Tag Archives: room

It just won’t stop ringing

It was always there. When I was young it came rarely, maybe when I was close to crossing the street and hadn’t looked left and right yet, or when I left a sharp knife on the kitchen counter, or that time when I was at the supermarket and there was a man that kept following me for four or five aisles, until I found mom again.

I think it somehow connects to my intuition. I’ve heard others describe that they can feel a shiver on the back of their spine, or that the hair on their arms stands up when they are nervous. For me the only time the hair stands up is when I’m cold.

And else, when I’m scared, there is the bell.

I can’t remember the first time I heard it. The first memory I have of hearing it, when I was at my grandmothers’ place at the strange round pile of stones, and I was digging through the stones to look for rabbit babies, when it was ringing, thundering in my ears, I wasn’t surprised or scared. I must have heard it before. It started ringing, loud and clear, and when I kept digging it got louder, as if a huge church bell was slowly moved closer to me, ringing more vigorously and faster with every single stone that I pulled to the side.

Maybe grandma heard the bell too. I remember she came running, screaming for me to get away from the well. I was on top of some of the stones. And the stones started moving. And grandma grabbed my arm, but my legs, they fell with the stones and hit against the wall. I remember how grandma’s arm shivered when she pulled me out of the hole. She was old then already, maybe 60 or 70, and she was the same thin that she has always been in my memory.

“Hold onto me,” she said. “Hold onto me.”

And below us, far below, I heard the stones hitting a hard floor. Continue reading

The Museum

Right out of school I wasn’t really ready for life yet. I needed to get out; get away – see the world, and if the money wasn’t enough for the world, then at least my own country.

I stumbled into him on the way South. A kind lady threw me out on a country road – and he was already there, lying in the dry grass with a cheap grin on his face.

“Been here for an hour,” he said. “Hard spot to catch a ride.”

We talked. Shared a cig he had stolen from his last ride. When there was still no car in sight – at least none that would stop – we walked side by side, our loose shoes sliding over the dirt in unison.

The heat was bad, but worse was the lack of prospects. No cars in sight and only an occasional house interspersed between the large fields. Max saw it first. The blue sky was still above our heads, but a front of gray was approaching from the horizon.

“Better find some roof,” he said.

We had passed the last house nearly twenty minutes ago. The next one, a large building with white walls, was not that far ahead. We pressed on, with larger steps, while the front of gray already swallowed the color of the land.

A large sign, nailed against the fence. The first word must have fallen off, but most letters of the second one remained:

“Muse m” Continue reading

Nola

Stijn scrambled out of his room into the living room and then behind the couch that I was sitting on. I noticed he had something in his hand when he came in, but he’s five now and I thought that it wouldn’t be anything dangerous. I heard him playing and laughing behind me while some soap opera played on.

“Don’t move,” he said.

That made me curious. I just wanted to see what he was playing with.

I leaned over the back of the sofa and he was sitting there with something white in his hand. It took me a moment to understand what was in front of him on the carpet; that there were the bones of a complete human leg and that he was just putting the last toe in place. Continue reading

Barnam House

TRIGGER WARNING: Child death; violence; abuse.


Let me tell you a story about a place you know.

You know Barnam House.

Everyone I ever talked to about it, they all knew the Barnam House. Most don’t remember where or when, but they heard talk about it or saw the pictures or watched the documentary. And when I describe it, the large white doors, the high walls, the walls with flaking blue paint and the yard outside, always immaculate except for that one, longish patch of dead plants – then they remember. They see the picture again.

I bet right now you can see it. The old trees slowly moving with the wind, the wind whistling and howling past, and of course that one top window shutter that keeps opening and closing, opening and closing, but not in the same pattern as the trees move or the wind whistles.

The Barnam House. There are different stories about it. Some say the Barnams simply left, from one day to the other. There was something they feared and so they left without ever telling anyone. That’s why, if you look through the shutters and you’re lucky enough to have enough light, you can see that there are still plates on the dinner table. Continue reading

The Minimalist

Noah J. was so kind to narrate this story in English. You can listen to it here:

This story was also translated to Polish and made available as a Polish YouTube reading.


His name is Sven. He is 27, blond and used to have a well-shaped body.

We lived together for three years, him and me. Nights with beer and peanuts and good talk and days that we barely saw each other because of my busy schedule. He is an architect, or maybe he just was, I’m not so sure.

In March he made his life dream come true. He travelled to Japan and for three weeks his Facebook wall was plastered with photos of temples and streets and people. But most of all there were pictures of houses, large and small, finally photos of houses and apartments from the inside. Besides one of the pictures, to this day, stands a sentence that I think started his obsession:

“The people here are really nice. Tell them you are an architect and ask nicely and any stranger will show you their house – just make sure to take your shoes off!”

In his posts and the two short phone calls we had during his time in Japan I noticed that he seemed to have a new passion: Minimalism. Simplify and declutter your life and you will simplify and declutter your mind.

“You know,” he said. “They have apartments here, not even bigger than student rooms, but they have everything! A shower, a kitchen, everything in just one room and you don’t even notice it!”

The first thing Sven did when he came back was to pack most of his life – first spare clothes, his game consoles and his TV, then also old gifts or random memorability – into boxes. He placed the boxes on the sidewalk and within the hour they were gone. Within a week more and more left his room: Old birthday cards, photos, trophies, even his heirloom grandfather clock. Soon all was at the side of the street. Soon all of it was gone.

A room with a near-empty shelf, a near-empty wardrobe, a desk and a chair.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” he asked.

And I had to agree: So simple, so clean, so relaxing.

No clutter. No memories.

No worries. Continue reading

The Hardest Speech of his Life

A young lady pulled him aside. “What?” he asked. With swift fingers the blonde wiped a cotton cloth along his forehead. “It will smear the makeup,” she said. He glanced at his watch. “There are more important things now,” he said. The lady pulled his shirt straight, then he managed to escape her grip. He stepped into the small room, took a quick glance at the flag and sat down in front of it. He nodded. The man behind the camera held up three fingers. Then two. Then one. A red light. “My fellow citizens,” he said. “Today is a day this nation – even this world – will never forget.” He swallowed. The sweat was running down his forehead. “From this minute on our nation is at war.”