dinsdag 2 december 2014

Being in the Way

Teenagers can be very tiring I noticed when I tried to sleep in my cabin on the ferry. Especially when there are some 20 of them and no adult in sight. I noticed them already in the bar the night before. They were having drinks and became louder and louder. In the night the boys wanted to meet the girls or the other way around,  and I happened to have a cabin right in between theirs.

So I stepped dead-tired on the train the next morning. I was the first in the compartment, so I found myself a very strategic seat, a bit near the door but yet not too near. It was 3-persons bench and opposite me was a 2-person one. I put my backpack next to me, crawled in the corner and tried to get an extra nap on the non-moving train. After some time more people came in, without disturbing me. I wasn’t really asleep but felt like a person that was looking at things almost unaware.

It was all too good to be true: right after there was an announcement on the intercom that this was the train to London, my self-chosen solitude was over. A woman with backpack and two suitcases came over and behind her a man with a lot of luggage. I had never seen a person dragging so much along. They began to make a sort of still-life with their luggage and I put my backpack between my feet. Most of their suitcases were put on the floor too, but it was too much so he put some on the bench and sat next to me while she sat on the opposite one with a backpack. Immediately the train left the station.

They looked like they were even more tired than me;  they must have travelled a long way.  That was proven when he produced a printout.  I could read that it looked like a reservation for a hotel somewhere in London and that this came from a Spanish website. Together they studied the map of the London subway. It seemed they agreed,  my knowledge of Spanish is totally none.  She got the backpack from her bench and put it on top of a suitcase and made a gesture that he should come over to her. She looked quite ravishing to me but he was too tired to feel tempted and shook his head and said something. She shrugged and joined him in yawning.

After a few stations some people had left the compartment and no new people had come in.
She sort of woke up, got up and I thought she would go for the toilet. But she went the other way and called the man. He took a look at her, next to two empty benches, looked at the luggage, shouted something back and sank back on the bench again. She came back and was now totally restless. She couldn’t find a nice way to sit, even took off her shoes and sat on her knees on the bench. Because of this she gave me a generous view on her bottom cleavage. She had this nice coloured skin all over her body. She must have been born this way or taking sunbaths in the nude, I couldn’t help think. But she moved in another position already, a bit like mine and pulled down her sweater.

When I heard the intercom calling my destination being the next station I got up with my back pack and moved to the doors. I heard some rustling behind me.  The train stopped and I got out, but I couldn’t resist having a last look on the couple. She had taken my place and snuggled up against him. He had his arms around her and they kissed.
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A Dog in the Brewery

We love visiting breweries. So it was not unexpected that you could find my wife and me on this afternoon enjoying a blonde beer in the brewery in my hometown. It was not very crowded, it just felt cosy.  The people were four elderly men accompanied by a woman of half their age. They were testing the different types of beer and the woman was sounding like someone with a lot of knowledge about this.  Maybe she had been brewing herself, like my wife.  She had attracted the attention of the brewer himself who was testing a new  product with two other men.

At another table was a couple of around fifty with their son who seemed to have Down’s Syndrome. Except for his looks you couldn’t tell his problems. His parents didn’t have to consider this a long time before they gave him a beer too.

In came a father of around forty and his son of around sixteen. In everything it showed that this should be special for the boy. It felt like this was a divorced father and his son. This was his weekend and father had decided to make it worthwhile. So the boy was going to have his first beer.  They had some discussions before ordering, the bartender gave advice.  And he came with a bowl of water for the dog that the father had bound to the table.  The boy shook his head, “Did you really have to take Tommy along?  Now you will have to go out of the bar again soon.”  The father assured him that the dog was okay; he had delivered a short while ago, according to the man. And where else could the dog have stayed?

The brewer walked up to the lady who knew so much about beer and poured some of the new brew in her empty glass.  She had a good look at it,  swirled  her glass, nodded approvingly and then had a careful sip.  She made a gesture to the brewer: PERFECT! He poured some more in her glass and toasted with her.  One of the elderly men had ordered a new round for the others.

We asked the bartender for two more beers and after a short time the parents with the handicapped child did the same.  The divorced father had emptied his glass and was waiting for the boy to finish his. He asked him if he liked it. The boy seemed to shiver a bit and said that it was lovely.  So the man wanted him to finish his beer, so they could have another one.  The boy asked his father to take it easy on him and just order one for himself.  This he did.

When the beer had been delivered, the father stood up and went to the bartender.  He came back with a bundle of paper towels and started to pick up something on the floor next to the dog.  He went with the bundle to the toilets and then emptied his glass in one gulp.  “Come, we go” he said to his son.

The boy’s glass still wasn’t finished but he didn’t complain.  He unbound the dog and they went.
The other guests sniffed the air and drank their beers in great haste.  We did the same.  The brewer went to the brewery rooms behind the bar.  The stench was really awful.  Within five minutes the whole bar was empty for the bartender.
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Interfering

For years and years two blackbirds consider my garden as their territory. At least I think these are the same birds. They can reach the age of five, so there must have been a change a few times.

