Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Chamber Pot (short story)

First of all, my memory is not what it used to be so if I am not accurate in my descriptions, it be so.
Secondly, a chamber pot does not live a life any of you would desire. True, I have seen things others don't see but I can assure you the things I have seen have always been a bit.... uhm... smelly.

If a chamber pot still exists, it would probably be cleaned after every use, but not in my days, oh no. We were on guard the whole night and were only emptied in the mornings.
I should not complain though! Some chamber pots lived in less pleasant environments than I.
My life started in a pottery (how applicable...) together with more pots of my kind and a few very posh pots.
We were the majority because the Estate that placed the order had more servants than family members; not an unusual thing in those days. And long term guests often brought their own pots because they were used to the size. And there are many different sizes to fit a bum!

Did you know that the difference in position already started in the pottery? You are wrong thinking we were all made of the same clay. No, we are made of far less delicate raw materials than our fellow posh pots; we are stoneware and they are porcelain. And it is not only the raw materials, it is also the look: the posh pots are often painted with beautiful flowers and other decorations in soft colours and the common pots are not.
I am happy to be a middle class pot (that is how I think of myself), the lower classes are often brown or greyish white without any decoration. I am also taller than most pots and this is because I served both the Lady's maid and the Coachman which broadened my view on people. And I have stripes. Well, that is enough about me.

Chamber pots in general need to be emptied and cleaned on a daily base but I am not sure this happened to all pots, in that respect I was lucky. It was the duty of the scullery maid to collect the content of all potties in the house. She gathered the contents in large white enamelled buckets with a lid. The poor girl had to walk a lot of stairs with those heavy buckets full of human waste (posh and common mixed) and believe me, the smell was terrible. Due to her other duties the rest of the day, she had to hurry but in the meantime being careful not to fall.... The second scullery girl collected the empty pots to clean them in a special built outhouse.

Servants are known for their gossiping and you can't blame them. There was much to talk about, as well as upstairs as downstairs. The more people the more gossip. But let me tell you that their gossiping was nothing comparing to what we had to tell!! After cleaning we rested upside down on iron racks until we were dry and ready for a new night shift. As soon as the scullery maid left the outhouse, we told each other the stories of the past night. When I first stood there amongst more experienced pots, I tried not to keep up with them in terms of gossiping because I was middle class.
But when I noticed that the posh' and the commons participated and that it was more or less 'daily news' instead of 'backbite' (which is a far more appropriate word for us to use...), I heartily joined the party.

I know you are curious now and want to hear about the affairs of his Lordship or even the chauffeur, or the secrets discussed between the daughter of his Lordship and her Lady's maid. Or the complains of the Butler and the Housekeeper about the lower servants but I am not going to tell you these stories now. Maybe some other time as I will most likely still be here for the next couple of years.

I never thought I would retire, I always thought that if not cracked, I would move on to a younger generation of servants but alas, it did not happen.
Tragical really, that the Coachman was the only one who stayed in the house after the family moved when the British economy changed after the second world war.
Servants moved to industrial and much better paid jobs, agricultural prices went through the roof and farmers wanted a better payment. And that did not change during the 50's and 60's. It was called progress.
In the meantime the Estate was only a shell with on the top floor the rooms of the Coachman who did not dare to move to one of the grand rooms, still loyal to his Lordship and well aware of his own manners which became a habit after so many years of serving.

The Lady's Maid left the Coachman for a, in my opinion, conman who was not only charming but also had a better income and a more modern house than the rooms on the top floor.
Now I only had to serve one bum and the older the bum got, the less clean it was as you will imagine.
I was loyal to this single bum but often felt home sick to the days of gossiping in the outhouse. Life was, to say the least, boring.

Photo: @soul_mining (Instagram)
Photo: @soul_mining (Instgram)
But than the day came that the Coachman never returned from his house inspection, carrying a double-barreled shotgun to chase unwanted visitors. I still don't know what happened to him. He might have fallen down the stairs (in that case he was lucky not to carry me), the animals in the forest might have witnessed his final breath. Or maybe he just walked away, tired of living in a room where several layers of wall paper curl down the damp walls. Tired of watching his own face every day in the mirror on top of the chest of drawers and smelling the perfume - still left in the bottle next to the mirror - of his unfaithful Lady's maid. Or tired of carrying me up and down the stairs which is a risky job when your hands start shaking at the older age.
I don't know and I assume I will never know.

