Nothing

Nothing

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The metro reeks of sweat and wet dog.

Her expression is empty.

It always is. Holding that old crutch of hers, she walks. She walks slowly, and looks miserable too. But that isn’t hard with those exposed, burnt and broken legs of hers.

“A cripple has nothing to lose,” her father says so, before burning her. He says it, before he breaks her ankle and knee. First her right leg, then the left. 

She stretches out a hand, hovering in front of her, like a small cloud over a desert; white and calm, waiting to dissolve into the blue of space. She doesn’t look at the faces. People are easily annoyed. No eye contact. That’s the rule. 

There is nothing to see. She tells herself. Although… There is something worth looking at, maybe even staring at.

She feels the eyes stabbing at her. It makes her want to puke, right on the shoes of everyone. She has seen it, so many times – the thing she refuses to acknowledge: disgust, and pity. What a hateful thing to show her!

The pang of regret she can handle, maybe the glow of relief in their eyes too… Truly. She hates the naked gladness. They do not have to share her fate… Their ease, when she hobbles away.

There is nothing to see. No bother, she won’t look. She breathes.  

In.  

Out.

Three seconds.

After that, she turns to the next person. Still begging with her free hand. Repeating, carefully pronounced: “Danke schön,” and the pleading, “Bitte. Hilfe,” the best she can. She concentrates to pronounce the german words in the proper order. No slurring, no biting off syllables. The metro shakes violently, throwing her off balance.

A big hand grabs her under her armpit. She dares not move. It pulls her up. She dares not look. The grip tightens. It’s her guard, pulling her to her feet. A fat man, smelling of onion, beer and cigarettes, who can beat her to death, without remorse. 

In fact, he guards the money, not her. He leans on one of her crutches. He scratches his back with it, beats stray dogs and homeless people, beats her too. Tool and weapon.

The only good thing about being a cripple, not one man bothers her in bed. The only thing she thanks her father for. Men are disgusted by her looks. No one touches her burnt lower back, her burnt and bent legs.

They look away.

Everybody does.

Even she looks away.

Home floats back into her head. Dreams of her family occur from time to time. Mum and her little brothers dig into the familiar pain. Her knees and ankles wobble. She’s back in the hut. The stench of the abandoned dump is everywhere. Mum makes a fire and white smoke billows in. She sits in her cracked plastic chair, at the mouth of the hut. Her legs hide under a winter coat. She peels potatoes, and her brothers shout and scream. They hit each other with sticks, pretending they wield swords. 

This is where the dream takes a bad turn.

Father comes home, and he is not alone. A shiny white Hummer rolls into view, golden hub caps blinding. Father, uncle and a stranger. Mum is somewhere behind the hut, or climbing the dump for scraps. The pot bellied stranger has a golden watch on his wrist. He smiles a lot. No, that is not a smile. He bares his teeth. The men talk and laugh. 

“You don’t need to peel those potatoes anymore,” the stranger says warmly. “We are going on an adventure now!” He is the only one sober.

Mum’s voice is behind the hut, low and urgent. Father screams. “Know your place!” A loud slap. “Bitch!” Sobbing.

“You know.” The stranger squats down beside her. “You are a smart girl. If you come with me, you will make money. A lot of money. More than you can imagine. You can do with it, what you want. Maybe send it home? To your mother? So she doesn’t have to work so hard.” The stranger’s eyes lock on hers.

She nods.

Mum needs help. He’s right. In her state, the best she can do, is to go with the man. Earning money. What a dream!  He even helps her into his car, buckles her up. Then she turns around to look back. She wants to wave mum good-bye. She’s not there. At the entrance of their hut, father and uncle smile and wave at her.

Earning money… What a nightmare!

Next week, she turns fourteen. If police shows up… Jail waits for her. But that’s not important.  

After all, cripple has nothing to lose.


Image: A public display  of Shame: Prague’s beggars, by Miriam Rosseau

the lion roars (2)

the lion roars (2)

PART 1 – LIQUID PEACE


PART 2

PATIENT PAPER 

 

The police station was accommodated in an old building, a school from the 19th century.

It took me three hours to get anywhere near Benny.

