Freitag, 25. Februar 2011

Plants and insects

"Wait, what?" Tom started to laugh at her, and she felt her face turn red. "How could you not know that? Of course all kinds of paprika come from the same plant! You are so cute sometimes!"

The other people in the restaurant were staring at their table. "Excuse me, Darling, I've got to freshen up a little."

He smiled at her, all sparkling eyes and shiny white teeth, and grabbed her hand. "Don't be mad at me, Saskia Honey. You know I love you! But that was too funny."

Without success, she tried to free her hand. "I am not mad at you. As I said, I need to freshen up. Please." Did he really have to do that? Right here, with everyone watching them? Why couldn't he help her make sure the evening went nice and smooth, a real, romantic date, without some kind of ruccus?

Reluctantly, he let go of her hand. "Okay, I'll be right here."

The light in the bathroom was harsh, the mirrors poorly polished and the faucets leaked. The rest of the restaurant was far nicer. But of course, she thought, you didn't see the bathrooms when booking a table. No need to keep them nice. Unless they wanted their guests to return.

Her face in the mirror stopped burning. A few more moments, and she would be back at her normal teint. Why did he do this? He humiliated her all the time. In public. Preferably when her friends and family were around. Some days she couldn't help it, she felt so stupid! Although she used to consider herself pretty smart, maybe even a bit above average. When confronted, he denied everything. No way would he want to hurt her! It was just... couldn't she see it was pretty funny? All her small town girl attire and naive ways of thinking... - well, no use thinking about it now. She pushed the anger back where it belonged, into the dark. Time for dessert. She forced a smile on her face, tried to open the bathroom door without touching any of it and returned to their table.

The next day was a Sunday, and they went hiking, like they did every Sunday. She would have preferred to go to church, but he mocked her for "believing in the immortal son of a carpenter who flew from his cross directly into the sky". Thus she had taken to praying at night, while he was watching TV or messing with his tools in the garage. Surely God would forgive her for making things work.

It was a new trail, somewhere they hadn't been before. The sun was shining, and the leaves on the bushes were sparkling with their dewdrop jewellery. They advanced steadily, enjoying the fresh air, huffing when climbing steeper slopes. She stayed a few steps behind him, following his guidance, and only stopped now and again for a good look of their surroundings. The view was terrific.

"What are you doing there? Don't be lazy, come on! Or is the trail too difficult for your short girl legs?"

"No, no, I'm fine. I was just..."

"We can make a break once we reach the lookout point. Now hurry, I want to be back in time to watch the soccer match!"

A few stepf further up the path, they met the beetle. It was rather large, at least for a beetle, and black with an oil-film shine to its back. Tom almost hadn't seen it, but she shouted, "Look out! Don't step on it!"

He stopped mid-motion, looked on the ground, and almost fell over with laughter. "You're such a cute little girl, you know that? You even care for these nasty little critters? I'll have to make sure we don't go to the zoo, you'll break down and cry when they feed the geckos with crickets!" He crouched down to get a better look at the beetle, who seemed unimpressed by its visitors, and grabbed it by its shell.

"Don't do that!" she pleaded.

"Why? It's not as if they feel anything, is it." He held the beetle closer to his face.

Saskia let out a sigh and took the backpack from her shoulders to have some water. She turned around to admire the view. They were pretty far up high already, and no one else was around. That was the advantage of going early on Sundays.

A breathless kind-of-shout, kind-of gargling behind her. She looked over her shoulder and saw Tom lying on the ground, obviously in a lot of pain. His face was growning redder by the second, and his eyes started to bulge. Had he said, "Help me?" No, surely not. Of course, she could have told him that this beetle was highly poisonous, and that it had strong mandibles that could bite through the skin between human fingers, and that it was very likely the poison would cause respiratory distress. She had learned all these things at college. But she had expected him to know this, as he always made clear he was so much more clever than she was.

She flopped down on the ground in a safe distance, her back on the shape on the ground. Time for a snack. The view was truly spectacular, and the annoying sound would stop in a few moments.

Sonntag, 20. Februar 2011

Fairy stuff

Being a good fairy wasn't that easy after all. I looked at the mess I had made and sighed. Still lots of stuff to learn, hu? And this had been a classic, as far as fairy spells went.

What is inside you shall be visible on the outside!

Sounds easy, doesn't it? This week's assignment. Hadn't worked out as intended.

A knock at the door. "Hey, Cutie, you're ready?"

I nodded. "Let me go grab my stuff."

"Mind if I help myself?" He lifted the unlabeled bottle of beer to his lips and emptied it in a few gulps. His eyebrows rose when he saw my face. "Was that some love potion?"