Quentin Crisp once said: "After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse". And he was right.
As well on the subject of dust and the content of me. One day you might find me and even have the courage to clean me and to adopt me. Please don't. Please leave me where I belong; under the bed of a long forgotten Coachman at the floor of long forgotten servants.

Word of thanks: the photo of @soul_mining (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Dan!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @soul_mining

Note: the story is (of course) pure fiction!A figment of my imagination!


Monday, July 24, 2017

The Letter (short story)

 'My Love,

My hands can not hold a pen any more. The red knuckles are swollen like marbles and my fingers grow in the wrong directions.
Do you remember when we were still children with elastic muscles that we crossed our fingers, one over the other? That is how my hands look now. I am glad you can't see this, it would have upset you.
The pink and ring finger are the worst but my fore finger is the best of all and allows me to type a letter to you. It is a slow process as you will understand but you have all the time of the world to read it.

I am in a strange mood. I thought I got used to my solitary existence but strangely enough I didn't. My thoughts often wander off to the old days when we still lived together. Married as in 'happily ever after'.
Have we been happy? Yes. We were childhood lovers, we knew each other so very well, our marriage couldn't go wrong. How wrong we were but let not dwell on this right now.
I still remember our wedding day with all the love and laughters, all the expectations for the future; our future.
We did not have a great income but you were determined to climb the social ladder and I was more than willing to hold that ladder, to support you where ever I could. I promised to do so and I kept my promise. You asked me to support you and that is what I did...... till death did us part.

Do you remember how we loved to curl up on the sofa? Or in bed? We became great lovers and memories of our intimacy still cause that special warm feeling. Or our arms wrapped around each other, talking about our dreams. Your dreams were more demanding than mine. You wanted a family, a job with status and an appropriate  income, a bigger house, being a member of The Lions and the Golf club. And, not to forget, a perfect and elegant, good looking wife to impress your colleagues and friends to be.
My wish list was a family home, children, a house and a garden, hugs and love, a dog. Could I ever dream that the only wish we had in common was children....
Maybe the house too but mine was cosy and big enough for our family. Yours was to impress, pompous and in my humble opinion, horrible.
You were generous and  promised me on forehand a house keeper, a nanny and a gardener. Well, I thought it was generous but I learned otherwise.

You ticked almost all the boxes on your wish list, almost. The children box was never ticked. At first you blamed yourself but soon you blamed me, not openly, I did not even notice it in the beginning. I did not recognize the early signs of mental abuse. I have to admit that you were very, very good at that. I am not going to repeat all the details, you know exactly what you have done to me. But what you did not know was that you forced me to play my own game. I had to to survive, to stay close to me. And when I finally, after so many years, saw through you, I became even better in playing mental games than you.

You never found out did you, that I became the best actress ever and that I only acted like the manipulated wife you created. Created in your mind my love, not in real!
You hated your sudden hair loss, you were so proud of the dark curly hair you inherited from your mother. You had never been ill before so you hated the so called influenza that caused stomach and belly pains and vomiting. Not long after you recovered but within half a year it started all over again. The doctor said you were stressed. The demanding job, the long hours, a holiday would do you good. And it did. A year after, the same thing happened again but you felt worse than ever. Strong as you were, you recovered again. But my love, you were not smart enough to know it wasn't a influenza! And it was not due to stress! Not at all, but I played my game so very well that no one was surprised when you finally died. They spoke beautiful words at your grave. Your business partner mentioned he had never seen a man before who was so dedicated to his work.

And I? I played the grieving widow. And I played it very, very well. I almost believed my own grief, I almost felt the pain for your loss. I played it so well that people never noticed the joy in my heart. The joy about my freedom and most of all the joy because I won the game you started!

Photo: Forgotten Heritage

Did you notice the Crow who watched your funeral? He and I became very good friends. He knows my moods and when my mood is as dark as his deep purple and black feathers, he talks to me. His hoarsely voice causes great fear with people who don't know him but not with me. He waits for me to finish the letter and to take it to your grave. This will also be my goodbye to my feathered friend. I have done what I wanted to do. I have enjoyed my victory long enough and it is time to go.
All that will be left is the two cups with the residue of what ended our lives. They lay next to the type writer and your portrait, guarded by the Crow who will be faithful to me until his own death.
Goodbye my love......'

Word of thanks: the photo of @forgottenheritage (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Matt!

Link: the beautiful book Forgotten Heritage by Matthew Emmett

Note: the story is pure fiction!A figment of my imagination!


