very village, and people who remembered her were afraid of her. But they came to her in the dark of the night, asking for potions and ointments to make their wishes come true or slay their enemies. Selina was the first one in her family who didn’t have to live at the tourists’ mercy. Once or twice she had been asked to perform her “mumbo jumbo” as part of the great African show, but she had refused. Her life was good the way it was. And in a few moments she would meet a special business partner. He had assured her that he could fulfill her needs. She was a tiny bit nervous. Nothing she had tried had helped her. She was a master of the craft, but this needed more powerful intervention.

“You have what I need?”

He nodded and opened one of the large canvas bags lying in the dust at his feet.

She looked at his goods and handed him a wad of bills. Dollars, the only thing of real value around here. Then she took her purchase back home. White limbs. Human limbs. A very special treat to restore herself.

Tanzanian albino. Magical flesh.

**********************************************************

Two true tales woven into one.

Even today African children are accused of witchcraft and are beaten, maimed or killed.

At the same time the flesh of human albinos is considered a magical cure for many problems, and children as well as adults are killed for superstition (and money, of course).

Dienstag, 15. Dezember 2009

[Announcement.]

[No, I haven't given up on writing. It's just that I have been really busy. Sorry for that. I'll give you some new stuff during the next days, got notes and scenes ready to type. Wish me some boring evenings! Oh, and thanks for all your comments!]

Donnerstag, 10. Dezember 2009

The other side of the fence

Henry always says that I'm terribly curious. And a gossip. But that simply ain't true! Well, you know I just like to be informed about what is going on in the neighbourhood. We have been living here for more than thirty years! All these people coming and going, falling in love, cheating on each other - I don't need that stupid television! Ha!

When we were younger and moved here, everything was tidier, of course. The people were different. White picket fences everywhere, literally! But then they started moving away or dying - oh, that dreadful Mrs. Pringle! You think anyone showed up at her funeral? Well, of course WE went. "Henry", I told him, "Henry, we have to go." And of course he didn't want to, but... that's a different story. Now, where was I? Oh, yes.

Over the years younger people moved in, and some were very nice. Others... well, you can't choose your neighbours. I know that. But I wish... One or two times we een had the police around, and two years ago Mr. Hutchkins was shot in his own living room! You wouldn't believe it.

A few months back there was this new family. They bought the house next to ours - at least I think they bought it. They never talk to anyone. Very charming young man. Works as a mechanic somewhere downtown. And a lovely wife and son! Well, I was worried the first time I saw her outside in the garden with a black eye - our gardens meet, you see the fence? - but Henry said I shouldn't worry about other people's personal business. He thinks I am overreacting most of the time. He doesn't want to know about anything that is not in his precious newspaper. Heavens, when did he become so boring?

The woman was very quiet and you hardly ever noticed her at all. But I am good at spotting people. Once I almost ran her over in our old volvo at the supermarket. It wasn't my fault, she simply stood behind the car! I doubt she is very intelligent. But she takes good care of their child.

Several times I saw her with black eyes or bruises, and one day she was limping so bad on her way from the supermarket back home that I offered to give her a ride, but she refused. Henry laughed at me when I told him I had to talk to the officials. "Maybe she just fell? You can't go around telling the police some stranger hits his wife or something! At best they'll make fun of you! Don't get them in trouble, dearie, please." So I left it at that.

Come to think of it... I haven't seen her in at least a week, and the child seems to be at home all the time. Poor tiny creature, with his dirty trousers... I wonder where the woman has gone? Maybe something happened to her? Oh no, I can hear Henry laughing already, and I haven't even told him! He is right, I've got an overactive imagination. I guess the woman simply went out of town to visit some relatives. I'd better go inside and fix dinner.

Mittwoch, 9. Dezember 2009

Dark gifts

She was only an old lady - slim, not too tall, straight back. A pale face lined with wrinkles, sharp as creases. She wore a long, dark grey coat, and as she was looking at the shop display, everyone would have believed the camouflage.

