Tag Archives: party

Blackout

They kicked the front door in, screaming for me to get down.

Only when one of the officers turned me over and pulled my arms behind my back, only then, with my face shoved into the pillow, did I feel the massive headache.

They were pulling me out of our studio and when we were on the stairs I finally woke up enough to turn and shout for Reana to wait, that I would come back, that it must all be some mistake. In about the same moment an officer said that it was no mistake while I realized that Reana wasn’t in the room.

I’m trying to reconstruct it all, I tried in those four hours of questioning, and I’m still trying. But there’s nothing to reconstruct. But there’s nothing in my mind to reconstruct. We were on the couch, watching TV and waiting for the fireworks shows. She was cuddled up against my chest and had a blanket wrapped over her feet. We were speaking the countdown together with the announcer on TV. There were the first fireworks. We raised our champagne glasses – and then all is just blank. Or maybe rather black. It’s a black curtain that’s blocking me from my own memories.

I didn’t drink any alcohol before midnight. I don’t even remember drinking the champagne, but they still found a blood alcohol level of 0.2 % – in my body, not in hers. Continue reading

Sweat House

Trigger warning!



I can’t understand it. I never will. Why? And why me?

And why my sister?

He shook my hand with a sweaty group of sausages. He smiled and said his name and even in that short moment of meeting him, with two steps of distance between our bodies and his thick and soft fingers in my hand, I noticed the smell.

From that day on it was always there. I walked past his nodding face behind the reception desk, unsure whether to breathe in deeply or to hold my breath. It was not something that made me jump out of my shoes, but it made my nose itch and my feet sweat. The smell was musky but light, intruding and penetrating but relaxing and, even as that is hard to admit, arousing. Continue reading

Fresh Luck to Its Owner

I last saw it sixteen years ago, still remember every detail of the watch.

I was on a road trip with friends. I don’t remember the city name; we just stopped because the bars looked inviting and, I think, because we saw a group of slightly underdressed girls walking into one of them.

A round of drinks; dance; a round; trying to chat up girls. It was a good night. One of the guys hit it off with a local girl in a short black dress; the rest of us watched from the safety of the bar. A horribly smelling guy walked past us. Somebody bought a round of tequila. I licked the salt; poured the hot and cold liquid down my throat; bit the lime. That’s where my memory ends.

I woke up at the side of a road. The hard sand below me was as dry as my throat. Continue reading

Old Smoke and New Fire

It was summer when I met Naomi. We were at the barbeque of a mutual friend and she wore a yellow summer dress with blue details and smiled while she talked.

I don’t remember who introduced us; probably it was the host or maybe the host’s girlfriend-of-the-day. Naomi laughed when she said her name – and she laughed louder when I forgot it for the second time and she introduced herself for a third time. “Na-o-mee.” She pointed at herself while pronouncing the “mee.” Then she laughed again.

That day it was normal; that day I expected everyone to smell of barbeque smoke.

Only a week later we met for the second time. It was a random encounter at a far-too-common coffee franchise. She wore a white dress that danced around her body while she walked.

That day we arranged to meet for a lunch; since then we have been friends; just friends. I admit there was a spark, but we have never been more than that. We were both in relationships at the time, and by the time those ended our friendship had grown too comfortable. Somehow the spark disappeared and only the joy of spending time with each other remained.

That day, in the coffee shop, I noticed the smoky smell again. I made a joke about her addiction to barbeques and again she laughed with this inviting, all-encompassing laugh that makes everybody want to hear the joke.

All that was two years ago. Our friendship remained, and so did our regular meet-ups over coffee or lunch. Usually monotony bores me; regular meetings with the same regular people become draining and exhausting. With Naomi things are different. I think it’s because her smile is genuine, and so is her laugh – genuine, honest, fresh. Genuine smiles and laughs and conversations don’t get boring.

For a while I told myself that the smell was just my imagination – an olfactory memory of the day we met; an association that my mind replayed every time I saw her face and her smile. But there was no repeating memory for the perfumes she wore or the foods she ate. The only memory that returned every time I met Naomi was the faint smell of old smoke.

I never dared to ask her about it. There is something insulting about telling a woman that she always smells of smoke – or any other thing. Of course, on the one hand a friend deserves honesty and bluntness, but on the other a friend ought to protect a friend, not make her self-conscious about a smell that is either just in the friend’s head or that she is already aware of and tries to ignore.

The smoky smell was faint, and I have always been a particularly smell-conscious person. I told myself that probably nobody else noticed it; certainly no one else ever mentioned it. Naomi’s strong perfumes usually covered most of the scent anyway.