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dance! (short story)

I swivel round and round and round....I hold the imaginary she in my arms: one hand at her lower back (not too low, I would not dare to do so) and the other hand holds hers.
Our feet easily manage the complicated pattern of our dance. And round and round again we go.

I look her in the eyes and drown in their blue depth, like drowning in a deep lake where the water nymphs sing their tempting songs. The music makes us move like one body. Her steps follow mine in a split second, only a careful observer sees the tiny difference. I am an excellent leader and she an excellent charming follower. We are causing little tornados of dust on the wooden floor but we don't care. We are not aware of the room we are in. All we are aware of is the music and the energy that makes us dance if we were born to do so.

You don't know me and you will never know me, that is why I tell you my little story. Please don't go, it will not take long and you might be curious how it ends.
I was born a long long time ago in a tiny little house in the woods. My parents married at a young age but never had children until they were almost middle aged. Mind you that 40 was called middle aged in their days.  I was their first and only child and there fore had a different upbringing than most children.
When you are young parents and you have a few toddlers, you still love them and care for them and protect them against bad things of course but at an older age with only one, my parents were over protective.
They kept me at home, within sight. They taught me reading, writing and numbers but did not allow me to go to school. I did not have friends, no one ever came to our house to play with me. I did not mind, my dog was my best friend, the forest my playground and my parents loved me with all the love they had to give which was more than some children get.

Yes, I was a happy child, very happy.
I know you are not stupid and wondering how I got on being a teenager. It is fairly normal for teenagers - so I am told - to be obstinate and stubborn, teasing their parents who, they think, do everything wrong being extraordinary 'old fashioned'. I am glad to tell you I wasn't such a teenager. "Bless your parents" I hear you say.
But did I ever meet a girl? Did I ever fall in love? Did I ever had a job? No, no and no.
I wasn't even aware of the fact that there were younger editions of the species of my  mother. And when my parents died, not long after each other, they left me in reasonable wealth. They saved every penny, just if they knew I needed it because, and here I am very honest, I was not at all socialized. I would never survive in the normal world.

I did not know about that world until I found literally, a small piece of it in the attic.
A place I wasn't allowed to go, a decision I never questioned.
It took a long time before I opened the door to the attic as I still respected my parents.
I don't know how I found the courage to go there; or maybe it was the knowledge that the whole house was mine, I can't recall.
The fact is, I went there on a sunny afternoon. I did not know what to expect but I certainly never expected an almost empty room with one table and a (as I understood from the little booklet that lay beside it) a gramophone. And a box of records. Good reading and practising (hard to avoid a few scratches) I learned to play the records and to listen to the music. I was astonished, I had never in my live heard something as beautiful as this. I did not even think of how it arrived in our house, where it came from and why I had never heard music before. Yes, the wind in the trees was music but this was so different!
Photo: Darren Nisbett Fine Art Photography
I moved the gramophone downstairs and listened to Leo Reisman and his Orchestra, Cannon's Jug Stompers, Vera Lynn (who became my dream woman and dance companion), Cole Porter and many, many others.
I noticed that I had a good feeling for rhythm and soon my feet lived their own life. They danced with me through the room, made me turn, swivel, jump and something that must have looked like the Charleston as
my feet went crazy!

I danced, danced and danced every day, every month and every year. I danced from the 40's into the 50's. At first I danced alone but than came she. I danced right through life into death. And even now I still dance and the music still playes.
And you my dear visitor, if you listen very carefully and beyond the dusty silence of my long abandoned house, might even hear the music. Might even here me calling "Dance!!!"


Word of thanks: the photo of @darrennisbett (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Darren!

Link: the beautiful website Darren Nisbett Fine Art Photography

Note: the story is pure fiction!A figment of my imagination!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Last Call (short story)

   His arms tightly pressed against his stomach to ease the pain of hunger, he sat on a chair and balanced his body back and forth. The cracking noise of the old chair was the only sound in the basement. There was no light and no fresh air.
The man who was not taller than a 6 year old child, did not understand what was going on. His tears formed irregular grey stripes on his stale cheeks but he did not wipe them off.

   He could not remember how long he was sitting there, he lost touch with time and reality. And there was not only silence in the basement but the whole house was dabbled in stillness. He did not speak. Father and son never spoke to each other. The father did not know what to say to what he called 'the creature that was called his son'. The father could not bare the sight of the child with the enormous head on a body with short legs and arms, drooling like a baby and not able to say clear words.
But the father never took the effort to teach his son words, he never had the patience his wife had  but she died of a broken heart when the boy was 3 years old.

