15 October, 2006


I am in a shapeless room flooded with light – a shining white vacuum. Before me appears an angelic form, the gender clearly feminine. Her powerful wings tremble, her long silver-white hair shines and dances in a wind that I cannot feel. The slender silhouette is wrapped in a lengthy blue gown that shimmers as if it wanted to dissolve in the glowing white of the room. I look up. The pale, expressionless face sparks a cold chill over me, but I do not hesitate as the angel reaches her hand towards me – the hand is cold but gentle and grasps my own with a firm embrace. I allow myself to be led. The formless room becomes a dry, yellow-brown path littered with stones. It vanishes at the horizon in the deep blue of the sky. As we reach the path's end, a wide, cloud-covered abyss opens before us. Now I feel the bites of the bitter wind as if it would rush me into the depths. The angel spreads her wings and leaps into the abyss, my hand still firmly held in hers, pulling me after her. Overwhelmed by the moment of weightlessness I do not notice that the angel has released my hand and dissolved into the blue inscrutability of the firmament. I fall through the blanket of clouds, but the clouds are not soft and tender, the way I had always imagined them to be. They are sharp and rough and tear my skin away as I fall through them, ever deeper into the abyss. I see that I am drenched with blood and the clouds above me glow a tender red. I sink below into the dark-indigo realm of the Undines. The hope that the wounds of my fall through the clouds would be soothed by the pure, cold current is abruptly dissolved. The water burns in the open flesh and bloody stripes stream from my body so deeply submerged in the unfriendly blue. First these stripes are long and the color of carmine, then they become lighter and thinner until my body glides, free of blood, almost translucent, through water that no longer burns. I leave the water. I feel an increased ease of motion, a weightlessness. Each step is like gliding through the air, each movement like a dive in the sea. I find myself now in a meadow, enclosed in the distance by a forest. Gripped by the feeling that I am lighter than air I let myself fall into the wild green, grip it with hands that I ball tightly into fists to vigorously tear out tufts of grass. From the two callow spots a thick red substance begins to flow forth. It surrounds me and begins to intrude its way into my flesh still raw with wounds. The feeling of weightlessness diminishes. The blood of the Earth courses its way through my veins, closing the skin behind it. I open my eyes. The sky above me begins to darken. I smell rain in the air. With the feeling that I have lain for centuries in the meadow, I slowly pull myself upright. My heavy limbs reluctantly obey and carry me to the grove of trees that entices from the distance with its somber depths. The crowns of the century-old trees permit little light into the interior of the forest. The sense of murky green melds into the odor of damp humus, which I slowly approach until I am completely enclosed by the thicket. Gradually my eyes adjust themselves to the darkness and I am able to recognize the contours of single trees. The forest appears deserted. The sounds of shy mammals and nimble insects, even the slightest breath of wind are absent. For this reason I am surprised to see, between two somewhat narrow tree trunks, the figure of a well-grown woman. The feeling, however, does not linger. It is replaced with a sudden certainty that this person belongs here, that this is her forest and that I, as her guest, must show her my esteem. I approach her, head bent before the mistress of the trees - she likewise steps towards me. She takes my face in her meager hands and kisses me on the forehead. Her lips are soft and warm. Though I expected cold severity, I am not surprised. She brushes her warm and arid fingers over my face and I fall asleep. Or am I dead...

I am in a shapeless room flooded with light – a shining white vacuum. Before me appears a human form, the gender clearly feminine. My powerful wings tremble, my long silver-white hair shines and dances in the wind. She looks up. I offer her my hand. She allows me to lead her.

15 May, 2006

The romantic Girl

The girl leaned back, her thoughts circling around her two fellow travelers. A picture book couple – watching them almost made the tedious train ride pleasant. The book she’d packed for the trip remained between her hands, open to the last read page, no chance of the story holding her attention against the picture of that couple in love – as she concluded they doubtlessly were. It’s not a new love, their glances, full of trust and tenderness, tell that. But the fascination of the other, that unquenchable desire for nearness that she believed to read in the body language of the two assured her that the couple was still in – as the girl called it – the carefree phase of love in which the world is defined by the other. What might he think when he meets her doe-like glance with his smile? What might she think, when she senses his breaths on her temple? The girl’s imagination began to weave the most romantic of all love stories about the two, as a quiet male voice tore the sensitive web of her thoughts.

“Are you sure?” – the woman nodded. “Not even the slightest doubt?” She nodded again.

Sure about what? What doubts? The tender web became the first irregularity, but what is it about? She is certain and there is not a single doubt! Neither she nor the expression on her face betrayed how this doubt-free fact could affect their togetherness for the better or worse! Now desperate, the girl searched in the doe-eyes of the woman the boundless happiness of a soon-to-be mother and in him the worries of a young man confronted by the shock of sudden fatherhood. It must be that! Now the innocence of their young love is vanished, now the realities of life begin! Sunk in deep regret over the loss of romantic in the fantasy picture she had so carefully built around the couple, the girl failed to notice the man who had joined the train at the last stop, though his glance wandered attentively between the girl and the couple. But the couple did not fail to notice him.

