Am Nordufer

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Our paths crossed, again, as I was walking along the canal on a silent Sunday morning of mid November. The temperature had dropped overnight but was not yet at freezing point. The little man greeted me with a toothy smile, to which I politely responded. I knew of him for one of the multitude of minor demons that populate this city, largely innocuous, albeit one couldn’t tell for certain. We had met before, and I was a little intrigued to see him here, of all places, a hardly popular meeting place, squeezed between the industrial area east of the canal, and the deserted streets bordering the edge of the kiez.

“Are you enjoying the city at its quietest?” he enquired cheerfully. 

“Indeed, most adults are having brunch, or considering it, and the younger are probably still fast asleep after a night on the town!” I replied, half absent minded about the question. 

“You are right, this is a good time to enjoy the city, and forgotten places such as this… Or indeed our many beautiful cemeteries…”

I was surprised. I had taken an interest in the many small cemeteries to be found in all neighbourhoods, in the beautiful trees often planted there, and in some of the most intriguing old graves. But how would he have known of my interest? I decided silence was best.

“Have you been to the one on Turner road? The grounds there are beautifully kept…”

The street was on my way to the school, and I walked there twice a week during term. How did he know, or was it just a coincidence? In the summer I had stopped there a couple of times to look at the small stones of the soldiers’ grave in one corner of the cemetery, left of the entrance. Most civilian cemeteries in the city have a military corner, with graves from the two world wars, or their aftermath. 

It was time to counter-attack.

“Of course you know all these places of old, don’t you?” I said rather abruptly. “After all, you and your colleagues have not much else to do than visit, time and again?” He did not appear shocked by my statement. His smile was just a little more of a rictus, but he corrected himself quickly.

“We… I am busier than you seem to think, Herr Dupuis. We contribute much to the city’s knowledge of itself. Sometime the authorities don’t even notice, for example, the interest that someone like you, a valuable visitor, shows for these things, old streets, old churches, isolated parks… In fact, Herr Dupuis, by now you know more about it than many of its (younger) inhabitants!”

We were walking in the direction of the bridge and I was mulling over my companion’s story. Contributing to the city’s knowledge of itself? What did he mean by that? But, again, he was changing the subject.

“I see you wrote again about an interview with the one you call the “good doctor”… An intriguing name, from someone of your persuasion, I mean political persuasion!” I was lost. What could he possibly know about my political views? And how could he know about my writing?

The “good doctor”? Was this creature getting too personal? I was tempted to give him a shove toward  the water. But he continued.

“I enjoyed reading that interview. You understand a lot about our city Herr Dupuis. I think you are… transmuting, may I say, into one of us. But one of the old guard, if you know what I mean…” I did not and was getting somewhat annoyed by the turn of the conversation.

He must have sensed this.

“Ha… It’s getting late for me, and I must not take advantage of your kindness, Herr Dupuis. Einen schönen Sonntag noch! Au revoir maintenant!” He’d already disappeared. 

I resumed my walk. There were a few joggers around, and the odd dog walker. I had written about the interview on my blog, so that creature must have read it. I was being read, observed, I was the object of “their” attention. What did they report to their boss?

Picture: das Nordufer, weddingweiser.wordpress.com

By the riverside #writephoto

Calm

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We walk hand in hand in the peace of the morning. The river flows and reminds us of times past. We haven’t forgotten, but we have forgiven. For us, forgiveness has long been our way to give thanks. After all, the monsters are dead and we are alive, at least alive enough to admire the blue sky reflected in the calm water.

Glimmer #writephoto

Glimmer

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“Beyond those hills is our home”, he said softly to her ear, as they looked down the valley, toward the estuary. There the town was cradled, a thin glimmer of light against the darkness.

She shivered a little, but not from cold. She thought again of the place, the wild garden, the old walls. No-one had been there for ages. She could already hear the front door creak. Who would notice their return?

“I will look on as you fall asleep, I will wait for as long as it takes.” His voice so low only her could hear his words. She smiled, of course he will look after her, as he had done for all those years, as they roamed the world, away, so far away from home.

“We haven’t been near humans for a while…” she said, as she leaned against him.

“I know,” he replied softly, “we just hear them, they ignore us and will continue to ignore us. For them we are a flutter of fine dust, a tiny vortex in the air…”

Bone #writephoto

Bone

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This can’t be real… No, of course not, this is a game… That object there, yes, that skull, they think, it may be a gate, you know, some kind of key, to get somewhere else? This is a  game, of course. But it may also be a trap, something really nasty, that blows up in your face, you know…

I observe the fools from my observatory on the low hill, the sniper rifle comfortably cradled against my shoulder. I see all three of them, hideous trolls. I know what they are saying, in their vernacular. “This must be a game…” Idiots.

The first one, one disgusting character, approaches the skull. The bullet takes him right in the eye as he’s about to touch the bone. One down.

The other two look around, there is no escape, nowhere to hide, they don’t even run. I take my time. No unnecessary cruelty. A quick and neat death. Job done.

And it’s not even a real bone!

Fall #writephoto

Fall

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We listen to the crystal melody of the waterfall. Sun rays bounce off the glistening rocks. Is this a dream, or are we there? There, in the valley we cherish, where, in the sharp, icy air of dawn, our young souls met, one Spring.

It’s not a dream, but it is only a picture. So, my dearest love, we have to wait, for our ghostly shadows to find a way back, there, near the waterfall.

Pillars #writephoto

Pillars

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Voices resonate here, voices from the present, but also voices from the past, maybe from a long gone past. Those who erected these pillars knew how to build, to last. Their footsteps, perhaps even the sound of their tools, chiselling the stone, can still be heard.

A little further, the sun shines in the courtyard. Did they hold councils here, did the walls hear judgements, or laughter, or even the sound of water rising? Where did they go? Did they leave their work behind, did they travel far, did they leave our world? Were they time-travellers?

Spectral #writephoto

Spectral

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The old mill stands still, in the frozen landscape; there, they worked, had fun, sometime loved. Now, there is only emptiness, silent stones, pale ghosts recounting long forgotten stories. All round lived once a multitude, poor but hopeful. Children were born, iron was cast, dreams were woven. Why they all left, what was their fate, did they lose faith? We dare not ask the ravens, and shall never know.

Turning #writephoto

Turning

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Yesterday… We walked in this valley, under the burning sun, hand in hand, believing in the eternal summer. Yesterday, perhaps, more than you, my love, I longed for Autumn, and the fall of leaves. Did I believe Time had stopped? Did I believe Earth was flat, after all?

Or was I inebriated, drunk in our love?

But now, Winter has come, silent, ineluctable: the hills are white with snow, our shoes leave no trace on the frozen ground. Nature has taken back what is hers, the air is cold, yesterday’s azure sky is now deep grey.

The light is out.

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