Freitag, 30. April 2010

A slice of life

This is the cycle of life, he thinks as he watches the ocean. Beer bottles returning to shore, no matter how far you throw them. They always come back. At first it seems as if they are heading right for the firmament, then they reconsider and fall back into the water, the splashing hardly audible over the murmur of the waves.

He has spent all day at the beach, drinking and thinking and drinking some more. Went here straight from the airport. Didn’t even take the time to find a hotel. He was confused. Overwhelmed. People don’t come here to die, he thinks, they come here to live. Or at least that’s what they tell you in the adds. No sick or old or fading people, only happiness and sunshine. Tanned, muscular bodies, giggles, curves – the whole nine yards.

His father came here to die. The last place on earth they would have searched for him. The postcard was in the mail just a few days back , with a picture of the most beautiful sunset cliché – “I decided to try something new, since the doctors said they wanted no piece of my skinny ass… please don’t tell your mom, it will be too late anyway. Come and pick me up when I'm done.” – the original words. His father had always been very straightforward, up to the point of being rude. Once at a family reunion he had made Aunt Margie cry. It had been a memorable occasion for the rest of the family, who had always been afraid of this impressing woman. And now he had simply left the hospital, with his tiny emergency suitcase, and headed straight for the airport. Crazy old guy. Spent about two weeks here, it seems, exploring the island.

There are no bills to pay, no loose ends to tie up. His father was very thorough. Paid everything in cash. Several people will probably remember the old man, fondly, his generosity and the bright smile, as if he had all the time to see the rest of the world as well. No one would expect that this was the first time he ever left his home country – the only time. He came here to watch the incredibly blue sea, rivaled only by the sky stretching above it, which now is a tent sprinkled with myriads of sparkling stars, fresh and lovely against a sky that could never be described as black.

He smiles as he thinks about it. There are worse places in the world to die, really. Tomorrow there will be lots of paperwork waiting for him, but this is it, tonight, here, just like this. No family, no responsibilities. His mother will probably be at home right now, rummaging through the drawers, searching for a testament – hoping for a fortune to miraculously turn up somewhere. She is a very practical woman. Maybe she did not love her husband after forty-three years of marriage. Maybe she got used to the thought of him dying, of being alone, while her husband was slowly eaten up from the inside. Pancreatic cancer. Now that it’s over, everything will be easier. More peaceful. Kind of.

As he wanders along the beach, he imagines his father on his last day on earth, taking in the smells of this exotic place, luxuriating in the sunshine, tasting strange fruit. Flirting with the women – not only the beautiful. He used to like women, simply because they were women. And he used to laugh a lot.

He knows his father was not alone when he died. Someone placed a call to the hospital. Someone helped him during these last few hours, administered the painkillers. Held him, hopefully. Showed him the ocean – far from home. Home, with its dry lands and greenish-brown patches of grass. The place where their house was, where no one ever really lived.

His father must have loved it here. He made a choice and stuck to it. Sent him the postcard. Gave his second son the chance to see something new, between working at the garage and fighting in court over the right to see his own kids. “There must be more to life than this.” Sounds like a cliché, hu? But the old man was so right.

The young man buries his toes in the sand. Thinks of fresh exotic fruit, sliced and ready to be savored. Thinks of chocolate-colored women. Smiles. The sand tickles under his feet, then is washed away by the warm ocean waves.

Donnerstag, 22. April 2010

Snapshot

It's inside me, gnawing and growling if I pay too much attention.

I try to ignore it as good as I can. It's dangerous. Isntead, I concentrate on my job. I am a photographer.

Everything started pretty harmless. My parents always said I had a vivid imagination. And not too many friends. But it was okay, I played with imaginary people. That's probably still one of their favorite tales to tell, I guess. I haven't seen them in a while.

They tried to make up for it, by buying a hamster. The hamster died shortly after.

They didn't give me another pet. But that was okay, I had taken pictures of it. You know, I had this tiny camera. Nothing fancy, not like those you can buy today, with this digital stuff and all. It was a birthday present.

I guess I did quite well in school, but still I had no friends. And slowly I came to realize what my imaginary friends were. IT. I heard it at night, just out of reach.

Sometimes I thought my parents were scared of me, when I brought along homeless pets. You might say I collected them. Parts of them, that is.

These days, I have a fancy digital camera, of course. However, I also still have this collection. Pictures of my hamster, hanging dead from the ceiling fan. Last pictures of my parents, terror in their eyes. Together with several boxes filled with furry ears and tails.

Freitag, 16. April 2010

No big deal

You told me to get over it.