   The man could not remember his mother any more. Although, sometimes, listening to the quiet sound of little rat feet rummaging the straw of his mattress in the basement or the moving curtains whispering in the wind blowing through the broken windows in the kitchen upstairs, he thought he heard her sweet voice, calling him by a name he could not repeat.
The basement was so familiar, he spent so many hours here after his father locked him up when there were voices at the door. His father felt ashamed and no one knew about the child who now became a man.
The last visitor was a while ago but he did not know how many days. And ever since there was this complete silence.

   The hunger forced him to leave the basement and not without great fear, he climbed the concrete stairs, pushed the shutter in the floor open and entered the kitchen; the only place he knew. All other doors in the house were locked and knowing this, he did not even think of opening them.
He made a strange noise when he finally realized he was all on his own. He did not see his father or any other person. It confused him but it did not bother him too much. He looked around and found the phone off the hook. He never understood where this black machine was for but he remembered his father occasionally talking to it and than placing the horn back. He also remembered his father turning the disk with all the holes and he wondered why. He climbed the chair in front of the desk and imitated his father by placing the horn back, lifting it again and turning the disk. While he held the horn against his ear, he heard the voice of a woman who said "Hello?". The voice sounded familiar and he wanted to say something but his untrained vocal cords only produced a raw sound. Than the woman hang up.
He was devastated and wanted to hear her again. He dialled and dialled. Sometimes he heard a man's voice which frightened him, sometimes a woman and sometimes a buzzing sound. Every time he heard a gentle voice he tried to say that one and only word from the past that slowly drifted to his conscious: "Mo.... Mo...."

Photo: 'soul_mining'
   Eager to hear that soft voice again, he did not give up and only stopped when he needed something to drink. When there was no water left any more, he managed to open the bottles, again imitating is father. He placed all bottles on the desk and drank when thirsty. After each drink he felt warm inside and it eased the hunger. Than the day came that there were no voices any more. Ad no buzzing sounds; the phone kept quiet which terrified the man tremendously. He tried to repair the wire with pieces of string he found in various drawers but silence remained. He kept on drinking and dialling until he panicked.
The passed sound of all voices he had heard, all buzzing sounds, swirled around in his head like leaves in an Autumn storm. He grabbed his head and ran around in circles, trying to hide for the cacophony of sounds that drove him mad. It was than when he remembered the shutter that lead to the stairs to the basement. The basement where he was put when there were voices in the house. He used all his energy to lift the shutter, the hinges made a squeaking sound. He finally managed to put his foot on the stair and still panicking he tried to move his short legs downstairs. He lost grip and fell; his body spinning round like a doll made of fluffy cloths. It was only seconds before the shutter fell back in place and only seconds before his head touched the ground with a sickening cracking sound that he finally shouted: "Mommy!!!!!"

   "Hello??" He listened to the soft feminine voice. "Hello? Anybody home?". But he could not answer any more. His body long ago mingled with the dust of the basement floor and nobody would ever recognize him. Still he tried to call and call.
The girl who entered the abandoned house could swear that some one answered her hello and when she repeated it, she heard it again at the same time the curtains moved in the wind that blew through the broken windows in the kitchen.


Word of thanks: the photo of @soul_mining (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Dan!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @soul_mining

Note: the story is pure fiction!A figment of my imagination!

Writing Contest

Participating in a writing contest is not only exciting but also fun!! Particularly with two stories....
Which one will be on the longlist? Everything beyond the longlist is a bonus!

Some stories evolve during writing, others in my head for days before I get my laptop to put them on 'paper'.
I often know the end and from there the rest of the story develops. And the last part is the titel.
This was the same during the last contest with the subject 'The Sun'. We were all free to write what we wanted as long as we focussed on 'the sun'. One story evolved on 'paper' and the other in my head.

After I e-mailed them to the publisher I tried not to think of the date of the dead line. Instead I concentrated on writing my book and short stories on both my Blog's (Dutch and English).
Because I wasn't successful with a previous contest from a different publisher (which only encouraged me to participate in others) I didn't expect a positive outcome. Who cares, writing is a passion and I have enough imagination to write for the rest of my life!

But this morning I received an e-mail from the Publisher Leessst which said "Congratulations".
It turned out that not only one story will be published but both! And not only both, I am also one of the winners, second to be precise. I have to admit that I read the e-mail a few times before I understood it all; it had to sink in. I was not only over the moon but also very, very thankful!! And of course I want to congratulate my fellow participants who won the first and the third place! I am so much looking forward to read your (and all other) stories!