In the spring they are both very busy collecting material for their nest, that must be very near my garden. After that they almost seem to have disappeared. But in a few weeks they return and bring their children along. These look almost fat and are quite clumsy in their flying and walking the first days you see them. After a few weeks you will only see the couple again, the young have moved out.

This spring it was the first time Henry the cat was here. Why she’s called “Henry” is another story.
Till that morning I only had seen her chasing flies and without any success.

We were having a late breakfast in the weekend when we were disturbed by a lot of noise coming from the garden. Henry was being attacked by the blackbird couple. She almost crawled on the ground forward while the birds were swooping towards her head. Then I saw the reason for the aggression of these birds. A little one was trapped near the shed. It must have been very frightened, it seemed to be paralyzed by fear for the cat.

Should I let nature have its way? I could be very proud of Henry. Catching her very first prey.
But this seemed to be a very unfair thing to me. It was like former Russian president Yeltsin on bear hunt. His staff would drug a few, so they would not be able to move a muscle. In that way he was able to shoot them. I’m being told this method is used for hunting parties of some Royal families as well.

Anyway, I couldn’t bear to watch this and got out in the garden. I grabbed Henry and put her inside.
She almost went crazy and jumped against the window in the door.
The young bird was still sitting in the same position. It’s brothers and sister were on the fence with the mother. Papa went down to the ground to the little one and sort of showed what to do. He flew from the ground back to the fence. The little one’s heart seemed to beat in it’s throat and it didn’t follow.

It took more than five minutes before it was able to move again. There were some trials to lift off the ground, but they didn’t succeed. The father flew to the ground and back on the fence and sort of yelled. Finally it took off and made it to the pick-nick table that is in my garden. After a little rest the next step was made. It landed next to the father.

After I got a new cup of coffee the whole family was gone.
Henry was still jumping in front of the door, it was now okay to let her go. Immediately she ran over to the place where the young bird had been trapped and sniffed all around.

The father reappeared on the fence and looked at this scene for a while. Then he flew away with a sound that really resembled laughter.
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Relaxed Life and Proper Money

While staying at La Tour Blanche in Forest-Montiers we noticed that there is not a single restaurant or bar in the little village. A lot of houses are empty. According to Wikipedia 547 people live here. But that was in 1999. It must be much less nowadays. It’s a typical situation for the north of France. Of course you can find enough places where you can eat or drink in the bigger towns like Rue, Saint Valerie sur Somme or Abbeville. We thought there would be more than this. Exploring a region is something we always like to do.

So we drove on a warm and sunny day to Ponthoile. It seemed even smaller than Forest-Montiers. In the middle of the village you can see 4 different roads, they lead to Forest-Montiers, Morlay, Nouvion and Noyelles. Very cleverly at that spot is a building that reminds of an inn, a public-house. Nowadays you can get your petrol over there from an ancient petrol station. There’s plenty of room in the building so there’s also a bar and a little shop where the local people do their shopping.

After getting some petrol we decided to sit in front of the building enjoying a perfect draught beer. You could see that the elderly lady behind the counter and bar was very experienced as a bartender.
She was very friendly and we almost felt tempted to stay inside. But the weather was so nice on this wonderful day in the spring of 2009 that this would have been a shame to do.

While we enjoyed our beer, people who came on bicycles followed our example. They sat down with a lemonade, spoke a sort of Flemish and went again very soon. On the right we could see the graveyard where a few people were taking care of some graves. An official looking man was walking around with a bundle of keys that would have made a warder jealous. He checked the doors of a sort of shed that was next to a perfect lawn. On that lawn we saw two elderly couples laying in the grass.

A man from that company walked over with two empty beer glasses. Before he could reach the building a car stopped. The driver let the engine run and a woman ran inside and came back within seconds with a few packets of cigarettes. She jumped in the car and they drove away. The bartender/shopkeeper must be very efficient. The man went in the building and came back with two filled glasses and walked back to his company. I have never seen this before. In the Netherlands you would get plastic cups, they would never trust you with glasses. And I couldn’t imagine that this would happen in the UK either.

After four more cars with men behind the steering wheel and women who ran in for cigarettes, the man came back and delivered the glasses to the bartender/shopkeeper. She obviously knew who to trust.
When I wanted to pay, a woman and a girl came with a car and went into the shop department.
They didn’t need to wait a long time, they were served very quickly and yet in a very friendly way.

I had to pay for the petrol and the beer so decided to pay with my credit card. The lady frowned when she saw the card and sighed. She messed a bit with the machine and nothing happened. She wiped my card, sighed and tried again. But nothing happened. She said a French word I didn’t know. Probably not a very nice word.

From the back of the building an elderly man and a younger woman appeared. The man took the card from her hands and also the machine and then I had paid within seconds. The lady said that she was never going to get used to this modern paying. Why did people not pay with proper money? The girl and the man laughed out loud. When we left the lady was still shaking her head.


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The End of the World

It was July 29 1960 and we were heading to our most beloved spot in the forest, Sandy Plains. The children living on the edge of this forest were used to going in groups and walking long distances. On this day our group consisted of my oldest sister and me, the boy and girl from next door and a girl of the same age as my sister. My sister was 12, the rest was of the same age or 2 years younger. I was 3 years younger and I was very pleased that they allowed me to go along.