They had me fill out seven forms, both sides, all identical. The policeman in charge ripped two forms apart, and I had to start again. “Hand slipped.” His comment slapped my ears. This was nothing but mile high harassment. I knew it. The police man knew it, and I tried not to get too angry.

Then they had me write down what happened from the phone call on, till now.

Time delaying tactics. Maybe they searched and bugged my apartment right about now. They must have turned Benny’s upside down already.

 I tried to remember, if there was anything suspicious in my flat, something that could get me in jail.

Nothing to hide…

No political literature, beside what was permitted and encouraged. Some family photos, but I’m the only one left alive, so no danger on that end. No newspapers or magazines, no radio – lucky me. Only cigarettes, coffee and booze and dirty laundry.

Continue reading “the lion roars (2)”

the lion roars (1)

the lion roars (1)
Part 2 - PATIENT PAPER

 

PART 1

LIQUID PEACE

The gutter dripped and the rain drops rapped hard on the kitchen window. My eyes were already open. The bedsheets felt cold and damp. The shutters in the living room rattled with the wind gusts.  I’ve been staring at the dark ceiling for nearly three hours. I sat up. Sleep was busy somewhere else.

Another rotten night. Continue reading “the lion roars (1)”

a record keeper

WHY I WRITE – a Chuck Wendig prompt

I fell in love with stories.

It hit me one day, without warning.

I remember it perfectly. I was about eight years old, and it was a rainy afternoon in November. Outside, everything was washed grey, silhouettes started dissolving into the murky atmosphere. Dust washed away with dirt water… Even the sunlight through the rain clouded more than it revealed.

Somehow, everything about my childhood seems grey, hollow and vague. I grew up in a socialistic land on the brink of revolution, and its aftermath. Nothing was like it ment to be…

That day, I stood at the balcony door and stared out into the rain. Below, people were busily running around, surviving the strains of everyday life. I thought of my everyday life, and I didn’t like the pictures forming in my mind. I hated my everyday life. The ink stains on my thumb fore- and middle finger itched. I saw no differences, no contrasts, just boundaries and limitations.

That cursed moment I felt my heart bursting with anger, fear and frustration. There was no way I could escape that grayness around me; in me… No matter how far I went, what I did, it won’t rub off. Ever. It was etched under my skin, in the tone of my words, it was the background noise of my dreams. That special kind of grey, it will always be part of me. It will always stay there, dulling my senses, my thoughts, my emotions.

I was lost.

The pain of swallowed glass shards and strung heart kept me company for a quite a few years after that day.

I started writing. That day, I started writing a little story. I don’t remember it any more, only the ruled paper and the unevenly scribbled sentences stretching from one end of the line to the other, in purplish ink.

Something happened. In that domineering conformity of grey, the paper seemed glowing snow white, although I soiled it with my pen. It was different. It was new. It was; I was dumbstruck.

I felt the lash of a whip over my head, a cracking thunder, or  maybe a sudden notion of meaning (though I never had the right words for that, just an overwhelming pull to the Inside-of-whatever-that-Was). I remember how desperate I was, not knowing what to do, or who to tell. What was going on? What happened to me? I kept wondering, how long this state would last. What should it mean to me? Wrecking my brain for a solution, for any solution, I got none…

Thinking back, I’m convinced that something important hid itself. Something that mattered and still matters to me, I guess. But like all (really) important things, it’s invisible, untouchable, not tastable, not audible… I know it’s there, it pulls me.

It still plays hide and seek with me. It makes me crazy! It is on the tip of my tongue, and I´m not able to reveal it to the world, nor to myself. I dubbed it my core, my everything, my love, my dream.

The struggle began: I wrote, it ran through my fingers like sand. I wrote, it changed shape. I wrote, it dissolved into thin air.

So I wrote…

With time, I´ve achieved tools of revelation : words, languages, pictures, stories. In that sensible time of my life, I fell for stories. I truly did, as soon, as I realized, they ment freedom, they were my escape route. I was so happy, that I could explore the infinite silhouette of That-which-refuses-to-show-Itself…

You know, the wonderful thing about stories is, that they manage to still my hunger, my anger, my anxiety. Which is pretty impressive, I can tell you that!