It's a peaceful place, with plenty of flowers, vibrant green. At this time of the year, it seems as if life could go on forever. The river fills the air with soft murmur and the smell of sweet flowing water. The river bank is made of tiny, light gray pebbles, worn smooth. This spot is hidden from the world, I can't even see the ships going by, on their way to the ocean. Sometimes the cry of a bird tells me that I am not the only person in the world. The sun is shining, and there is no reason to ever go back.

I put my belongings on a flat stone. It looks like a fairy table, completely flat and perfectly oval-shaped. My phone has been switched off for days. The wallet is almost empty, except for an old poem I once found in a newspaper and a picture of my brother. A ring, a barrette and my glasses. A whole life, in such a tiny space.

The river is singing to me. Rays of sunlight are dancing over its surface. It's a peaceful place.

I will be over it soon.

Mittwoch, 14. April 2010

[Announcement]

I know there has not much been going on around here lately, and the bad news is - it will probably become even less during the next few weeks. I have important exams ahead of me, due in about 4 weeks, and I will need all my free time for my studies. This means, unless I can steal some office time for writing, the dust will settle in this blog. Sorry!

(But: I'll be back.)

Dienstag, 13. April 2010

Late night train

It is late when Peter finally leaves the office. The streets are empty, pools of yellowish light under the few street lanterns that still work, waves of darkness in-between. It is still warm outside, after a day of sunshine and happiness for those who could afford to stay at home, go to the beach or meet friends in the park. For those who have to work in an office without air-conditioning… well, Peter's mood could not be much worse. He isn't even sure he'll still find a train to catch, for in these parts of town public life still usually ends at eight in the evening, at the latest.

His briefcase is heavy, the project has to be ready and presentable by Monday. One more weekend spent at the desk, in front of his out-dated computer with the flickering screen. Maybe after this he'll finally get a raise and be able to afford a new PC, maybe one of those MacBooks he has heard so much about. He could really need a change right now.

The station is empty, except for gangs of trash surrounding and probably threatening the helpless trash can. Peter smiles. His mother always said his imagination was overactive. However, you have to find something to cheer you up when everything else goes down the drain. He'd never tell a soul, but he keeps making up little stories about the people he meets. The best are about his boss finally getting what he deserves, by karma or in hell or whichever possible way.

Humming in the distance. They're probably cleaning the streets with one of those fancy brush-cars. Or no, wait, isn't it coming closer! This may be his lucky day, after all! And there, as if by magic, are the lights, coming closer, slowing down, and the train stops at the platform, one door right in front of him, and Peter gets on the train immediately.

It's refreshingly cool inside. At this time of the day, the rail car is almost empty, and the few people sitting as far away from each other as possible look as if they could really need a change in life. They look numb, white skin, hollow eyes, no one's moving. Peter holds his briefcase closer to himself, almost hugging it. That guy with the baseball cap over at the other end of the compartment might be trouble. Fortunately, it will be only about thirty minutes before Peter will reach his destination. He sits down as far away from the rest of the people as possible, leans back and closes his eyes.

An old woman enters through the back door of the compartment and approaches each of the passengers with pleading eyes and a plate with a few coins on it. An overweight woman fumbles for money in her purse, embarrassed by the presence of the beggar. “Thank you”, the old woman says and limps on. Her voice sounds as if a file were dragged across rusty metal. She comes to Peter, charm bracelets tinkling as she shakes her arm in front of him. Peter pretends being asleep and tries to ignore her as she snorts and limps on. Long dirty skirts sweep the floor. Her gait is strange, something must be terribly wrong with her legs. Peter feels a pang of guilt, but can't muster the strength to get up and follow the woman. Well, she's probably only acting her part to get more pity - and money - out of unsuspicious, hard-working people. His guilt is quickly transformed into anger, and he turns towards the window again.

He must have fallen asleep, then, because he couldn't remember the train having stopped, and looking through the grimy window next to him, he wasn't sure he recognized the surroundings. Had he missed his station? Surely not, he couldn't have slept more than a few minutes, he was sure of this, although one or two of the people seemed to have gotten off somewhere.

Right this moment, the train enters a tunnel, and the lights turn off. Peter is startled. A tunnel? There is no tunnel on his way to work, and surely none on his way back home. Shit, he must have slept through his station. And why are those friggin' lights off?

