Misconception

“I won’t mention her to you,” he said, “I promise.” The smile he gave me genuine. He was convinced I was the lucky one for he was interested in me. After all, hadn’t I been the loyal friend to lure him into bed? The fact that he had just left his wife and now asked to move in with me a form of flattery for him, a sign of devotion not shared by me.

 

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Elsie and the Pig

For anyone who knew Elsie, the story I’m about to tell won’t come as a surprise. Elsie was hands-on, her clothes often covered in mud, her behavior boisterous at times. In her family, she was the quiet one, for everyone else, she was rather peculiar with a sense of humor bordering the crude. With a heart too sensitive for the outside world, she kept her feelings hidden behind a facade of I-don’t-care, her emotions aggressive whenever she feared someone threatened to expose her inner world.

Her stories always rather gory, her friends were used to hearing fables of lost limbs, wives celebrating their husbands’ deaths and infected dog bites. They didn’t flinch at pet names such as Ebola or Plague and had learned to laugh off her regular slurs. So one day, when Elsie started to tell one of her stories in a voice bubbling with suppressed rage, no one questioned the name she used to describe a beloved family member and that, in return, said a lot about Elsie’s friends themselves.

“Didn’t I tell you,” Elsie asked half annoyed. “She’s finally dead. I can’t believe how long it took her to finally call it quits.”

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Reflections on a Queen

Part II

“Come again,” he says, his eyes unfocused like his mind.

“Do you want Karen for the early shift or Thomas,” I fight hard not to sound annoyed for this is the third time I ask.

“What day are we talking about again?”

I breathe in deeply, faking a smile. “Monday,” I reply in a voice that surprises me myself. How on earth did I just manage to stay so friendly?

“Ah yes,” he shrugs. “I don’t know. Who else do we have?”

“Two shifts, two colleagues available,” I moan. Now there it is, my impatience in full bloom and I know my Medici glare is not far away.

“Right,” he agrees, his eyes squinted as if he’s trying hard to focus. Concentration it couldn’t be, because after 90 minutes into our meeting I know for certain he has none whatsoever, especially not today.

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Reflections on a Queen

Part I

“I don’t know,” my friend shrugs. She’s a fresh 22 and looks at life with much more cynicism than I did when I was her age. “I don’t see Catherine with any man. Somehow no one seems to fit her strength.”

I look at her for a moment, then nod, “I think I know what you mean.” And yet it feels strange to hear myself saying that, especially since my friend only recently told me how much I remind her of Catherine on occasion. So what does that say about me?

“She’s so self-sufficient,” my friend continues. “It feels odd to suddenly see her so vulnerable, so needy.”

“She isn’t needy,” I protest before I realize my friend has struck a chord. “She just wants to be loved.”

“Yes, maybe.” A laugh.

“And she deserves to be loved,” I argue with someone who I know is too young to understand the pain that lies in the realization that, by the end of the day, love is as rare a find as luck.

Requiem to a Dream

“Did you already stand in line to get tickets for the Berlinale?” Angus sits across from me, his eyes resting on mine with a casual smile.

I shake my head and sip on a fruity cocktail, waiting for the ice to freeze my brain. I’ve been thirsty coming to this place. The bagel shop on the second floor. The store next door is being renovated once again. Something always changes in Berlin and yet it strangely remains the same.

“Me either.” Angus glares at me with a look that leaves me guessing. He pauses, then sighs. The way his spikes an olive from our appetizer plate almost seems volatile. “Too many years have passed since I last won a Bear. No accreditation for me this year.”

I watch how he picks the olive from his toothpick, his lips glistening from the oily dressing. “I don’t know what it is with this film festival. Last year I was too ill to attend, the year before I was struggling to keep my job. Must be the season. I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything.”

“Berlin is gray in winter. They say the festival brings color to a dreadful season.” Angus picks another olive and chews on it.“No shopping for investors at the EFM this year?”

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Relapse

Minus five degrees outside, the train is packed. Tired people everywhere, worn out after a week of every-day gray. A drunkard sings and his voice isn’t even bad. Two girls with naked knees and ankles sit across from me. I feel old all of a sudden, wrapped in my down-filled coat and two layers of scarves. A child is whistling non-stop and I’m happy it’s not mine, that I do not have to come home to this now, a kid full of energy and life. Because all I want is a glass of wine and my couch. Two weeks back at work and that’s all I have in me, all that is left from my creative drive. So I switch it on, my favorite show inside my head, erasing the smell a beggar leaves as he passes the workhorses sitting beside me. The show my mind creates features me in the lead. Waves are crushing against a shore, the sun is shining. Call me a dreamer if you want, but my thoughts keep me alive as all I see are factory buildings and graffitied insults outside. So when I close my eyes, I nearly miss it, the stop that’s mine. But on the platform then the air awakens me, crisp and clear, and I enter a reality far from comfort as people push me down the stairs with them in lockstep. It’s strangely invigorating and phrases and pictures begin to invade my mind. How come I was so drained only moments ago and now my emotions lie bare to me in my thoughts? Take your pen, I’m telling myself, don’t question it. And so I do as I finally close my apartment door behind me. Three days without writing and I’m like a junkie craving her chocolate.

In the Closet

So there’s a mannequin in our closet at work. She has no head and wooden legs. Her body is white, her curves are womanly, not too skinny, just right. I want to take her home I’ve decided today. She Looks so lonely there, undressed, exposed to us in a way. How pretty my dresses would look on her. How much I’d like to invite her to a dance. That’s what I think when I see her. Now call me crazy, I don’t care.

Aftermath

And there she sat on her couch, slightly depressed in the aftermath of so much action. She hadn’t expected to get so emotionally involved. A women’s march, not her first and yet… So many familiar faces and new ones, too. Men, women and those still undecided at that. Dogs, little ones, flags and so many signs expressing what she felt. She didn’t have a sign at first, had gone there unprepared, overwhelmed by the crowd and cheers. So much energy without the hatred, just hope in her heart from the words surrounding her, the smiles on people’s faces. She had taken a sign after all, offered to her by a girl half her age. So many generations united, so many things to say but her voice had been relentless, stuck in her throat. Tears had come instead. Why she had cried, she still didn’t know as she now sat on her couch, her heart still elated while her mind was battling with the news of the day.

Twelve Days of Christmas

“Home?“ she asks and I look straight into her warm green eyes. A nod. “Okay.”

The road is sugar-coated and empty ahead of us, the wheels are digging through cushions of fresh snow. It’s Christmas time. The radio’s playing old-time favorites, country singers and 60s show stars. Flakes are dancing on the windshield, the sound is damped. I close my eyes, inhale her scent.

“How was Ontario?” Her voice cuts gently into the silence of my thoughts.

“Lonely.” I smile and rest my hand on hers. Her skin is soft, her nails are brittle. “Did you find a tree?”

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