Whenever we hugged hello or goodbye, or when we sat or stood next to each other for a while; that’s when it was hard for me to ignore the smell. It was like the common joke– “Now you are aware of your breathing.” – From the moment you hear or read the sentence it is hard to not feel your own heaving chest or the cold air moving through your nose and the back of your throat.

I learned many things about Naomi: why she had tried to learn sitar (too many Bollywood movies), the way she had become vegetarian (on a trip to France she became friends with a cow that later ended up on her plate) and even that she thought the size of a man’s heart and the way he valued his woman’s pleasure was more important than the size of the probably most size-compared object in the world.

The only thing Naomi never spoke about was her family. I knew that she left home with sixteen and that her mother had had an accident, but not much more.

Last Friday, when Naomi pressed a gin and tonic in my hand to celebrate a pay rise, I finally asked.

“I don’t talk about that.” She said.

“Why not?”

“Because my family believes we are cursed. That’s why I left home.”

“They actually believe you are cursed?”

“I really don’t want to talk about it.” Naomi said. “Let’s just say the gist is that supposedly all women in my family are cursed. We will all die in a fire.”

“As in ‘burn to death’?” I asked.

“Something like that.” She said. “And my grandma used to say that there is a sign for it, that you can smell it on our bodies.”

“Just like you smell a bit of smoke?” I asked and immediately felt like sewing my mouth shut with a hot needle. Naomi stared at me with her eyes and mouth wide open.

She hesitated.

“You can smell it?” She asked.

I bit my lip.

“Yes.” I said. “You smell a bit like old smoke.”

In the end we did talk about her family.

Naomi’s maternal grandparents had fled their home country. Naomi was never told why, but she thought it had something to do with their superstition.

It was hard on Naomi when her dad left. At the time she was only nine. That her dad left was hard on her, not just because he always made Naomi feel safe and protected her from her overbearing mother, but also because it was shortly after her grandmother’s death.

Naomi didn’t meet her grandmother very often, but when she was told that her grandmother had died Naomi cried for a long time; then she cried again at the funeral. At home, after the funeral she locked herself in her room and then cried more. But this time she cried because of the fight outside her room; the angry shouting of her father, the furious insults and pleas to “think of Naomi” voiced by her mother.

There were three such nights of fighting. Naomi stayed in her room most of these days. She played loud music so that she wouldn’t have to hear the words being spat. Still she remembers part of the fight:

“It was an accident.” Shouted her mother.

“I don’t care.” Shouted her father. “I don’t want my children to die like that.”

The next day his part of the wardrobe was empty. A year later he had a new wife – and two years after that he had twins. He sent Naomi photos and gifts and talked to her on the phone, but he never allowed her to visit.

When her grandmother died Naomi was told it was an accident; something had gone wrong in the kitchen. She was young and didn’t want to know any details, and her mother was careful not to say any more. Naomi was only nine; she didn’t understand the significance of a closed casket.

Her mother found a new partner, one she never married but with whom she had a son. Naomi felt they preferred her brother over her.

When Aunt Iris died Naomi was 14. Again nobody told Naomi how her aunt died, but while she listened to a funeral speech about pain as the path to redemption Naomi stared at the dark wood of the casket and tried to imagine what her Aunt Iris’s body might look like. With 14 she understood the meaning of a closed casket.

After Iris’s death Naomi got close to her cousin Cassandra. They talked nearly every day on the phone and met every few weeks. Naomi was even invited to Cassandra’s 18th birthday party. Naomi made a card for Cassandra and gave her heart-shaped chocolate.

Not even a week after the party, about a year after Iris’s death, Cassandra stopped calling. Naomi and her mother heard only three days later what happened. Cassandra had been in her bedroom. A problem in the electrical wiring. The fire killed her and three others.

Naomi’s mother didn’t allow her to go to Cassandra’s funeral. She said it would bring bad luck. Naomi never forgave her for that.

For her sixteenth birthday Naomi refused to have a party. Her mother insisted. She said that they should “seem normal.”

At five in the morning Naomi carried her packed suitcase downstairs, collected her shoes and coats and left. That day, while pulling her full suitcase out of the front door, Naomi stopped being angry at her father. That day she finally understood why he had broken her heart.

While she told me about her past, the glass long empty in her hand, Naomi wasn’t smiling her usual smile.

Back then, when I saw Naomi’s expression, I thought she was just scared for her mother’s life; suffering because she knew a loved one was in pain; scared because her mother’s dress had caught fire at a New Year’s party. Now I know Naomi was also scared for herself.

“My mother survived the rocket.” Naomi said to me last Friday. “I thought that it would all be over; but when I visited her in the hospital I could still smell the smoke. It was more intense than ever before.”

“Oh.” I said.

