When on Facebook, you find the most interesting things. I found this picture, shared by a friend from a writer's page and thought it, as he did, to be a solid
exercise for my writing skills. Thus, I went for it. I hoped that many of my friends would comment and that I could let my creativity run free for a bit. I've been so busy this past year that
there was practically no time left for writing - something that is as much a part of me as breathing.
And my hopes were fulfilled. My creativity had a field day. Or two... Afterwards, I asked my friends whether they would be okay with me sharing these texts via my blog because I really liked them (and they did so, too). They all complied with my request and I promised to protect their privacy. Therefore, all the names in the following texts have been exchanged for fictional names. The snippets are not a part of fully plotted storylines, therefore they don't have full character arcs and may feel like something is missing - the rest of the story. This is the point where you can start creating it for yourself - or share it as a comment below. I would be delighted to read it!
Now, without further ado, the character presentations:
When Arianna entered the classroom it was half empty. Pretty much every table was already partly used by another student and she wondered where she wanted to sit. It was then that she noticed Rani at the front, lost in some thought or other. She smiled and walked over.
"Hi, can I sit with you?"
Theresa's broad smile seemed to come from an inner source of warmth that was always there. Arianna wasn't sure whether this innermost point of Rani was a place of contentment, silence or wanderlust. It seemed to be a bit of all of these things. Theresa had become rather restless lately; it showed in the faint purplish rings underneath her eyes and the tint of sadness in her eyes. Otherwise, she was as quirky and funny as usual, her bouncy curls tied in a ponytail, a quick smile on her face and bubbly laughter interrupting her sentences now and then. Since they had only seen each other during the lecture and chatted a few times upon meeting each other by chance, Arianna wondered, whether Theresa considered her as an acquaintance or someone who could become a friend. She was hard to read that way and it made her a little sad because Arianna would have loved to get to know her more, but she was too shy and had learned the hard way not to pry.
Right now, Cerise was standing in front of one of the sweet-stands and threw her long, blonde hair back, while she was talking to the seller and tasted pretty much everything on display. Individual – that was the first word that came to mind when one thought of Cerise. Apart from her name being a bit out of the ordinary, she was a bit… different herself. Talking a lot, always on the move, but when she was tired, she could fall asleep everywhere. She had a certain something that made people turn around and want to engage with her. Interesting – that was probably the second word that came to mind when you started talking to her. Cerise was the kind of individualist that fitted in everywhere and still managed to do her business entirely her way, which was somehow cool and to which one wanted to belong to. But being like her… that seemed too exhausting in a way… Most of her project hung a little in the air and you never knew what she would start next. Sometimes here, sometimes there, she was like a butterfly that had not yet transformed fully into one and was not yet sure which one she wanted to be, taking a bite out of every offered leaf. And that was good the way it was…
She barged into the room and hissed at her co-worker Jana, who had lifted her index and wanted to say something: “I dare you to say anything about finding a parking space!”
Jana shrugged and asked instead: “Vapiano for lunch?”
“If we must…”
The grumpy answer came from behind the screen that belonged to her desk. Jana heard the clicking of the power-button and the droning of the computer when it booted. She also heard the fervent clacking of her nails on her phone and then the “thunk” as the designer bag landed on the desk. Jana was way less interested in such status symbols as her colleague was, but apart from her strong character and her passion for arguments over the tiniest nothings, she was very happy with her desk-neighbour. On a positive note: her drama was always very entertaining.
Her stare was fixed intensely on the contents of the pot. She stirred, once, twice, then waited and stirred again once, twice, this time counter-clockwise. A voice in her back made her jump: “What are you doing?”
“I'm cooking", she grumbled, a little annoyed at the disturbance of her thoughts.
“What are you cooking up in there? You were so fixated, you didn't even hear me coming.”
“That's because you have wings, Coran. You don't thread the ground anymore...”
“Yeah, right… So… what are you cooking up in there? Smells like rat feet with garlic and looks like cow-poo-soup.”
She turned her head to look at the raven perched upon the herb-rack. He was pacing up and down, looking at her. Her eyes looked back, sad, and her shoulders slumped as if the whole weight of the world had suddenly been dropped upon her shoulders.
“I was trying a new recipe for an antidote to the potion Arania gave to you… But I messed it up somehow. I am sorry.”
Coran smiled somehow, which should have been impossible, given the fact that he had a beak now, but he was not a real raven and it seemed that some human part remained in there apart from the talking and the oh-so-human emotions he felt.
“Don't be sorry. I know you're doing all you can. It's not your fault that Arania is such a jealous b…witch.”
“I should know what to do! I am in my last year, but I have no idea what she poured into your tea…”
It had been three weeks now since Arania had poisoned his drink out of jealousy over their attachment.
