Short story

Gul væske, hvidt tag

Kirkeby var en lille by. Den havde røde huse, gule bænke og en hvid kirke i midten. Det var ikke fordi at turister normalt besøgte byen; tværtimod havde de et hundrede og fireogtredve indbyggere det fint med at leve i fred. Malermester Olsen passede køer i sin fritid og solgte dem til det lokale mejeri i Grønnehave, Præst Jensen bagte surdejsbrød, og Postbud Sørensen fik limonade med fra nabobyen, som indbyggerne nød sammen foran kirken hver søndag. Når solen skinnede, gik de tur i skoven, hele vejen ned til søen.

Kirkeby var en lille by, og forandring var et fremmedord. De fleste borgere passede sig selv eller mødtes foran kirken for at drikke limonade. Men en bestemt torsdag aften slog gnisterne over himlen, og et lyn ramte kirkens top. Det var der ingen der tog sig af, for de kom alligevel kun i kirke for limonaden, men da Malermester Olsen næste morgen skulle ringe til det lokale mejeri, var der ingen forbindelse. Postbud Sørensen cyklede rask af sted næste morgen i retning af Grønnehave, som forresten var den eneste vej ud af byen. Hun passerede de røde tage og kirken, mens hun noterede, at det hele så en anelse slidt ud efter nattens stormvejr. Der lå endda gule bænke i en brændt bunke inde i Præst Jensens have, hvilket fuldstændig kvalte lugten af hans nybagte surdejsbrød. Men det blev værre. For vejen til Grønnehave var spærret af det største egetræ Postbud Sørensen nogensinde havde set.

Kirkeby var en lille by, så dens indbyggere var naturligvis rystede over disse forandringer, men alle tog det alligevel forholdsvis afslappet. Malermester Olsens køer var løbet væk i nattens larm og befandt sig et sted i skoven, men ud over det slappede alle af. Alting gik jo som det plejede. Egetræet bekymrede ingen sig om – ikke i de første par dage, i hvert fald. Men den første søndag efter stormen opdagede borgerne i Kirkeby, at der ikke var noget limonade, for Postbud Sørensen var ude af stand til at hente det på grund af træet. Malermester Olsen konkluderede senere samme dag, at hans køer måtte være svømmet over søen til den anden side. Præst Jensen var også bekymret, for der var ingen der kunne svømme i byen, og derfor ingen mulighed for at komme til Grønnehave og spørge om hjælp til at få ryddet vejen. Samme nat havde Malermester Olsen et mareridt, hvor han drømte at hans køer kom tilbage i natten ledsaget af lyn og torden, og de smadrede de gule bænke og knuste de røde tage, og det hele forsvandt ned i en malstrøm af limonade, som han selv stod i midten af, hjælpeløs og ensom. Han fik ingen søvn den nat, eller næste nat, og tirsdag morgen stod han ude foran kirken og græd en hjælpeløs gråd.

Kirkeby var en lille by, men den føltes kun større efter uvejret. Ting var begyndt at ske. Malermester Olsen stod udenfor og råbte hver nat, hvilket gav Præst Jensen hovedpiner og smerter. Men der var ingen medicin at få, og på onsdagen efter stormen døde hans gamle mormor af mangel på piller, og nu var Kirkeby pludselig reduceret til et hundrede og treogtredive indbyggere. Præst Jensen var ulykkelig, og han forstod ikke hvilken besked Gud prøvede at fortælle ham. Han endte med at ty til mad, så den nat stod et hundrede og toogtredive indbyggere til hans mormors begravelse foran kirken, mens han selv bagte surdejsbrød som en gal, indtil der ikke var mere dej i Kirkeby. Postbud Sørensen havde det heller ikke bedre i de første par uger, for hun følte at det var hendes skyld at alting var gået så galt – det plejede jo at være hende, som bragte alting til byen! En søndag besluttede hun at hun ville genoplive traditionen med at gå i skoven, på trods af at solen ikke havde skinnet i flere uger. På vej igennem det tætte krat der omgav Kirkeby blev hun stanget ned af en af Malermester Olsens køer, som åbenbart var kommet tilbage.