“When I was small my grandma told me to tell her whenever the smell got worse. She said that if the smell got worse something bad would happen.”

“Oh.” I said.

“I should call mom.” Naomi said. “I hope she’s okay.”

When she got up to refill our glasses I blew out the candles.

“You like your gin strong, I remember?” She said.

“I just don’t want to fall behind.” I said.

She laughed.

We talked about gin, drinking, and then about other things.

I swayed when I walked home. I could barely keep my eyes on the road. But it wasn’t the alcohol, or at least not the alcohol alone, that got to me.

Since our conversation a question was stuck in my head. I kept wondering whether I should tell her that the smell of burnt wood, the scent of smoke that had always hid under Naomi’s perfume, had gotten stronger.


This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

They Made Her Watch

Trigger warning!



On the 20th of March 2013 I saw my sister for the last time.

She is not dead, or at least I don’t think she is. Rachel looked like she had a plan and I think she will be able to survive. But she is gone. She told me she would leave the country. She said she couldn’t stand the people, the fake smiles, even the language and standard greetings anymore.

She left and she told me, point-blank that she would change her name and try everything to forget our parents, her old friends and classmates, her ex and his friends, and even me.

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t close, certainly not since Rachel turned seventeen. I was fifteen back then, when she met the man that ruined her life – now her ex. But there was a pain that I can’t put in words, something that broke inside my heart, when my own sister told me, point-blank, that I would never see her again.

She told me that even to just look at me made her feel sick.

She is somewhere else now. I would like to think she is in South America, somewhere where it’s warm. But honestly, she could be anywhere from Siberia to the French foreign legion to somewhere in a Tibetan monastery.

She didn’t leave because of me. None of this is about me. It’s all about her and that guy, Matthew.

I think Rachel got with Matthew because she wanted to prove our parents wrong.

I heard the fight in my room, how they made her promise to never see him again, right after the party. He wasn’t even invited. Maybe a friend of hers brought him along, or maybe he just crashed the party.

I was in the corner, talking to two of her more geeky friends – those guys that did Rachel’s homework from grades five to seven – they were the only ones I could talk to back then. I ogled her friends, but I only talked to the other nerds, and even they were embarrassed to have me around.

It was strange to see Rachel in her skimpy clothes, dancing with her friends, and with guys I had never seen, on the makeshift dance floor in our living room.

They broke the TV and stole the aquarium. Yes, not the other way around. That’s how horrible that party was. I’m just happy I had the clarity of mind to lock most of our upstairs rooms before I went to bed. But then, maybe, if I had stayed downstairs, maybe I could have saved her.

I didn’t even see him during the party. I went to bed around 3 am; he must have arrived after that.

I still don’t understand why our parents let her have that party; why they even felt that they had to leave the house to the kids for the weekend – which, in the end, meant they left it to Rachel and I would be in my room. They tried to convince me to stay at a friend’s place or visit my grandparents; I refused.

Rachel got a new laptop, but the real birthday gift was that weekend; one weekend without parents, but, sadly enough, with her younger brother still in the house.

I went to bed at 3 am and got up around 11. I stumbled down the stairs, ignored the comatose soon-to-be-a-college-douche on the stairs, saw the gaping hole in the TV – and then he was there. Matthew. He was mixing flour, eggs and milk in a pan; straight in the pan, not in a bowl. And he was wearing nothing except boxers and my dad’s shirt.

He took Rachel’s virginity in our parents’ bed; in the bed that they had had since their wedding; in the bed in which Rachel and I were conceived.

“Who are you?” I asked.

He laughed.

Rachel didn’t wake up until the afternoon; he was long gone.

I saw her panicking, how she stuffed the stained sheets in the washing machine, how she googled “emergency contraception.” She closed the browser when I looked over her shoulder, but I looked in the browsing history.

That night I found out what a ‘booty call’ was. He called. She looked scared, still she said yes.

“He’s the one.” Rachel told me before she ran out.

On Sunday night our parents took me apart. Rachel wasn’t home, so they blamed me instead. Stolen aquarium? Me. Broken TV? Me. Rachel not there? My fault too. Vomit in the closet? I had to clean it up.

I don’t remember Rachel coming home; she just rushed out of the door in the morning. Her eyes were swollen, her pupils unnaturally wide, and she was strangely hyperactive, on edge my dad would have called it if he had seen her.

I don’t remember many times when my dad and I agreed. But I didn’t even need to tell him about the stolen shirt and the stained sheets; he knew Matthew from just a two second phone call on Monday evening.

The phone rang. My dad picked up.

“Hello?” Dad said.

“Rachel there?”

“Who is it?”

Click.