I´m not sure if I have a style, or talent of any kind. I´m not sure, if I´m even good at what I´m doing, nor that I´m ment to have success with it. But that is not the point. What I do, I need to do. I´ve got a regular job, which keeps my brain distracted from this obsession. It distracts me from my tracks and fakes my needs. It holds up my hunt. Frustrating that is, being caged up like this… I´m a physician. I have to help others.

Can´t wait that others will help me one day, cause that´s not happening. Never does. Writing is my own medicine. Storytelling is my doctor. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me happy and… sane. Yes, I know, it sounds pathetic – it’s therapy.

As it is, it helps me to observe ´n recognize, what I´m not able to see under my own power.

I don´t think, I´m a writer, or artist. There is no art in what I´m doing. I´m only recording, what´s happening inside… I may not be a good record keeper either, but I try. So my writing is more a documentary work. It is proof, that I exist… Somehow…

Does this make any sense? I don´t know.

thoughts on shuffle

IMG_3447There are places, which make me stop and think for a while. 

I’ll be more precise.

The feeling they give me, makes me stop. Suddenly I have not enough breath in my lungs and my feet stretch to touch the core of the planet. A weird kind of buzzing fills the space between my ears…

I’ve been here before, haven’t I?

And then I’m empty. It is some kind of blankness. A cold sensation in my stomach. I start to doubt that I’m hermetically locked into my skin. For a moment I’m sure there is a hole somewhere. Something ripped through me, and I didn’t notice. I’m leaking. Or maybe the world is seeping into me. I know it will squeeze me into my every pore, into every wrinkle of my being, pushing me to the outer rim of what uses to me be…

Movement stops.

I fall.

At least, I think it is some kind of falling sensation. A random plummeting to the ground. Downward sucking notion, but without the wet kissing thud at the end. Without hitting any surfaces, without the crashing and breaking, without the impact… Just falling. 

In those moment – I have hope. Hope to find my purpose, my place in the world I inhabit. The hunch I need to grasp the meaning behind all this…being-human thing. It is almost a fully formed thought, a nearly recognized feeling.

I have been here before, haven’t I? 

Isn’t it ironic? I can’t seem to realize it…

“That’s a lot of blood!”

Alec’s remark falls from my shoulder.

“Stop motivating the bleeding,” I tell him. “Be more helpful. Here, hold this. Stop shaking. Just hold it, with two fingers. Ok?” I guide his fingers around the sereffine. Luckily he has surgical gloves on.

We’re on the right track. I’m nearly done, only the skin suture left to be done. I did a rather good job. Nothing fancy, still enough left to do a patch-up.

I take the sereffine back,  and sling the suture material around it. Tightening it once, twice, just to be sure a third time too. The sereffine comes off. “There. See? No more blood.” I state and finish the work.

flashbacks

Why is it, that suddenly everything starts to gravitate towards the edge?
Those jagged edges of the you-shaped hole chew away my reality.

I let my fingers, thoughts and heart brush over it. Just to be sure, it is there. I’m not imagining it. Not imagining you.

Sharp. I cut myself remembering you. Missing you… Returning to the same spot. Hurting again.

Sometimes it’s a cracking sound, sometimes a wet ripping… Sometimes the gut twisting silence I’m forced to listen to.

And then… What a relief! There you are! Behind my eyelids. You move. Somewhere. Somewhere far away. You stir. The perfume of your skin, your lips and that wicked happy-to-deadly smile flash back, blind me.  Freeze me. Stop me. Stop my time. That smile…

It burns.

Why is it, that your pull influences my days and nights, my every dusk and dawn?

Why can’t I sleep? Not in our bed, only cramped on the sofa or at the dining table?

The emptiness beside me rips me into waking. Drags me back into the cold and the light… Another day…

Why is it, that I dream of the touch of your fingertips? That I phantasize your movements, next to me, under the sheets… Your breathing… Why can’t it be otherwise? My life… Only without you.

Still.

Your sweet humming and singing keeps me company. In my head, your voice comments and laughs, as if amused; points out the little details you used to notice…

Why must I …

Why can’t I move on?