In the old times, she mused - not seeing the expensive jewelery or the delicate china cups and saucers - people were afraid of her, but they would worship her nevertheless. In regular intervals, they had brought her - gifts. Special gifts. Things that were close to their hearts, irreplaceable gifts. They would act with a feeling of honour and commitment, and although it would make many families suffer - if the gift was their only one or if they loved it more dearly than it deserved - no one had thought about not coming to her.

Well, that was back then. The old woman straightened her shoulders and turned around. The time was near. She walked towards the traffic light, purse tucked tightly under her arm. A tiny hat with a dark grey veil sat on top of her silver-white hair, like a bird in its nest. She moved with grace and faster than most women of her age. She snickered at this thought.

The lights were red, and one of the kids next to her obviously didn't trust the official system. Seeing no car or bus near, he started running across the street.

The old woman's hand came down upon his shoulder like an eagle's claw on its prey. "Wait, boy."

"Hey!"

"The traffic light is red. Don't you see it?" She looked him straight in the eye.

The child hesitated for the shortest of moments, then freed himself with an abrupt movement of his slender shoulders. "You're not my mother!" he simply said and turned around.

And was run over by a bus coming around the bend.

"You're right, dearie. I am not your mother." The old woman's face stayed calm, while around her people started to panik. Excited voices, shouts, people hurrying closer. She would play her part till it was over - she knew what the scene would be like, creating it insider her head as time moved forward. The unconsoleable old lady, trying to save a kid but unable to.

A soft shimmer rose from the dead body and rose up into the cold december air. She plucked it from the cold, with a gesture so small no one noticed it.

If they didn't bring her gifts, she would come and get them.

Montag, 7. Dezember 2009

The monster under the sink

"Mommy?"
"Yes, darling?"
"Mommy, there's a monster under the sink."
"Now, Stephanie, aren't you too old to believe in monsters? The only thing under the sink is the trash can. Go to sleep."
"I love you, Mommy."
"I love you, too."

@ @ @

I stopped talking about the monster. But it's still there. Don't believe me? Go and see for yourself! It's eyes are glowing in the dark. Sometimes I am scared - although it's only a tiny monster, I guess, if it fits in there with all the stuff.
How I wish Joshua would go to the party with me. It's Christina's birthday. She is my best friend. And Josh - he is sooo cute! But I'm sure he won't ask me. Of course he won't. Who would go out with a crazy chick that sees monsters in their house anyway? Christina said something about a Ouija board. Sounds exciting.

@ @ @

They say they can't bear it anymore. They say I am crazy because I trashed the kitchen. But the monster attacked me, and I am glad I survived. They say they are going to take me somewhere with people who can help me. I wonder what they are talking about - exorzism?

@ @ @

I wish I remembered a damn thing from before my stay inside. Don't know what the hell they did with my memory. Maybe it was the drugs, or maybe it was the treatment. In my file I read something about electric shock therapy, but they must have made that up. I don't remember any of that stuff. I don't remember much at all. Hell, I don't even know why they brought me there.
Fortunately, Peter was there for me. We met after I was discharged, and we are going to marry in two weeks. My parents said they would move to Florida, so we will have the house to ourselves. They looked at me when they said it, as if they were waiting for something.
I am glad Peter is such a good cook. I don't like cooking. I stay out of the kitchen as much as I can. Funny, hu?
Oh, by the way - don't tell anybody, but I am pregnant. It's still a secret. You know how the neighbours are...

@ @ @

Lovely daughter. But something is wrong with her, I think. Yesterday when she couldn't sleep and I went to fetch her milk and cookies from the kitchen, she told me to be careful. She said something was living under the sink.
Children have really vivid dreams, sometimes.

Freitag, 4. Dezember 2009

Cherie

Bed, desk and most of the floor were covered with books. And papers. Lots of papers. Unreadable notes, scribbled on everything she had found in her pockets. Thoroughly prepared notes on projects she was working on, homework and presentations. Most of it was biology, her major. But there was also stuff for lessons she had taken on voluntarily. Her days were just as busy as her nights. Cherie loved learning and discovering new stuff, she craved knowledge other people craved foor (or sex).

