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On the Fjord

Early morning on the fjord. The fishing boat cutting slowly and surely through the still water. Only the humming of the engine to be heard. The mist trailing on the surface, swirling around the boat on both sides, making it difficult to see the buoys and the flags. Difficult finding the nets. But they have to be found or the fish will die for lack of food.
The sun not yet warming. The cold of the night still lingering. The moon’s sickle still visible above the horizon too, but hard to see through the mist. The splashing of the water.

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Dystopia anno 20**

I.

It was a cold autumn day in-between late summer and the rainy season. The smell of rain was in the air, and the overcast sky already threatened with it, but it hadn’t started yet and could easily drag out for days. The buildings looked sharp in the grey light. A 3D animation printed onto the fabric of reality. Only the wind disturbed the image somewhat by ruffling the trees and sighing repeatedly. A few trees were yellow and red but most were still green and the orchard still showed the surreally red spots of forgotten, ripe apples there was nobody to pick.
And so the scene is set for the story.

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A Tale of Modern Paganism

There were days when the paganism of her ancestors came back to life inside her.
There were days when the cherry wine was a welcome friend.
But there were also days when it didn’t work as well as it ought to.
There were days when she didn’t need it at all – where she was one with the world around her, one with the permeating universal energy and felt the breath of the Universe itself in the wind and heard its voice in the rustling leaves, and let her body dissolve happily into the fabric it was a part of.
On those days she didn’t need the cherry wine.
But then there were other days.

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A Woman’s Story

The stomach got in our way, so to speak. This grotesque inflation. I couldn’t look at it. I felt my own stomach twist and turn. I couldn’t look at it.
She hugged me tightly as if nothing had happened and chirped happily.
“Oh, it’s been so long since I’ve seen you. What have you been up to? I haven’t seen you since graduation. Where are you living now? Oh, you must come and visit me one of these days now you’re in town anyway – do come! I haven’t seen you since… Oh, we have so much to talk about!”

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Understanding Others

The centrifugal force of words washed over her, swirled around her, made her dizzy. ‘But that’s what shrinks do’, she figured, watching with increasing numbness as the man’s lips kept moving, making words that increasingly seemed to dissipate and dissolve as they emerged into sound, ‘they talk and they talk and they talk until you barely know your own name anymore, and then they demand answers that you never had in the first place. And when you fail to answer, they’ll force an answer upon you, believing that they know all there is to know about you after reading a textbook. And at that point you’ve become too weakened by the sheer force of their words to even bother protesting.’

She thought of her childhood, as she was asked to do. But she didn’t see the connections she was told to look for. Rather, she saw glimpses of a world she could hardly believe had ever existed and didn’t feel like it held much connection to the present at all.
Sweet glimpses of herself gathering seashells, watering plants, jumping in rain puddles. Singing.
Sad glimpses of herself running away from the tears and the screaming, her mother’s furious face and foaming mouth that she didn’t understand what had caused – only knowing that she somehow got the blame.
Bittersweet glimpses of herself learning to pretend and lie since nobody cared anyway. The bottles she hid in her home. The scars she hid under her sleeves. The soothing calm of a whole bottle after work – the feeling of weightlessness. Not having to care anymore.

She thought of it all and understood less and less as she did so. But telling that to a complete stranger who seemed to have made up his conclusions in advance didn’t seem to make much sense.

She thought of all the people she thought was her friends, or hoped might become her friends. The people she grew up with. Today they were in the midst of careers and babies and living lives she didn’t understand while she felt like dissolving. She didn’t understand other people. She didn’t feel like pretending to understand them anymore. Illogical creatures, the lot of them. But what did logical thinking ever bring her, besides a free ticket to the torture that was this room, and this talking machine sitting across from her, still moving his lips.

‘Did you have a good childhood?’
‘Sometimes, I guess.’

‘Did you have friends in school?’
‘Some, I guess.’

‘How do you feel about your family?’
‘That’s difficult to say.’

‘What do you want in life?’
‘A life?’

A life. A goal. Meaning. Help. Guidance.

But since nobody ever offers me that…

Peace. To close my eyes and never open them again. To sleep and never wake up.

But you were offered help?
No, I was only offered words.

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HER 1: Waiting for Her

I.

It was raining as usual. Since autumn set in the rain had been almost constant. She had hardly seen the sun in over three weeks.
All the same, the weather fit her mood.
She was waiting for the bus. It felt to her as if all she had ever done in her life was waiting. For the bus. For Her. For the bus again. Benching. Waiting for the bus. Waiting for Her. Benching. Waiting. For Her.
The rain weighed down her otherwise fluffy hair, and the drops on her glasses made it impossible for her to see. She took them off. Not that it helped in the least bit. It just made the world blurry instead of blotched.

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HER 3: The Art of Knowing

That head reminded her of something. Something she knew she’d seen before, but at the moment she wasn’t able to accurately match it with anything in her memory. All the same, that ruffled golden hair in front of her seemed familiar. So familiar that she felt like stretching out her hand to touch it, even though she knew that the owner would probably throw a fit if she were to act on her desire.
The head turned slightly when the owner motioned to look out of the bus window. It belonged to a young woman with milk-and-honey skin and long eyelashes. A ripple of sobbing motions ran through her mind. That woman reminded her of someone, but of whom? When she turned her head a whiff of perfume was blown in her direction – sweet, flowery stuff. Like a large bouquet she just wanted to bury her head in to better sense the full fragrance of the moment. The sweet smell mixing with the humid, dank smell coming from everyone else on the bus. The smell of rain.
The young woman got off the bus at the business college. The moment’s gone, she thought to herself as the bus rode on, leaving another nameless passenger behind in the rain. She felt like crying. She had a feeling that she too had left someone behind in the rain somewhere. In fact, it all seemed so familiar to her, as if it had happened before.

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You Can’t Drown

The voice spoke loud and clear to me though no-one could have spoken it. No-one could have because my head was under water and it isn’t possible to speak down there. Your hearing is magnified but your speech vaporizes and comes out in practically voiceless bubbles if you are to attempt. It is such a relief. One of the bonuses of diving, at least for someone like me who isn’t much of a talker even on the best of days.
And yet this voice came and spoke to me underwater. I could hear the distant, rhythmic thumping of a boat motor, and the vague echo of the movements of the other divers, but apart from that all was still. And then it came. It was loud, it was clear, and it was decided. “You can’t drown!”

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