Being there, or here? #fivewords

Weekly Writing Prompt #177

mark-fernyhough-3

leaf, home, alter, light, front

There, she knew well, it was her home, her friends, where she’d met him. Here, was another leaf, both of them now almost past the light, an alter-life she did not understand, even feared a little, however familiar she was with the language, the everyday words. Indeed this was different, in a way she had not expected. She did not know where to be, there was her past, and much happiness, here was the unknown, only clouds in front of her. But him, did he know?

Image: ©2019 Mark Fernyhough, The Berlin Architecture Series, Kaltblut Magazine

Am Nordufer

dscn5979

 

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

Looking back… #Iamwriting

Berlin_Kunstbunker

 

Last winter, there was ice on the windows… Perhaps, now, we miss that cold edge to the air?

The long walks along the river, the parcs, the lakes. A cold Sekt on a bench, long rides in the vibrating forests, the discovery of ancient sites, the monuments to deep history…

The storm. Each day counted, a boat trip on the lake, an hour in the museum, Luther, Sans Souci… Ruinenberg…

Yes, some short stories, but the novel is still beached, going nowhere. Does it matter?

No, it was a good year. Each day counted, 1937, a look into a recent past, and, wrapped in mist, a further away time: what ghosts roam in those older streets?

Discoveries: characters to make alive, tales to tell, dreams to repeat.

Inspiration: each new dawn, nature fighting back, art… The dark Muse.

Books? Turing, Wittgenstein, The Plot Against America, Silk Roads, Musil…

We are grateful for every morning, in the City of Faust: a Moveable Feast…

Photo: Air-raid shelter in Berlin at the Reinhardtstraße. At the present it is used as a private museum for contemporary art of art collector Christian Boros. On the top of the shelter is a reproduction of the Barcelona-Pavillion.

By Times – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3950214

 

Neophyte #thedailypost

Neophyte

DSC_0131

The streets are empty, and rain starts falling. Some windows are lit, high up the tall buildings. Fallen leaves fly in the wind. Slowly he begins to hear the voices of the city. He has so much to learn: the geography of those unknown spaces, where the wall once stood, the secret boundaries, what was once the East, what is still the West, the ancient churchyards, the parks, the statues.

He listens to the voices, far away. He walks, he writes, he speaks to her. She says: “you have to forget what you learnt: this is different, you are on the other side of a mirror, you have to start again, and you cannot guess…”

“Suspicious, but still benign…”

IMG_20160728_110251155

 

When they left the S-Bahn station a thin drizzle was falling on the deserted sidewalks of Wedding. It was about 1:30 in the morning, there was hardly any traffic, dawn was still some hours away. They were tired of carrying their luggage: it had been a long journey, all the way from the other side of the other capital… But home was now very close!

On the plane they had celebrated with a half-bottle of half-cooled champagne, just happy to have made it, through the grid-locked roads, the late and overflowing trains, the idiotic obstacle course through duty-free (!) at the airport.

As usual, they felt happy to be back, under a sky that meant, for them, peace and love.

And then there was that diagnosis: something not right, but not so wrong that they should worry, for now. They were not going to, as they had long learnt that being suspicious was an attribute of free people. And so it went for these cells inside him, and their mysterious behaviour.

As she opened the door, they kissed. This was not their last trip.

Picture: ancient bell, Invaliden Friedhof, Berlin Mitte, ©2017 Honoré Dupuis

Trace #TheDailyPost

Inspired by today’s one word prompt

DSC_0252

 

In any other city I would probably lose him, as his ability to hide behind others, look like them, or simply disappear, is beyond any other’s. But this is the city of Faust. Among the folks of the night, roaming the quiet streets, haunting the silent parks, he is known as the Prince of Deceit, and easily recognised. So I know where and how to find him, follow his putrescent scent, get the demons of the night to corner him.

He tries to pretend to be someone else, a poor vagrant, a homeless, harmless victim of this harsh life. And I laugh. Through the rictus and the sardonic smile, I see the reality of the shaking Devil.  Confronted, identified, gone the assurance, gone the lies, the pitiful remnant of a fallen angel is just afraid!

Vade retro Satanas!

Picture: Devil Voodoo Figure, Usulutàn Province, El Salvador (courtesy Tucson Museum of Modern Art)

Temporary #TheDailyPost

The Prompt

tumblr_omcq4f5dqp1ssfi6qo1_1280

 

After sundown the city soon wears a cloak of silence: aside from the main avenues, traffic thins out, children rush home, buses and trams, stop by stop, deliver their cargos of precious and tired humanity to their homes. This leaves the freedom of the quiet streets to the flâneurs, to the tramps, and to the night lovers. Except on Friday, when the young revel late, and noisily (bless their voices and their smiles) this temporary truce lasts until the early morning, just before five o’clock, when a new work day starts.

In these few hours of peace, the ghosts roam unheeded the deserted parks, along the canals, and if you are lucky, you may even see some poet, lost in her world, in the semi darkness of a bridge, or lying on a bench, near a lake. It is as if the city was catching up with her inner thoughts, before her children awake from their dreams…

Picture: berlin 2017 © martin u waltz. streetberlin.net, at http://streetphotography.streetberlin.net/image/158029491898

Of a Bottle of Coke, and a Typewriter

plakette-700-jahr-feier-berlin-1937

In 1937 the city of Berlin celebrated its 700th anniversary. 1237, was the year when the first artefacts and documents attested of the existence of an organised municipality, in what was then the town of Cölln, as Berlin was still then a mere nearby hamlet. In 1937, the NSDAP, the party of Adolf Hitler, had been in power for four years, following its electoral success in the general elections of 1933. Fleeing the noises and fracas of another election, we visited the most interesting, and beautifully laid-out exhibition “Berlin 1937, Im Schatten von Morgen“, at the Märkisches Museum, Berlin.

Fifty exhibits, photographies, audio recordings, day to day objects, display the day, as it happened, at a time when all organised resistance to the régime had long been brutally suppressed, and the city’s cultural and public life were totally subordinated to the dominating ideology. One can see the Wehrmacht marching, Coca Cola Gmbh doing well, and a typewriter, magnificently manufactured, and doted of a special key for “Schütz-Staffeln” (SS). There are also recordings of letters and diaries of people, then jailed, soon to be directed to an even worse fate, and their murder.

berlin-1937-coca-cola-flasche

It all felt strangely close to us, not at all old history. Yet, since, the city saw so many tragedies and as much destruction as the human species can take. We walked those streets, and heard the marching songs. In 1987 Berlin celebrated its 750th anniversary.

berlin-1937-unter-den-linden

olympia-schreibmaschine-dm-1-berlin-1937

Pictures: courtesy Märkisches Museum, Berlin