A sharp knock at the door. Sylvie was worried they were running late. They shared this flat - and working place - and had become rather good friends. However, Sylvie never understood Cheries longing for her studies. "You work all night, why don'T you try and get some rest? Instead you're running after all these smartasses on campus. What if one recognizes you?"

Which was to be doubted. During the days she wore baggy clothes, no makeup and spent hardly any time on her hairdo. No one would even imagine... Cherie smiled at the thought and put her stuff in the desk drawers. The clients did not like it if she had personal belongings lying about. Probably reminded them of the fact that she had a real life. For a while she had tried taking them to a cheap hotel, but most would not pay extra for a room. So she always tried to make her place look as neutral and uninhabitated as possible.

Sylvie was the one who had brought her into the business. "With a name like yours, you have to try it!" And Cherie had liked it. Okay, she had not liked it, but at least she hadn't disliked it completely, and the money had convinced her.

It was cold, but she chose her clothes carefully. Expertly applied makeup. Maybe a touch too much for most occasions, but perfect for where she was going. Dark mascara framed her grey eyes. She did not have to make her lips look bigger using lipstick, every guy loved her mouth just the way it was. She chose fire engine red - a signal, "Come hither."

For just a second doubt crept through her brain. Life had always been dangerous out on the streets, and for the girls more than for most other people. But this kind of work paid her rent and made sure she had enough time to study. In a year or two, maybe, she would be a marine biologist. Surely her body wouldn't be the next to be fished out of the river. Lady Fortuna was always close to her. She touched the old coin that hung on a chain around her neck. The surface was smooth and unreadable.

"You're ready? You know, the guys won't wait for us!"

"Just a moment", Cherie yelled back. "Have you seen my garters? Oh, found them!" Shegrabbed them from her keyboard and fixed them thoroughly. Most of them was visible under her skirt. Her mother probably wouldn't call it a skirt. Oh, screw it. She was loaded for bear. One last look in the mirror - she looked gorgeous. None of her fellow students would recognize her like this.


Her thoughts wandered to the ocean turtles she visited at least once a week, down at the zoo. They always seemed to smile.

She forced her concentration back on work.

The night was hers.

Donnerstag, 3. Dezember 2009

Home sweet home

Terry hadn't wanted him in the delivery room with her, and he was thankful. Not that he was afraid he would throw up or faint or something, but all the gorey details he had heard from friends who had been there, all the blood and slime and - and all that woman stuff. He was perfectly content to sit in a corner among the other visitors, read his magazines - PHOTOGRAPHER'S NEWS, DIGITAL EYE or MODERN MANAGEMENT, for his job. Sometimes he would go downstairs, get some coffee at the cafeteria or smoke outside the hospital. There would always be a small crowd, standing closely together, huddling in on themselves against the rain and the wind and the cold. They were like the freemasons, kind of. Well, only less secrete and less exclusive. Everyone could join them, as long as they had the money for cigarettes. Modern incense.

From time to time, while he was sitting outside the delivery room, a nurse or a doctor would come out to assure him that everything was alright and that his lovely wife and child would be with him soon. When they opened the double doors for a moment, he could hear Terry swearing. Boy, he hadn't known she knew so many - uhm, words. And where had she learnt them anyway? He looked at his watch, decided his next smoke could wait for another hour or something and tried to concentrate on this article about the latest developments in apertures. At least all those difficult words and long rows and columns of numbers halped him not to worry. It felt like shoe-shopping... he was sitting here and wondering what the hell Terry was up to. Ha, probably she would come out without a child, because she didn't find what she liked...

"Mr. Rogers?"

He looked up from his magazine. "Yes?"

"They are ready. If you want, you can come and see them. Room 231."

He put the magazine in his bagpack, stood up and went down the corridor.

"Hey, honey. How are you doing?"

Terry looked exhausted, pale and beautiful. She was wearing one of these ugly hospital gowns, her long blond hair was tousled and looked more like a bird's nest than something you should wear on your head. The smile, however, made up for all this. She seemed to glow, as if she had just heard a choir of saints singing. He bend over her and kissed her lightly on the forehead.

