3/1/15

Screens. A collection of very short stories - 4

4

After her working day, Barbara was in no mood for a chat. Still, she answered the phone when she saw it was her mother calling. Stifling a sigh, she said, “Hey mom. How are you?”
“Hello, dear. I’m fine. Just wanted to let you know I’m back home.”
Barbara poured herself a glass of Chardonnay and settled on the cherry-coloured Bespoke sofa in the living room. She listened dutifully to her mother talking about her stay in London: the concert in the Royal Albert Hall, the stroll through St. James’s Park with subsequent tea and scones in the “Inn The Park” café, the crowd, the noise, and Selina’s cats were fine, it seemed.
“I hope you pulled out the key when you left, mom!” Barbara finally interrupted her mother’s detailed account.
“Dear me, yes! I checked twice before heading for the train station!”
“Good. We don’t want Selina to come back from Berlin and discover someone has emptied her flat thanks to her gran, do we?”
Her mother gasped with horror at the mere thought. Barbara had a minute’s respite to sip her wine. Then, her mother started to prattle about all the kitchen items Selina had apparently purchased. “Selina’s become a neat and clean young lady, let me tell you, Barbara! And so nitty-gritty! If I didn’t know it, I wouldn’t believe she’s your daughter.”
“Nitty-gritty? Selina?” Barbara laughed despite herself. “How’s that?”
“Well, for instance, she’s put that modern cutting board right next to her bread bin in the kitchen. Very handy, I daresay, when one wants to prepare a sandwich—”
After five minutes, Barbara decided she’d invent a stew she needed to stir, kissed her mother good-bye and finally leant back, closing her eyes and enjoying her Chardonnay.
The wine was chilled just to perfection.
Selina called the next morning. “Hi mom! Back from Berlin!” she panted. “We landed at 3 a.m., and now I’m on my way to work… Running as we speak, in fact. ‘Roll on bedtime’ is all I can say.”
“Nice of you to call, however. Enjoyed Berlin?”
“Awesome, mom! Will send you snapshots from my iPhone when I’m in the tube, okay?”
“Alright, darling. Everything’s okay with your flat?”
“Yes. Granny’s been a darling! Even emptied the dish-washer before leaving. Oddly enough, however, she left plenty of bread crumbs on my iPad in the kitchen…”

2/9/15

Screens. A collection of very short stories - 3

3

After her working day, Barbara was in no mood for a chat. Still, she answered the phone when she saw it was her mother calling. Stifling a sigh, she said, “Hey mom. How are you?”
“Hello, dear. I’m fine. Just wanted to let you know I’m back home.”
Barbara poured herself a glass of Chardonnay and settled on the cherry-coloured Bespoke sofa in the living room. She listened dutifully to her mother talking about her stay in London: the concert in the Royal Albert Hall, the stroll through St. James’s Park with subsequent tea and scones in the “Inn The Park” café, the crowd, the noise, and Selina’s cats were fine, it seemed.
“I hope you pulled out the key when you left, mom!” Barbara finally interrupted her mother’s detailed account.
“Dear me, yes! I checked twice before heading for the train station!”
“Good. We don’t want Selina to come back from Berlin and discover someone has emptied her flat thanks to her gran, do we?”
Her mother gasped with horror at the mere thought. Barbara had a minute’s respite to sip her wine. Then, her mother started to prattle about all the kitchen items Selina had apparently purchased. “Selina’s become a neat and clean young lady, let me tell you, Barbara! And so nitty-gritty! If I didn’t know it, I wouldn’t believe she’s your daughter.”
“Nitty-gritty? Selina?” Barbara laughed despite herself. “How’s that?”
“Well, for instance, she’s put that modern cutting board right next to her bread bin in the kitchen. Very handy, I daresay, when one wants to prepare a sandwich—”
After five minutes, Barbara decided she’d invent a stew she needed to stir, kissed her mother good-bye and finally leant back, closing her eyes and enjoying her Chardonnay.
The wine was chilled just to perfection.
Selina called the next morning. “Hi mom! Back from Berlin!” she panted. “We landed at 3 a.m., and now I’m on my way to work… Running as we speak, in fact. ‘Roll on bedtime’ is all I can say.”
“Nice of you to call, however. Enjoyed Berlin?”
“Awesome, mom! Will send you snapshots from my iPhone when I’m in the tube, okay?”
“Alright, darling. Everything’s okay with your flat?”
“Yes. Granny’s been a darling! Even emptied the dish-washer before leaving. Oddly enough, however, she left plenty of bread crumbs on my iPad in the kitchen…”