“What do you think,” he whispered in her ear, “will he talk to the girl?” The woman shook her head. “So you think he’s just looking at her because he’s bored, without any hidden intention?” She nodded. “No, I don’t believe it.” He didn’t give up. “He’ll talk to the girl and start flirting with her.” This idea coaxed an ironic smile from the woman, accompanied by an energetic nodding. “You have no sense for the romantic?” he finally gave up.

He whispered into his ear! The cooings of love, or even the plans for their future as a family? It could still become romantic, perhaps they have moved past the initial attraction and now they are ripened for the next development in their relationship? Sill the girl did not notice the eyes of the stranger, not even his presence. Wait a minute! The girl remembered the book still held between her hands. That’s how it was with Victoria and Antonio: the chance meeting - the girl was sure of it: that couple across from her had met each other through a coincidence, predetermined by destiny! – the romantic love crowned by a proposal of marriage just like in the movies, then the desired son and heir – Antonio was of course and Italian count – and everything would have been so lovely, if not for that unbelievably good-looking gardener… In that instant the girl noticed the stranger in the seat next to her. Already new strains spun into her web of fantasies, as once more the male voice she’d heard the first time drew her back from her imaginary world in to the real one.

„Is there nothing I can do to change your decision?“ A shake of her head caused him to stand up and reach for his suitcase. “How’d you like a night out in Berlin, with me?” he asked turning suddenly to the girl. The train lost momentum with the grinding screech of brakes, as the girl tried unclearly to articulate the answer screaming loud inside her: “Of course! I’d love to.” It was just like in the movies – shot through the girl’s mind, but disappointed by the unclear mumblings the man had already left the train. The girl reached for her bag and, suddenly regaining control of her voice, ran, tripping over the feet of the stranger, after the man and called after him “I have to get out here, too! Wait for me!”
The stranger picked up the book the girl dropped and left behind during her hasty departure. “The Storms of Love” he read the title aloud. A feminine hand took the book away and threw it energetically into the garbage canister under the window. “Hello stranger. Did you enjoy yourself?” “Wonderfully.” “Didn’t you want to get in here in Berlin?” “I thought I’d surprise you.”

24 March, 2006

Two Mothers

Why do I do this to myself? She fell back powerless against the seat while the little boy pressed his nose against the window saturated with greasy fingerprints. She closed her eyes - I don’t want to see it. If I see it I’ll have to tell him the glass is full of bacteria and that it could make him sick. I have no more energy for that. He doesn’t listen to me anyway. When did I actually give up? She felt a light kick and opened the eyes. Oh well, at least he took off the shoes before climbing onto the seat. All those lectures from last week, the week before, and the week before that did have some affect, left behind some kind of trace in that small, unimpressionable head.

I envy you! - she wanted to call to the mother with the lively child who sat in the seat across from her, but she said it only to herself. It was a joy to watch the curiosity with which the boy explored his surroundings, and even if he wasn’t traveling the first time with the subway, it was the first time in this wagon, on this seat, with these people. That was worth exploring up close… Bump! The boy jumped from the seat and fell into her lap, the hand of the mother immediately intercepting and pulling him back, while chiding the boy and apologizing to the woman.

I can’t look people in the eye anymore without seeing their accusations crashing in on me: “What a wild, misbehaved child!”, “He’s completely out of her control!” Somehow she slowly lost control as he began to walk and then to speak. Such a strong personality, such a bright mind - everyone was impressed, but she was the one who had to bear the daily struggles with him, listen to the complaints of the teachers at the nursery school. When had her proud eye for her child vanished in the depths of desperation? When had the hopes for the future turned to worries, and the worries to fear?

She must be rightly proud of her little boy, even if she does seem somewhat aggravated at the moment. That is the typical eye of the mother. How happy she would have been to trade her own worries and sadness with those of that mother. How happy she would have been to see her own daughter jumping and playing like that. But she not even smile… The little boy climbed onto the seat next to her and stared interested at her. As if he could read her thoughts he beamed suddenly at her, showing her all of his childlike charm. She beamed back at him, forgetting for one moment the gaze of her daughter staring into emptiness, into a world not open to her.

A loud and brief yell cut through the wagon. All heads turned, eyes searching for the cause, and found a pleased child who only wanted to see if the people sitting so uselessly and unmoving were real or just dolls. But his pleasure was tainted again by the hand of the mother reaching for him, and the boy sat again at the seat by the window.

I can’t go on, I just can’t go on. Maybe I’m a bad mother. Or maybe I’m just worrying too much. Aren’t all children like that? No, I don’t believe that. Why can’t I have a quiet child, a girl, sweet and friendly, uncomplicated, and not such a bundle of activity robbing me of my last spark of life-energy. She viewed the woman sitting across from her. That lucky woman, surely she has no children, no worries. She looks so at peace.

