In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Helen wakes up one morning with an atomized heart. A week later, she throws herself off a cliff. What caused her heart to self-destruct? Her on-and-off relationship with the odd Tom? The circumstances of a global crisis? Or the alleged accident that killed her neighbour Paul a few days ago?View More
It was the middle of the night. Completely dark: no moon, no stars. Or maybe there were. I should have been more attentive. Fog was everywhere. I felt the chill off it in every bone, and it hurt whenever I moved.I recognised him from my front door. It fell shut behind me: slowly, like in slow motion. The hinges squeaked, as if they were suffering, because the oil inside changes its viscosity in winter time. The door wasn’t yet closed, when my legs started running. Actually, I didn’t order them to run. I guess, it just happens as a reflex when the eyes detect distress on the horizon.Do you know what warm blood looks like in the freezing cold, when there's suddenly so much of it? Actually, you should, given your profession. It steams. A bit like manhole covers in winter, and if it’s pitch dark around you it looks like the
Andi has always had responsibilities. When he was five years old, he had a hamster. A couple of cats, when he was ten. They mated, and had kittens. At 16, he had a dog. His first relationship came late: you’d want to be ready for it.Back then he thought it would last forever, but now at 45 he is on his own. Not in order to avoid responsibility, quite the opposite, in fact. There just doesn't seem to be a lid for his pot, in the shallow world outside his window.He is alone, but has rarely ever felt lonely. That is: until last year. His hunger for responsibility was one of the reasons why he joined the police at 22, and for the same reason, he had to quit the job at 44. Ground for dismissal: commitment to the Basic Law. They’ve sworn an oath to it, but unlike him, the others have apparently grown tired of theirs, which was why he got suspended.
Andi’s gentle eyes are wide open. He didn’t expect to see Helen ever again: not after the protest he dragged her to, six months ago. Everything thereafter made things even worse. He is no longer a policeman, and therefore: all the more surprised to see her at his door. Past midnight, in this state, and on Benji's side, who shouldn’t be here at all, but at home, dreaming of a future.‘Jesus!’ it sputters from Andi's lips.Helen is dripping with water, and cold. The freezing cold has her shivering, like autumn-leaves. Maybe she can't even speak. Her teeth are clattering louder than hooves, when Andi takes a step to the side to invite her in: to the flickering fire in his parlor, where the warm flames draw dancing shadows on the walls, and the cracking wood in the stove would drown out the entire world. “Tom Roehn confessed.’Annika looks at the policemen in silence. After those words, it’s perfectly quiet. On the opposite side of the fence, the snowdrift has stopped its drift, and is now only snow: white, and cold. She feels guilty. For not responding, and letting the officers down. To her, they look disappointed.Should she fling her arms around their necks? Shake their cold hands? Perhaps shower them with kisses? Even a ‘thank you’ would sound strange, because the truth isn’t a gift. Annika has never asked for it, and might be better off now, if they had kept it to themselves.What do you do with the truth? Does it have a purpose? Or do you merely receive it, take it to the attic, and bury it underneath old photos, in the creaking drawer of a dusty shelf, where you forget it u
As the moon began to rust THE OTHERS
“Tom Roehn confessed.’Annika looks at the policemen in silence. After those words, it’s perfectly quiet. On the opposite side of the fence, the snowdrift has stopped its drift, and is now only snow: white, and cold. She feels guilty. For not responding, and letting the officers down. To her, they look disappointed.Should she fling her arms around their necks? Shake their cold hands? Perhaps shower them with kisses? Even a ‘thank you’ would sound strange, because the truth isn’t a gift. Annika has never asked for it, and might be better off now, if they had kept it to themselves.What do you do with the truth? Does it have a purpose? Or do you merely receive it, take it to the attic, and bury it underneath old photos, in the creaking drawer of a dusty shelf, where you forget it u
Actually, she should be screaming now. Just like she always would when she came by, and then he’d wish she’d stop, but until just now he’d had no idea how much worse her silence felt, and - Jesus Christ - the sheer horror that was deforming her face, like age, a butt.Maybe Tom shouldn't have told her any of it. Usually he waited for things to work themselves out. Even this thing now could still go away. By a phone call, welcoming him on reality TV, through a comet that puts the world to ashes, or by a UFO landing on his roof. Given the way his ex kept looking into his eyes, he’d have preferred the latter. She wasn’t as beautiful as he remembered her. Now she didn't look like anyone he would ever love, and certainly not like someone who had ever loved him.Like a disaster movie put on silent. The suspense is still there, and so is
What the news would say in the morning every day. Everything that would be talked about on the open road out loud. What his family had seen of it: divorces, deaths, and everything that strangers drowned in brown whiskey around 3 am. Tom hadn’t heard much more than this about the world. He’d hardly seen more of it than what was visible from right where he was at, and none of what he had seen had ever made him want to discover any more.To be honest, the world sounded terrible. Maybe even worse than hell. At least, by the time you go there, you're already dead.‘It's a pile of shit, this world,’ his father used to tell him when he was growing up, and his mother would only nod. ‘A stinking swamp, and if you're not careful it will swallow a baby like you in one piece.’S
The past year shrunk the world. In the hot wash, and to be honest, washing it had been a bad idea, all along. It should have gotten trashed, instead, given the dirt it had accumulated.Especially Tom's world. It had been feeling rotten for as long as he could think, and it wasn't due to the rank kitchen, not to empty bottles in the hall, and neither to the floors that a cat which didn’t live for long had at some stage peed upon. It was due to himself.Sundays which were actually Mondays. Tuesdays which would feel like Fridays, and Wednesdays that could have just as well been Saturdays. They were all the same. Except for Thursdays. Thursday was usually different, because he would sometimes take responsibility then, and see his son.Except for that, nothing ever happened in his world. Only unimportant things tha
How did you damage your car? What happened to your face? Did you have an accident? Where were you at 3 am on Sunday morning? Were you under the influence? Drugs or alcohol? Have you ever been to Master Alley before?Flies took off. In breach of social distancing regulations and speed limits, they crashed in front of the tarnished windows. A fatal accident right above Tom’s window sill. Seconds later they were hailing down, dead, and Tom was wondering why no one cared about it. Neither one of the policemen outside his open door.Wouldn’t that be their job? Weren’t they supposed to take care of misfortunes? Such as the flies that had suddenly stopped flying?Tom didn't like change: not even the smallest. Disappointed, he kept staring at their suddenly useless wings, as silent as the gr
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