“You are nearly finished, too. Don't you have any idea? What did it taste like?” “Uhm… like tea”, he said a little ashamed.
The kitchen of her little cottage was nearly dark and the fire of the oven made her eyes glow and her hair look like fire. He loved that. She was his fire and his sun and he would have drunk a thousand poisoned teas to be with her, but she did not know that. She did not see how smart she was, or how witty. She could be overly competitive and stubborn, but he thought she was cute when her brows furrowed and she behaved like a storm trapped in a water glass. He smiled again, trying to give her some hope.
“Well, at least she did not succeed in trapping you and claiming you as her pet. I'm glad that Rhineward finally looked in the right direction for once and made her pay.”
Arania had been sentenced to kitchen duty at the school, which meant feeding the pigs, cleaning the big pots and cutting the vegetables for four weeks for poisoning him. But the teachers believed it to be a good lesson to have him figure out how to turn back. Up to now, neither he nor Lena, the Little Witch from the Woods as the other students called her because she lived in a little cottage near the school, had found an antidote.
“Where am I”, she thought. “This looks like home, but it isn’t. It feels different.”
Carefully, she explored the house. It was empty. At the end, she stood in the hallway, wondering, and decided to venture outside. She had hardly opened the door, when a loud voice sounded: “YES! The first false step! She has left the house!”
“Ehm”, she thought and looked around.
A camera team and a slick guy with a micro stood in front of her house. She slowly descended the few steps and watched the camera team. It followed her and the man commented: “Now, she is leaving the house. That’s already very good. What will her next step be?”
Then he made a cut-sign and the camera was lowered.
“What is going on here”, she asked advancing.
He made a face rolling his eyes.
“Don’t tell me you suffer from memory loss. That’s the last thing I need.”
“Please just explain the rules to me again… I am… not fully awake, yet”, she said as sweetly as she could.
“You just have to do the opposite of what you would usually do. If you feel like, say, fetching your daughter from school, don’t. You only win if you rebel. That’s what “What would you never do” is all about! – The great show of rebellion. The people love this shit…”
She tucked her hair that had fled her ponytail behind her ears. She still had no idea what was going on, but she decided to play along anyway. Everything felt so real and she wondered what she was supposed to… uhm… not do.
“Listen”, the man said intently. “If you don’t want anything bad to happen, do whatever you don’t want to do… instead of cooking, get delivery, let yourself go. Instead of knitting, learn to ride a motorbike. It’s about breaking out, living a different life. That’s why you applied!”
He was nearly hissing, as if his life depended on her reaction. It was all too much. She felt dizzy, her knees gave way and… she awoke in her bed.
“What is going on now? What was that?”
She had never dreamt this realistic before. She could still feel the fear that had been crawling up her spine when the presenter had talked so intently. Betray her family? Never! The bed rocked gently when her husband turned around. Why was she still feeling so haunted? What dream could do that and why had it felt so real? She decided to go to her friend Marla the next morning. She was one of those New Age Wiccas and knew her way around this stuff a lot better than she did. She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. That’s when she heard the voice of the presenter again…
With a mighty cry the bearded giant threw his axe after the enemy. The axe whirled around its axis and was planted next to the head into the tree. Surprised, as if he had not expected to still have his head upon his shoulders, the attacker looked at the axe which was humming from the impact. Then he looked back up to the giant, gripped his axe and his shield tighter and attacked the giant himself. The giant gripped his shield as if he wanted to simply tackle his enemy to the ground. Then his enemy said: “If an axe is your last weapon, you shouldn’t throw it”, and smiled with pointy, filed teeth…
Detective Martino knew that he looked young and was easily discerned as the newbie, but the barkeeper could have shown a tad more respect.
“I asked whether you know where I can find Natjasska?”
The barkeeper shot him a bored look. He had long, blonde hair, a beard and looked more like an old rocker than a barkeeper. The corners of his tattoos peeked from under his black band-shirt. Maybe he had worked his way up from bouncer to barkeeper. The barkeep jerked his chin grumpily towards the dancefloor and said: “She’s about to dance. Do you want a beer or…”
The eyebrows raised he scrutinised the well-dressed detective. The implication was clear.
“Nothing, thanks. I’m on duty.”
“Could take a while, though. She’s a favourite and sometimes gives encores.”
Martino gestured a “no“ and thanked him for the information. Then he would simply wait at the bar and check the audience. Social background study they called it. When Natjasska entered the stage, Martino knew immediately why she was a favourite. The long, slim legs wound themselves around the pole and every man in the room, including Martino, could not fight the thought of how these legs would feel if Natjasska would sling them around him. The social background study was forgotten. He felt the heat rise. She was a mixture of Salma Hayek in “From Dusk till Dawn” and Monica Belluci in “Le Pacte des Loups” – the sin in the flesh. Martino felt hotter. Suddenly, he heard a “clonk” next to him and saw that the barkeeper had put down a beer, smirking.