That was a wonderful yell, a pity that the mother doesn’t want to be happy about it. She thought of the quiet that ruled in her house, the picture pretty girl living there, but also somewhere else entirely, who hardly spoke and only occasionally, stepped slowly through the room, like an apparition, always returning to the same corner of her room. She could sit there for hours and look through books, slowly and regularly turning the pages, absent, almost ghostly.

It’s a shame I have to get off soon. I would have liked to get my fill of watching the boy, his joy of life, his energy and his curiosity, but most of all his smile, so real, so sincere - seeing one’s own child smile, that must be the meaning of life, and her daughter will probably never be able to smile. The invisible bubble that surrounds her allows no one near, wards off every attempt to get close to her, wards off every tender gesture, and not even the so often praised and idealized love of a mother is able to burst this bubble. The helplessness, that is what hurts the most.

Finally, we have to get off soon. I won’t have to blush at the stern looks of all those people. What am I doing wrong? Am I too strict or maybe too lenient? So many books, articles, and informational pamphlets read… And he’s still loud, almost always in motion, always as if in flight, as if he would only fly by this world and must at all costs see, experience and do everything… And not even their empathic, geared to children explanations, the untiring attempts to bring some peace into life, can stop this “flight.“ The helplessness, that is what disturbs the most.

15 February, 2006


I am glad to report that one of my stories posted below was published in the current edition of The Practically Creative Quarterly in the "Creations" section. It is the story "The Dread" - one of my favourites by the way. The illustrations were chosen by the editor and fit perfectly the mood of the story. That is why I reconsidered and desided not to illustrate my stories myself - I think they work better without it. This way there is more room for imagination.

30 January, 2006


He’s surely one of those gang kids, a graffiti-spraying, pot-smoking hoodlum, the way he’s dressed. She eyed the boy carefully, just taking the seat across from her, a wide, deep-sitting jeans, a t-shirt three sizes too big with a massive hand showing the middle finger, and perhaps - she couldn’t recognize exactly - his own head, closely shaved and wrapped in a cloth. A loser, obviously. She pulled her daily newspaper from her handbag. Why did they always have to put these naked women on the first page. She skillfully overlooked the hardly erotic, overbearingly primitive photo and devoted herself to the text under the half page long headline.

Shit! I’ll be too late! Why do I always have to bring her to nursery school? She always takes so long, but there’s something sweet about how she stops every few steps and notices things that I wouldn’t even see with a magnifying glass. “Why do the ants always march in a line?” “Does it hurt the leaves when they fall from the trees?” And the five extra dollars he received each month from his mother for taking care of his little sister and bringing her safely to nursery school each morning were very helpful. To be honest - even if he occasionally had to rush to not get to school too late - it was fun with the little girl, and he would have done it even without the extra money. But today was too much. Today of all days she had to make so much trouble, today, the day of the test - that stupid poem! He struggled to remember the words, “Who rides so late, through night and wind? / It is the father, with his child; / He has the young lad clasped in his arms, / He holds him securely, he holds him warm…”

What is he thinking about? The boy wouldn’t leave her alone. His presence made it impossible for her to concentrate on the scandal report in her newspaper. She’d hear about it anyway in all detail this afternoon drinking coffee with her neighbor. He looks so suspicious the way he wrinkles his brow and thinks so concentratedly! He’s surely up to no good. Hopefully he’s not thinking of taking my purse. She pressed the handbag of artificial leather close to herself, while crumbling the newspaper on her lap.

“My father, my father, can't you hear, / The promises the Erl King is whispering to me? / Be quiet, stay quiet, my child; / It's just the dry leaves rustling in the wind... the wind...” how does it go on “love you, your beautiful figure excites me...” no, wherever did I put that paper?

What’s he looking for so nervously in his bag: a can of spray paint, a knife, or something worse…? How many people are still in the wagon? She looked hastily behind her. Thank god. It’s too many. He wouldn’t stand a chance.

I’ve found it. So, what was it again? “Fine lad, will you come with me? / My daughters will tend to you; / My daughters will put you to bed every night, / And cuddle and sing and dance you to sleep.”…

Well, that was close. Just a crumbled piece of paper, luckily. That can’t do any harm. Unless he downloaded the instructions on how to build a bomb from the Internet. One reads about such things. Now where did I see that? That’s when she noticed the newspaper hadn’t stood up under the pressure of the handbag hugged against her breast, and had to surrender. Still holding the handbag tightly in her hand she tried to smooth out the newspaper and spread it flat again. Now where was that. I just read that here somewhere about the Internet and all the things one finds in it.

“He arrives at the farm with pain and distress. / In his arms, the child was dead.” Now that wasn’t so bad. That old Goethe guy isn’t as difficult as I had thought. But because of him I nearly missed my stop! He sprung up and with a few quick steps was by the door, which opened in the same moment through a light pressure.

My goodness. Why did he have to jump up like that. The shock has given me hiccups. But at least I’m glad he got out and will attack someone else, not me.

27 January, 2006