"No, it's just..." I paused. It was too late anyway. "Nevermind, let's go!"

Montag, 14. Februar 2011

Sunny day

One sunny day, she will arrive home early, unexpected. You will be in the kitchen, dancing and doing the dishes. The bottle brush will be your microphone, and Aretha will come blaring from the stereo. And there will be no explanation for your appearance. You will blush, mumble something about it being laundry day and that it is not what it looks like, but she will not believe you. And it will be made so much worse by the fact that you are wearing her old wedding dress, which fits you just as perfect as it fit her back then.

Mittwoch, 9. Februar 2011

Official duties don't end like that

I knew exactly that hiding under a mountain of blankets was not an option. At least not forever. It might do for a few hours, or even days, but after that...

"Okay, I give in. What do you want from me?"

The ungulate guy at the foot of the bed shrugged. "Why are you mad at me? I am only the messenger!"

I increased the power of my glare, from stern to superglare, but to no avail.

"Are you coming?" He was nervous. That was clearly visible. He was scratching the good wooden floor with his hoof.

"Stop that!" With a sigh, I threw the blankets off of me and grabbed my morning gown.

"Uhm... there is no need to dress. We can't take anything with us anyway."

"Wha-"

Bzzzzzeet.

"...t?"

This was definitely not my apartment. I looked around me. My brain was sliding around in my head, and not having fun. The moment Goat Boy over there had grabbed my hand, we had been... bzzzzeet... and been... Somewhere Else.

I didn't like being somewhere else.

"What is this? And where?"

"Hssht!" Goat Guy seemed to listen to something. He pointed down the narrow, uneven hallway. In the distance I could see light, flickering with irritation, like really impatient flames. My skin was covered in cappuccino-colored goosebumps. The color was natural. Freezing was rather rare for me.

"I am not going anywhere without clothes." I crossed my arms in front of my chest and couldn't help noticing just how cold it was.

Goat Boy sighed with impatience. "Look, I could just transport us over there, but that would be rather impolite. Don't make me do that."

"Can you scratch yourself behind the ear with these hooves?" I stared at him, feet hip-wide apart, trying to look tough. I was probably failing miserably. No surprise there, at my height it takes more than attitude to impress the others.

He didn't react.

Reluctantly, I gave up on being stubborn. For the moment.

The hallway was dark, with cave-like walls and a dark stone floor. The flickering light, I learned, came from small lamps every few meters, which were set to "fire imitation mode". Or whatever you wanted to call it. It really was more irritating than - I was not sure what they wanted to achieve by this - charming? Cozy?

As we went down the hallway, the sound of a merry gathering echoed towards us. Someone was having a good time. Not me, that much was sure. My feet hurt from touching the cold floor, and my goosebumps looked like medium-grit sandpaper.

Something started bugging me. I mean, apart from the fact that

Option A: I was going insane or

Option B: This was a really, REALLY weird dream or

Option C: ... Nah, forget option C. Too strange.

Be that as it may... wait, I knew that voice!

Harry Gumble.

My boss.

My DEAD boss, to be exact. The funeral had been last week. Okay, this was a dream. Had to be.

We arrived at a door to our right, behind which the party was taking up speed. Harry Gumble was sitting in what appeared to be a whirlpool, steam curling upwards from the surface of an opaque fluid with a metallic shine, and was just about to toast the rest of the party with a huge glass of - well, whatever. Surely high-proof, that's what had killed him, after all.

I tried to keep my gaze on my former boss and ignore the fact that he was naked. The alternative would be taking in the rest of this madness. As far as I had glanced, none of the - well, not exactly people - around here was human. Horns, more hooves, wings, scales... I preferred not to see any of it.

"Miss Skilling, how good of you to join us!"

"Mister Gumble! How good to see you!" My polite kicked in and saved me from stammering like a madwoman in need of a new jar of marbles.

"I am soo sorry I had to have Alredo there disturb you - but could you teach him how to make a proper cup of coffee? I don't know what this is, but apart from coffee I'm having the blast of my life."

He probably meant afterlife.

Donnerstag, 3. Februar 2011

Jack

The bones scare me.

(Which bones? Whose? And where?)

It's dark. I don't see anything but bones. Dreadful smell. Something's moving. Not enough light for details, still glinting off the bones.

Surely they aren't moving without help. Rats, maybe?

I don't know who I am or where I came from, but I know rats. Not in pictures or words, only fear pulsing through my brain.

The rats are an illusion, as are the bones. Whole worlds made up in this narrow space. Something pushes me, and I jump, followed by music and laughter.

"Oh, look! A Jack in the Box!"