“A beer after all? Lowers the blood pressure and cools the head”, he said with an all-knowing grin.
Martino nodded and took a swig, thankful to have something to concern himself with apart from the personified wet dream on the stage.
A melody carried by the contrabass and whispered by the saxophone seemed to ask the smoke of a cigarette for a dance. She contemplated her small silhouette mirrored on the wall of the Vienna Café, arranged her blouse, crossed her legs and, bored, watched the smoke twisting and turning. The Black Friday had thrown everything into chaos. At least for the inexperienced and the careless. She had taken precautions and was waiting for her partner. It was still quite uncommon to be independent as a woman, but she was no woman to cook and clean for her man. She wanted to use the money on herself, live her own life… She didn’t listen to the claptrap of others anymore. She had learned that good advice was usually given out of envy and that bad advice was even more costly than good advice. Now she lived the way she wanted.
“Another coffee, please”, she answered the nice waitress on her question of whether she wanted anything else.
The cigarette of her neighbour was smoked and the smoke had dissolved. The saxophone, though, continued playing its melancholy melody and Maria sighed. He was taking a lot of time again and made her wait. This had to stop. She decided to drink her coffee and to then leave. Two coffees were more than enough waiting-time. If need be, she would have to act without his “burning hot” information. She had done so before and had done well. Intuition was the magic word; the English called this “gut-feeling” and she had enough of that. That she had already proven. But before she could fret further, her tall partner appeared with long strides and took a seat opposite her.
“Where have you been? You’re twenty minutes late!”
“Oh, you are so typisch Deutsch. The last information took me a bit to gather. I had to make a Telefonanruf.”
His English accent was stronger the more nervous he was. This could be a good sign or a bad one…
The cry echoed through the airship.
He sighed. The crew was too young for such a ship. He was called for every little thing and had to run through the whole ship because he never knew whether it wasn’t an emergency for once. Half-running he got on his way and asked the young technician: “What is it now?”
Focused, she checked her instruments and answered: “We are losing pressure in the boiler. I fear we have a hole somewhere, but I cannot find the welder, or rather he isn’t hearing my broadcasts. The pressure-loss…”
“… causes a loss of power of the rotors. I know. Thanks. I’ll take care of it immediately. You broadcast the pressure values to me every minute!”
She nodded: “Yes, Commander!”
He patted her on the shoulder and ran into the direction of the boiler. On his way, he actually found the welder, ripped his head off for his negligence and sent him on hole-search. In the background, the technician rattled down columns of figures which only meant something to a hand-full of the crew, showing them the gravity of their situation. By now the cockpit had started reporting via the broadcasting system, too, keeping him posted about their altitude and the position of the enemy.
Stress. He was used to it, also to nights without sleep, but with this crew, the operations centre had screwed him. How was he supposed to command one of the biggest steamships without a tough crew, pilot it behind the enemy’s lines – without being seen, naturally – and then bomb the headquarters? He had not yet found a solution for this problem. And now another had been added: the damned technics.
Slowly the sun sank behind the high mountains. He lit his little pipe and wondered whether he could bring in the hay tomorrow or whether it would have to wait another day before it was dry enough to be stored through winter without getting mouldy. He shouldered the hay fork and went on his way home. There, his wife and his son were already waiting. He loved his new family life and the proximity to nature he could offer his child. Yet, he was looking longingly at the far peaks of the mountains and dreamed himself far, far away. Sure-footed his legs brought him closer to home and his mouth puffed merrily on his pipe. His thoughts were at the other end of the world. Bright colours flooded his inner eye and transformed into a huge mass of people and a river. Hazily he remembered the faces of those rushing to the river. What he could not forget though, was the face of a little girl. She had talked to him wanting to sell him postcards. He had let himself be talked into buying one out of pity and now he was drowning in the memory of her doe-eyes that looked at him intelligently from out of a round face. It nagged at him that he had only bought a single, useless card. It had been three years now. Shortly afterwards he had gotten to know his wife, married her and had had a child. Everything went like clockwork – for him. But what about the little girl? Her dress had been mended many times, the cloth old and threadbare. She would be around 13 now. Was she going to school more often than not? She had told him that she would use the money to buy schoolbooks for herself and become an interpreter. That had made him go soft and now caused a sharp stab in his heart. What if she was alone on the street? What if her parents had become sick? Was she heading for the gutter that was only a caste away from the lively market streets?
When he opened his front door, he had come to a decision.
“Darling, I’m home!”, he called out.
His wife answered: “Good. Wash your hands, the food is nearly ready.”
He took off his shoes, then, sweaty and with dirty hands, he stood in the kitchen’s doorframe and said: “I’m flying back to India. I have to save a life.”