"You want to hold her?"

"Sure." He was not really sure, but if he didn't hold her, Terry would never let him forget this. So he waited and she handed him the child and he took her in his arms expertly. He had had much time to practice when his nephews were born two and three years back.

"Isn't she beautiful?" Terry said. "Let's call her Emma."

And right this moment, he didn't have the heart to go against her wishes. Their daughter really looked like an Emma.

They went home and survived the first weeks as newborn parents, and Emma was a really quiet baby and grew and smiled a lot.

But something was wrong.

He could not put his finger on it, but he felt that something was completely wrong. Sometimes he would look at Emma and she would look right back at him. And he knew it couldn't be true, because children this young could not focus. Terry always laughed at him. "You are such an evil man, and yet you are scared of your own daughter?"

"Well, I should be", he teased her back and tried to smile, "she's got my genes. That's like learning from the best."

Later, he would be convinced that Emma laughed at him. She had this smile, this way of looking at him, and he felt as if she was making fun of him. She let him hold her, let him feed her. At least when Terry was not around. As soon as Terry entered the room, Emma would struggle to get back to her mother. Terry would laugh and take her and make her wave at him, and Emma would wave and smile her twisted, toothless little smile.

And a few months later Emma began to move on her own. When he was sitting at his desk, working or reading or going through their paperwork, she would sometimes come crawling towards him, determined. He started closing his office door, but Terry laughed at him. "At first you say she doesn't like you, and now you are worried because she wants to play with you? That's ridiculous!"

And Emma smiled.

He started feeling uneasy. This place was not safe any longer.

Mittwoch, 2. Dezember 2009

Bite me

It had been a very, very long day. Too hot for work, too much work to do to ignore it. Sally had been running errands all day, and now she was dying for a cup of tea. Literally speaking.

Tea, she had often heard her mother say, is the best beverage for hot days, and over the years she had come to appreciate the advice. Her mother had probably never even dreamed of her daughter living and working in a hot climate as this. But Sally had always been a restless girl, she had wanted to see so much of the world, and at the age of forty, she had seen a lot of it. Maybe now, she would stay here. At least for a while.

And every day at 4 p.m., no matter how busy she was or how much work was waiting for her, she would have a break of ten or maybe fifteen minutes and have a cup of tea. Not only the usual black or green tea, she would also try all kinds of herb teas and exotic mixtures.

The water took about an eternity to boil, and Sally spilled some of it on her left hand - her good hand, the one she used for most of her tasks, since the other one... Never mind. When the tea had the right color, she threw the tea bag away, took her cup in her left hand - ouch! Be careful, she reminded herself - and took the stairs back into the basement, where she had her tiny office. Honestly, it was more of a broom closet, but it was hers.

Just as she turned the corner at the food of the stairs, someone crashed into her. Sally spilled tea over a white shirt, felt an impressing body beneath her hands. Oh, fuck! It was possibly one of their clients, and she had ruined his suit. She apologized, using the national language, and started kneeling down to collect the shards of her favorite cup.

"Stupid woman!" the man snapped. Sally repeated her apologies, but obviously it wasn't enough. Already the guy at the main entrance threw them curious glances. In a moment or two, he would start coming over to them.

What the hell - ? That guy had kicked her!

Sally didn't think. Her ribs hurt. She turned and put her teeth to good use. Blood filled her mouth, and she could feel the tender flesh of his lower leg giving in.

It worked. He jumped back, almost tearing a chunk of flesh from his leg, and stared at her in horror. "She bit me!"

Yes, I did, Sally thought and grinned. It surely was no nice view. She felt something dripping down her chin. Blood or saliva? She didn't care, not really.

No one moved but her. She picked up the shards and took the stairs down to her office. She would be in trouble soon. Again. Sally smiled and started packing her belongings. If she hurried, she would be out of here before they started asking questions. It was never wise to be accused of hurting a national guy.

Okay, Sally reassured herself, nothing wrong with you. Time to move.