Kirkeby var en lille by, men i dag er den hverken uinteressant eller normal. Hvis man skal derind – hvilket nogle nysgerrige og modige turister forsøger – skal man klatre med enorme stiger over træet, eller undgå de løsslupne vilde køer mens man svømmer igennem søen. Hvis man baner sig igennem det tætte krat, og undgår kvinden, som kommer ridende på en stor tyr igennem marken uden om byen, kan man være vidne til historiens største surdejsproduktion uden surdej, som nu står som et desperat forsøg på at genoplive følelsen som man har første gang man spiser et nybagt brød. Der er ikke mere dej i Kirkeby, så græsset bliver revet op med roden under de resterende halvgullige bænke, og puttet ind i huset af den store, tykke præst. I mellemtiden står kirken tom, men den har sidenhen fundet sin nytte som en kirkegård, da den dog kan beskytte Kirkebys voksende mængde af lig for regn og slud. Præst Jensens mormor var blot den første der sluttede sig til Kirkebys nyeste samlepunkt og hobby, og snart vendte Malermester Olsen sig også til hende på kirkegården, da hans egne køer besluttede sig at vende tilbage pludseligt og voldsomt. Det er stadig uvist hvorfor han valgte at gå til angreb på dem da de endelig vendte hjem, men hans mareridt havde i bedste fald omvendt hans psyke og gjort at han troede at de alle sammen var store, lækre limonadeglas. Manglen på limonade blev desuden det sidste nederlag for Kirkebys resterende seksoghalvtreds indbyggere, men den store mængde turisme har i dag skabt et overdådigt velfærdssamfund for de overlevende. Solen skinner igen.

Short story

Wistful thinking

Isn’t it wonderful?


He gestured towards the glass pane separating their living room from the garden. Tiny little drops of wet cloud trickled spontaneously, unpredictably down the window. Some were big, some were small. Sometimes they collided and merged and waltzed further down before splitting up again.

He took her by the hand and she still hadn’t spoken a word.

They walked into the soggy garden through the backdoor, which wasn’t locked, because it never was. She was wearing unmatched socks, one red and striped, and one blue with little yellow sporadically sprinkled dots. His feet were bare. The pot soil, soaked with beautiful sky-tears, sloshed and wobbled under their weight, but their feet weren’t cold.

It took a few careful steps, but soon enough, they found themselves standing on the rickety wooden fence, a few meters closer to heaven, eyes turned skywards.


Isn’t it wonderful?


He was smiling under the stern look to his eyes. She had her mouth opened slightly, and not a word was coming out.

As the minutes passed, he wanted to give her all the time in the world, though he knew he couldn’t. His hand reached in and found a botched hourglass in his oversized coat pocket. It had three supportive wooden twigs, expertly carved with imminent detail that boggled the mind, and a flowing stream of sand that could never leave the glass chamber, because the curve was too narrow at the junction. He’d spent hours, maybe days, just looking at the thing. He thought about it a lot, and he thought it was wonderful. He held it in one hand, as if it was a delicate nestling whose wing he was afraid to break as he presented it to her.


Isn’t it wonderful?


And he closed his eyes and pictured her smiling back. He saw her hand reaching out and feeling the sleek glass and he let go, because she could have it all, if she wished. As he kept his eyes shut, he tried to ignore the sound of it shattering on the cold hard ground. He thought he really felt her there, if only for just a moment, and he didn’t want to open his eyes again, for he knew she’d be gone, because she was never truly there.

And in his mind he recalled that night panting by her bed, the unnaturally cold grip of her little hand and he heard her once again whisper with her last breath;


“I want you to open your eyes,

isn’t it wonderful?”