2/2/15

Screens. A collection of very short stories - 2

2

It happened during the “Beneful”-ad. Without a warning Donna announced, “Look how cute they are! I wanna have a dog, hun!”
Leeroy was just pitching into the family-sized pack of “Lays Jalapeño Kettle Chips” on his lap. A noisy business so he wasn’t sure he’d heard her right. He craned his porky neck to glance sideways at his wife.
Donna, munching Oreos, was still staring at the screen, mesmerized.
Leeroy relaxed, scooping another handful of chips into his mouth and concentrating on the commercials again. The puppies disappeared, a beautiful blonde woman began to slow-mo-toss her shiny mane from side to side, close to ecstasy. Lordie, gal, I’d luvta give ya reel ecstasy! Leeroy thought and stuck his hand in the pack again.
Donna turned to look at him. There was chocolate on her chin. “Leeroy— why dontcha get me a dog?” she asked with that whiny-shrill overtone Leeroy loathed more than Saturday shopping. Her double chin was quivering with indignation.
“What for?” he asked back.
“Why, coz they’re cute!”
“Never heardcha say that ‘bout the Lannister pooch down the road, D.”
“Aw Leeee-roy! Coz the Lannister pooch is plain yukky!
Leeroy scratched his balding head, daubing it with fat and salt and jalapeño powder in the process. “If I getcha that dog, D—who’s gonna walk it every day, huh? Coz I won’t do it, missus, no way!”
It took Donna a whole two minutes, podgy forefinger pressed to her lip, before she came to a conclusion. At last she conceded, “Ya right, hun. A dog's a whole lotta work. Let’s get a hamster instead!”

1/27/15

Screens. A collection of very short stories - 1

1

To anyone standing on the threshold of the living room, Mildred would have looked peaceful. Maybe because the worn-out brown corduroy couch on which she was lying stood in the far corner. Maybe because all the shutters of her small house were closed, and only the TV and the 15.6” Toshiba laptop gave off some sallow light.
That’s the advantage of a remote position and dim lighting. Sordid details remain hidden. Like the greasy stains on Mildred’s faded pink tracksuit, for instance, or the crumbs littering the couch as well as the floor around the coffee table, or the half-eaten take-out pizza next to the 20 oz. Coca Cola tumbler. Distance and dim lighting make any reality seem swell.
But to Sergeant O’Leary, Mildred didn’t look peaceful at all. When he bent over to take her pulse—not that he needed any proof, but he had to follow the procedure—, he noticed that she rather wore a shocked expression. There was surprise, of course, and anguish. With a hint of indignation and disappointment, maybe.
Sergeant O’Leary didn’t know—and wouldn’t have cared anyway—that Mildred looked as disgusted as she had in 2004, when her whole life had suddenly lost its purpose on May 6. He didn’t know that she had barely budged from that very same couch ever since.
After the coroner had finished his exam and the undertakers zipped up Mildred’s body in black plastic, the sergeant set about to switch off her laptop. He realized she’d been visiting the Facebook-page of “Friends”. The window of the last post she’d published was still open.
“My chest hurts I’m dying”, she had typed.
Gleaning 261 Likes.

1/15/15

Charlotte sometimes

and sometimes, Charlotte, sometimes
I dream of Zanzibar,
and my pillow smells of cloves,
of nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper,
around me rooms, large and bare,
and raffia rugs tickle my feet

my dream, Charlotte, feels like
your pink silk dressing gown
and wears your fragrance
even when I dream that I taste salt
on your white face,
the salt of tidy breezes
and your enslaving tears

and then, Charlotte, you’re gone,
and I am wandering, alone,
through narrow, empty streets,
a ghost in a deserted Stone Town,
I pass before withered houses,
their blue paint peeling off the walls,
I pass before the House of Wonders,
half-crumbling now, like our hopes

and sometimes, Charlotte, sometimes
I long for those monsoon afternoons
when we had tea and watched
brave butterflies rise up
from our sandy beach
into the heavy rain, the black clouds,
they looked like white and yellow,
golden, green and red dots
of a tale we still had to invent