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

Glimmer #writephoto

Glimmer

distant-lights

 

“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…”

I know his tricks… #fivewords

Weekly Writing Prompt #155

Notre Dame Blick nach Westen - Wasserspeier

 

I know his tricks, and I can recognise the face, his, or of one of his “staff“, as he likes to call his minions. I have seen him a few times, in the old city, never in the same guise, even as an attractive person, disappearing at will in the crowd. Always, I heed his moves, his looks, for, sometime, he betrays his goal, his intentions, and reveals who will be his next prey.

Photo: Noter-Dame de Paris, collection privée, Paris in the 30’s.

Summer #writephoto

Summer

summer

 

“It looks like cotton…” she said in a calm voice, “Only, there is no-one working here.”

The landscape was quiet, the never disturbed peace of late summer.

“And there is no shadow…” She added, with a sigh. Did she mean “shade”?

He looked up, toward the darker patches of green, beyond the meadow. Small white clouds leisurely walked the sky. He then looked down at his feet. It is then he realised what she had meant: they no longer had shadows…

They must have crossed the border, in this silence, from the land of the living, to the land of memories.

Time had stopped.

 

Remains #writephoto

Remains

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He had come to the city, perhaps even unaware, only to write the story. It was about love, of course, or rather loves, lost, found again, unreconciled. That was two years back. The story, like a forgotten symphonie, was now left, unfinished, unpolished, and even, dare we say, unloved.

Something, someone, was missing, he feared he may know what. Somewhere in the unfathomable memories that submerged him, was a woman, the woman. And she, the sombre beauty of his dream, the one he had wanted to write for, was unwilling to belong, to fit in, to submit to his will.

Without her, what remains was a ghost, an empty shell, the faint shadow of what could have been, of what he so wanted to be.

So it was that he had to reignite the fire, and seduce her, again.

The Road #fivewords

Weekly Writing Challenge #143

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His gaze followed the road, as its silvery line slowly disappeared through the woods. As the sky was getting darker, he thought he would have to walk faster to avoid the storm.

This world was different, the landscape diffused, as if on the brink of disappearance. Was this reality, or only a dream?

Picture: Church in Lübars, Berlin © 2017 HonoréDupuis 

Avenue #writephoto

Avenue

avenue

 

Under the bright green canopy we do not feel the heat of the day, nor do we venture in the full light. You and I merely enjoy the peace, the remoteness from the living. Far away, we hear children playing, perhaps even the notes of a violin, invisible, beyond the orchard.

We have lived nearby, in a house full of memories, ours and many others’, who may have forgotten us. For we have escaped time, as we replay those cherished moments in silence, our puzzled, ethereal ghosts haunting this land forever.

Ascent #writephoto

Ascent

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Inside was a blissful, cool darkness. As we stepped in, and the heavy door closed behind us without a sound, we admired the immaculate spiral staircase, and wondered. How long would we have to wait, and, perhaps, how far would we have to climb, before meeting the master of the house?

It was so quiet we dared not speak a word. Sun rays filtered through the curtained windows. The sparse furniture was polished to the extreme, the mirrors on the walls seemed to be veiled – or was it our imagination?

There was only one way to go, and this was upstairs. We looked at each other, and smiled: we hadn’t got thus far to abandon our visit. After all we were invited. We were invited, even though we did not know where the invite came from…

We were young, and beautiful, what did we have to fear?

We took the first step, and you took my hand. It seemed that the house had gone a little darker. You went first, I, as ever, following, it was not the first time we’d ignored a warning…

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