There are 51 authors in total and all stories will be published in an e-book (from August 1 for sale at and Kobo. If you read Dutch it is worth to buy it because from every book sold, one Euro goes to a Dutch Cancer Foundation called 'KWF Kankerbestrijding'.

The paperback will be for sale too for 12,95 Euro excl. P&P but you need to order it before August 1 - 2017. More information in Dutch on Leessst.

Last but not least a big thank you to all members of the jury who did such a great job reading all the stories of all participants. I would love to give you a hug!!


Monday, July 03, 2017

The Camera (short story)

There is almost complete silence but a good listener hears the sound of the flies who want to escape through the windows. Or the occasional flutter of the wings of a moth or butterfly who also craves for light and fresh air but soon will be caught by the sticky threads of the numerous cob webs that hang strategically in the corners of the filthy windows.
The windowsills and floors are covered in tiny dead bodies of insects that were never meant to live a long life but who died in a desolated decaying black and white world where dust prevents the light to penetrate the rooms.

It is a warm Summer day and the smell is that of dust and old chalk hanging down the wall like grey and forgotten lace. It is only occasionally that the chalk decides to let go because it is tired of holding on to walls that are filled with moist during rainy seasons and crumbling of thirst during days as today.
I do not mind warm days although the times that the wind whistles its way through the cracks in the half rotten roof, are more in line with my usual moods. It is that sound that is my language, the hauling and  the spooky effects are I.
Often visitors don't hear the difference but as soon as they see me, they know the difference. Needless to say I will never see them again. I don't mind, it cheers me up!

The whole house is mine but my bedroom is a place where I do not want to see anyone else and I am often successful in scaring my visitors before they discover my room.
It has always been my room, since I was born. It was a place I loved to be until I reached the age that my father noticed I was not his little girl any more but a beautiful (forgive me for saying such vain things about myself) young woman. At this point his attitude changed and he more or less locked me up in my room. My mother begged him not to do so but the begging stopped. Even worse, I was not allowed to leave my room any more and did not know my mother had died until I died too.
Don't be afraid that I will bore you with this story today.

Photo: Darren Nisbett Fine Art Photography
Since my death my room hasn't changed much; my bed is still there with my favourite pillow where you can see the print of my head. The pillow that contains most of the tears I shed in all those years. If I am tired of dwelling through the house, I rest on this bed but leave no prints any more.
I don't leave prints on the floors either but leave mental prints in the heads of my visitors.
You will ask why I do not lock the front door to keep visitors out, well I did but to no avail, the visitors keep coming, it is the state of the house and the decoration that attracts them. I don't know why, it is old, half rotten and dusty.
But they keep coming and although I scare them off, I am also very jealous of their freedom. They can walk out the broken door where I have to stay inside. My death did not change the situation, I am still a prisoner of this house which I hate so much.

It is that hate that makes me more and more hostile and the longer I stay here, the more I look for ways to escape. And I found one! It took me a long time to understand how and when but it is only today, when the man with the advanced photo camera arrived that I know how.
He does not see or hear me, he looks immune to my power and visibility. And he enters my room which no-one had ever done before since the day I died.
A very strange feeling comes over me, I see no need any more to haunt him. Instead I follow him and look through the lens of his camera which allows me a totally different view on my world. Imagine that I could enter the camera!!

I see what he sees: the diffuse light peeping through the filthy windows, lightening the old curtains, the bed but most of all my nightgown. And it is in this nightgown that I recognize myself. Hanging to be forgotten, to pulverize to dust.
I am impressed by the way he captures my room and realize he sees beyond the dust. It feels he looks into the past, it feels he steps into my world.  With the photo he pays respect to my past, something I  never encountered before. His respect makes me aware that I can finally leave this house. Although I do not know anything about the modern world, I am a ghost and move through doors and walls. So I move inside his camera, nestling myself in the photo of my bedroom, knowing this is going to be my new world.

The house is now allowed to decay further and further, people can now explore my room; I found a new one. I do not know what my new future looks like, I do not even know if I can leave this camera again but I know when I am in the right mood again, I may haunt my new friend. Or even you!!


 Word of thanks: the photo of @darrennisbett (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Darren!

Link: the beautiful website Darren Nisbett Fine Art Photography

Note: the story is (of course) pure fiction!A figment of my imagination!