Dad cornered me, questioned me. I denied everything. I didn’t even tell him about the stained sheets. But he knew anyway.

Monday night Rachel wasn’t home.

Tuesday night I heard the fight; I don’t even know what time it was.

Rachel screamed “I love him.”

Dad screamed “You will never see him again.”

A door slammed.

“If you walk out that door you can’t come back.”

Another door slammed.

The next day, when I came home from school, her room was empty.

Mom cried. Dad drank for the first time in years. Mom didn’t stop him.

That was nine years ago.

Since Rachel left Dad drank every night.

Two years ago his liver failed.

Rachel didn’t even come to the funeral


A number I didn’t knew; I recognized her voice despite the rough voice and despite the sobs.

“Hey little one,” Rachel said. “Can we meet one last time?”

How do you say “No” to that?


“What the fuck?” I said when she sat down at the other end of the plastic table.

I wasn’t even sure what I was referring to – the scars on her face, the scars on her arms, the greasy short hair, or the fact that I hadn’t seen her in nine years.

“Hi.” Rachel said. “Thanks for coming.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“How’s mom?” She asked.

“Alive.” I said.

“Sorry.” She said.

I drank my coffee.

“Really sorry.” Rachel said. “For everything.”

“Okay.” I said.

“I couldn’t leave.” She said.

“Sure.” I said.

“They forced me to stay.” She said.

“Sure.” I said.

“They made me watch things.” She said.

I stayed quiet, looked at the caked blood on her nose, the faint dark rings on her right eye, the small, round scars on her arms.

She pulled her sleeves over her arms.

“I wish I hadn’t left.” She said.

“That would have been better.” I said.

“They hurt people.”

“They hurt you?”

“Not just me.”

“Why did you stay?” I asked.

“They wanted me to stay.” She said. “They wanted me to watch.”

“They?”

“Matt and his family.” She said.

“You stayed with him?” I asked.

“Dad kicked me out.” She said.

We sat quietly.

The waiter asked for her order and left.

“What did they make you watch?” I asked.

“They hurt others.” Rachel said.

“Who?” I asked.

“Mostly girls.” She said.

“And you watched?”

“Yes.” Rachel said. “They made me.”

“Why didn’t you leave?” I asked.

“I was scared.” She said.

“Scared of them?”

“Scared that they would kill me like –“

Rachel stayed quiet.

“Like the other girls?” I asked.

“Yes.” She said.

“They made you watch?” I asked.

“They made me.” Rachel said. “And I helped bury them.”

“What did they do?” I asked.

Then I regretted asking.

“They tied them up.” Rachel said. “And then they –“

“They what?”

“They raped them.” She said.

“And then they killed them?”

They kept them for days.” She said. “And they tortured them.”

“Fuck.” I said.

“Yes.”

For just a moment Rachel smiled.

I moved my hand towards my coffee cup; I pulled it back when I realized it was shaking.

“They tortured them?” I asked.

“Until they died; or until their bellies grew.” Rachel said.

“When their bellies grew?”

“Then they killed them.”

“And you?” I asked.

“I made food.” Rachel said. “And in return they let me live.”

“For nine years?”

“It felt longer.” She said.

“How did you get out?” I asked.

“Matthew was looking for another girl. And I killed his dad.”

“You killed his dad?”

“While he was using me.” Rachel said. “He deserved it.”

“How?” I asked; the word nearly got stuck in my throat.

“Scissors.” She said.

“Oh.”

“While he was on top of me.” She said.

“He was –“

I stopped when I noticed her belly. “It grew.” Rachel would have said.

“Yes.” She said instead and lowered her eyes.

“Whose?” I asked.

“Matthew or his dad.” She said. “Or maybe one of their friends.”

My mouth stayed open.

She pressed her lips together.

My shaking hands grabbed the cold coffee.

“I’ll leave the country.” She said. “I need to end this.”

“End – this?” My eyes were on her belly.

“Yes.” She said. “I wouldn’t have told you, but I need money.”

“You want to abort?” I asked.

“He killed the first four.” Rachel said. “It’s better like this.”

“What?”

“I need to leave the country.” She said. “Don’t tell mom.”

“Never.” I said.

“Thank you.” Rachel said.

We talked for a few more minutes. I withdrew $200. Then I brought her to the hotel, paid her room, handed her the rest, and left.

Two days later I gave her all that was left in my account.

Rachel had tears in her eyes.

She hugged me; she smelled like old cigarettes but somehow clean.

We talked for a few minutes, I asked her what her plans were – she said she wasn’t sure.

When she got quiet I said goodbye. She smiled when I closed the door.

Her lips moved. I think she whispered “Thank you.”

The next day I phoned the hotel. They told me she was gone.


This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.