He's shivering. That's definitely overdoing air conditioning. And the train speeds on, leaves the tunnel, lights come to life again, and when Peter looks around in an attempt to clear his head, the guy with the baseball cap is gone as well. What the hell?! He's sure he saw him just a moment ago. Maybe the creep is hiding somewhere, attempting to mug Peter, now that they're both alone. No matter what happens, the next station he'll get off. Take a cab, get home in safety, not think about the extra money he will have spent.

Peter gets up off his seat, keeping an eye on his surroundings, and approaches the door closest to him. They have to stop any minute now. His knees are weak, and he feels as if he is coming up with a cold or something. Great, the last thing on this damn planet that he needs right now. He can already see it, working through his days and nights, no break, all the while sipping hot peppermint tea. He hates peppermint tea.

The loudspeakers come to life with a nasty cough and hiss, “Dear customers, we are about to reach our final destination. We thank you for trusting in this marvel of modern public transportation. Please be prepared to leave your lives behind.” The voice sounds roughly familiar, metallic and screeching. Where has he heard this voice before?

Peter stops in his tracks. The old woman! But, that's impossible, isn't it.

The train slows down, comes to a halt, too, and the doors open. Outside, there is nothing but darkness.

Freitag, 9. April 2010

Late night snack

The green numbers on the alarm clock told her it was 01:37. At night. In the early morning. Whatever. The thing was, she couldn't sleep. He was making strange noises again. Smacking - as if he was eating something

She was so very tired. Since they had moved in together, he had kept her awake every night by making various sounds. Right now, he probably dreamed of pizza or something. She stared out the open window. His warm breath caressed her bare back. The smacking continued.

Outside, the trees were moving gently. It looked like a beautiful summer night, full moon high in the sky, but it was only March, and bitter cold. She never slept with the window closed. Sometimes, they would wake up and find a squirrel in their bedroom, ranting.

What a strange smell...

She grabbed her blanket to cover more of her shoulders and stopped mid-motion. Something growled at her. What the hell?? She turned around, a gush of cold air slapping her back.

A small, misshapen shape was sitting on him. The stain on his T-shirt looked black in the moonlight. His chest looked wrong... caved in. The smell grew worse.

The thing looked at her with huge yellow eyes and bared sharp, tiny teeth. It looked almost like one of the gargoyles they had admired in Paris last fall, on their honeymoon trip. It's skin was covered with dark lumps, like a toad's.

Tentatively, she moved her arm. The thing jerked away from her. It seemed afraid.

"Tshk!" she hissed. The thing jumped off the bed and hurried out the bedroom door. The room was silent once more. He didn't move.

She turned around and snuggled under her blanket. Finally, she would be able to sleep.

Donnerstag, 8. April 2010

[Announcement]



On Saturday, April 10th, 2010, 12.45p.m. EST (which would be 6.45p.m. CEST - you'll have to figure out all the rest for yourself, sorry, I'm lazy today :-) ) you may possibly - if all the technical stuff works and I don't get nervous or blow up the notebook by chance - witness me being interviewed online over there

The complete event will start about 45min earlier, if you want to learn more about the other, possibly far more brilliant authors who were also included in the anthology.

And if you want to help me to become famous *exaggerating*, make sure we're at the top of the amazon.com list (I was told there is a list and it is supposed to be important), head over to amazon on Saturday and look at the book or add it to your wish list (or maybe even buy it).

PS: I am absolutely thrilled that there is a picture at the top of this post! (^v^)

Freitag, 2. April 2010

Worlds on paper

"... and since it is a very dangerous place, I am not certain how much longer I will be able to stay at my hacienda and take care of my precious cocoa plants. Last week, the military showed up and announced, in no uncertain terms, that they were going to nationalize all my plantations and send me to jail. They think that I may be a British spy and a traitor. I have sent my wife to her family, together with the kids. They should be safe there. However, I need to stop now, and hope this letter will find you in good health and safety. Best wishes - Timothy"
He paused, pen in hand, and thought for a moment. The traffic outside his tiny apartment was noisy, the air too hot and filled with many different fragrants and smells.
Then he added, "PS: If you do not hear from me again, don't fear. Most likely everything is going to be fine."
There it was. A complete life on paper. On some days, his penpals were the only thing that kept him from ending it all.
He looked at the other letters awaiting reply, stacked on the edge of his worn desk. From the hallway, he could smell the fish stew his landlady was cooking. Fish, every Friday. He hated fish.
He sighed, took the next letter and spent a few moments rereading it carefully. Then he took out a white sheet of paper and started writing.
"Dear Lydia,
How are you doing? Thank you very much for your letter. Since you ask, my husband has recovered well from his injury, and things are going splendid in my little flower shop..."