Screens. A collection of very short stories - 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.


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


Je suis Charlie

This is not a religion.
Their arsenal of mass destruction:
pencils, crayons, watercolours.

They aimed them at politicians
and priests who know it all,
at rabbis, imams, vicars,
at puffed-up, loaded businessmen,
narcissistic mayfly starlets,
prophets and messiahs.

Their job was to mock those
who want to prevent us from using our brains. 
Against the narrowminded
they brandished satire, wit, freedom of speech.
Paper bullets.
How many killed,
how many injured by their deeds?

“I’d rather die standing
than live on my knees”,
one of them said.

His lethal error was to blank out
that you can’t vanquish humourlessness
with humour.
With drawings you can fight
but not someone
pulling the trigger of his

"Should we fight for our ideas;
or should we fight with our ideas?"
Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

Paris 2015-01-07 
For the journalists of the satirical weekly "Charlie Hebdo" 
killed today by two terrorists. RIP.