Short story

Blue towel

There were so many things on Jared’s shelf. Books mostly, but also other things. It was formed like a level in jump man. A slight slope assured that the books would never topple, but lean on each other for support. You could trace the lines across titles and colours, every one containing a world in itself. The words became letters and the letters a blurry mess. He pictured the little red and blue character running along, dodging dangerous barrels by jumping over them. Each hole in the line of books was a ladder to the next floor. A bookend here and a seashell there. There were so many things on Jared’s shelf.

Jared’s carpet was large and greenish purple. An ugly thing really, but he kept it nonetheless. He wasn’t sure why, but whenever he went looking for a new one, the damned thing seemed to stop him. It whispered to him softly and spoke of nothing but always had a lot to say.

His friends were always telling him “Jared why don’t you rid yourself of that carpet. You never liked it anyway.” And he nodded and agreed and went shopping with them. Ikea monday, a local shop thursday and sunday, he went online and searched. The hunt went on and he saw more game than most, but as long as he had that old rug, he knew he couldn’t pull the trigger. It just wasn’t right. And he told his friends how he felt and they nodded and mumbled “Yeah” and “Okay” and the bunch agreed that he was doing the right thing and getting a new carpet with the old one still there just wasn’t right.

Jared never liked his greenish purple footwarmer, which seemed to be the only real purpose there was left to it. He looked at his shelf and oh, how he loved that shelf, and he pictured the jump man making his way to the princess. He never said a word, because he knew if he did, the rug wouldn’t listen anyways. And it seemed content that way. It chit-chatted about this and that and he thought his ears might soon begin to bleed.

He never thought he’d find anything when he went shopping with his friends. They mostly did it out of routine, and he was just being polite when he said yes to come. One day though, Jared was thunderstruck. Like a bolt of lightning from a clear sky, he fell in love at first sight. In the beach section of a grand warehouse, the most beautiful blue towel lay sprawled carelessly across a folding chair, just waiting to be picked up.

On the way home, the blue towel sat across the passenger’s seat with its top in his lap, moving up and down as he passed bumps in the road. He told it every single little detail of his beloved shelf and he felt dirty, but she felt so good and it felt so right even though it was so wrong.

He had straight forgotten about his old carpet and threw the blue towel eagerly on his bed when he came home. He was unbuttoning his shirt for the night, when he saw it there, still in the room.

It didn’t take many seconds before the soon-to-be refurbished rug was out on the street and he had no business with it anymore. He was pretty sure he heard it yell something along the lines of “Slut!” when he was showing it out, but he shook it off as he had always had a lively imagination.

“Carpets don’t speak,” he reassured himself as he returned to the blue towel waiting for him on the bed…

Short story

Shoes

“I like these new shoes,” he said, baffled.

“The upholstery is black leather,” she pointed out to him.

Already being aware of this, he simply nodded in response.
“I like the soles and the laces. They seem trusty.”

He inspected every inch of the boots with careful precision. They were fine craftsmanship. Every little detail thought out and made by handy fingers. It had to be such a fiddle to get just right.

“The big road outside…” he began

“What about it?” She rested her head in her palm.

“It’s muddy and cold. And there are so many little tiny holes.” He paused, concerned.
               “Won’t they get torn up?”

She looked at him, confused and out of words.
Seeing as she wasn’t saying anything, he thought it best to continue. She might have misheard him.

“It’s just these new shoes are so fine, splendid even, I don’t want to ruin them. I mean by God could you imagine if I went out wearing my brand new precious shoes and stepped in fresh cement… Or worse!?”
He paused for a second and continued by answering his own question.
               “I would shrink to the size of a peanut, my new pride would be all spotted and smudgy. The thought gives me the shivers.”

She smiled. Not in a happy way, not in the way you would if someone told you a joke, and not in a sad way. He didn’t know what to think of this smile. Luckily for him, she finally spoke.

“You know why I tell you to go outside and play every day?”

He shook his head, almost apologetically.

“Because your pride isn’t worth much at all, if you keep it all locked up inside.”