When we reached Sandy Plains, we decided to stay there the rest of the day. Like always we had taken sandwiches along and a bottle of water. Our mothers knew that we would stay away for some time. The weather was wonderful and the sand almost reflected the light from the sun. It was very white and clean; there should have been sea to complete a perfect beach. Instead it was surrounded by ancient pine trees.

We all sat down on the warm sand and suddenly the boy from next door started to talk about the end of the world. According to what he heard we would all perish at 2 pm. Nobody had a watch, but we knew it was about noon, so we had some time left. We discussed how it would happen. I had read about the atom bomb in a political magazine and about the crisis in Germany where the West was in dispute with the Soviets. There were predictions about the cutting off of Eastern Germany. I knew everything about Nikita Khrushchev, Walter Ulbricht, John Kennedy and Willy Brandt, the mayor of Berlin. In the Congo were troubles around Patrice Lumumba and I had seen pictures of Belgian and French people fleeing to Europe because of the violence.

My sister said that there was nothing to be afraid of, we always stayed out of fights. The Netherlands couldn’t do anything, we had no atom bomb. The prime minister, Jan de Quay, was only worried about the wild youngsters called “nozems”. They scared the elderly with their noisy mopeds and their black leather jackets and greasy hair. My sister was sure she would never have a boyfriend like that. The other girls agreed about that. I didn’t know about this. My knowledge came from that political magazine that nobody read in our family and it had nothing about these youngsters.

Every week we got a set of second hand magazines. It belonged to a system that gave you the right to read the magazines in a week and after that they were replaced by newer. We had the cheapest edition: our magazines were 6 weeks old and very much maltreated but we were allowed to keep them and get a newer set anyway. I was supposed to be happy with Donald Duck and another magazine with comics. The other magazines were mostly meant for housewives except for a silly one. It had pictures in black and white of girls in bathing suits. They were film stars and posed in Cannes or such places. And there were jokes about women who had to go to the doctor. It was not my cup of tea. So I read this political thing that always looked like new.

We all agreed that we must be on one of the better spots on earth. We could be seen from outer space and be saved. The boy from next door thought God might do this, the oldest girl knew for sure the Martians would come. But maybe they were no saviors but attackers. My sister knew that if there was going to be a Flood, we would be safe. We were on quite a high point on Sandy Plains.

We ate our sandwiches and drank the water and the sun kept on shining. We all lay down, became quiet and almost slept for some time. The sun was much lower in the sky when we looked around us again. We were sure the hour was later than 2 PM. So we were spared if anything had happened. We decided to go home and see if everything was still there.

Near home we could hear some mothers calling that dinner was ready.

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maandag 1 december 2014

My Special Gift

Anxiety made it impossible for me to sleep that night. Still I was very much awake when I was standing in the hall of the airport waiting for you the next morning. I felt sharp as a needle. It was so unexpected, I thought we would be sending messages and chatting on line a lot longer. I was afraid to push too hard and to scare you away by doing this. So it wasn’t me who decided to meet in the real world, you were the brave person who did this.

So here I was with the feeling that my heart was beating in my throat. What if you didn’t show up, things like that happen often. Relationships starting on the internet are not always very successful.
I had read very sad stories about people who had sent everybody away for weeks because their internet friend would come over and who ended up being alone for weeks feeling miserable.

But suddenly: there you were and it was so easy to recognise you. You looked like a gift waiting to be unwrapped, so lovely. I ran over to you and there was no hesitation: we kissed full on the lips.
And you pushed your body to mine. I held you and we really felt like we were fitting perfectly together. After some minutes I realised it was no use standing over here for ages. So I grabbed your suitcase with one hand and with the other I grabbed yours. I was not letting you go any more!

We walked over to the car park, stopping now and again to look at each other and to give a new kiss. We hardly talked, just managed to talk about the flight you had. I had to let go of your hand to pay the parking meter, but I immediately I grabbed it again. When we reached the car I suggested with a croaky voice that we were going straight to the bat cave. You agreed eagerly.

In the car I suggested putting on the radio but you said you wanted to concentrate on the sight of me and the landscape. We drove on the highway and I really wanted to get home quicker instead of the 45 minutes it normally takes to go from the airport to home. My hand got on your knee and you let yourself slide downwards from your chair a bit. My hand reached the border of your stocking and found your soft skin.

Next to me a horn honked. Maybe I got too close to the truck next to me or maybe the driver was jealous. I withdrew my hand and said I didn’t want to ruin our first time together with a car accident. So I would concentrate on the road again. You agreed and sat up straight again. It did take us the normal 45 minutes and we were not very talkative, I could only feel this painful longing to hold you close to me.

We were very happy to finally arrive and we rushed into the house. I wanted to offer to show you the house, but we just ran upstairs. How you knew, I don’t know, but you immediately chose the right door to my bedroom.

I scraped my throat and suggested that I should unwrap my present and started to fumble with some buttons. You took over hastily while I concentrated on undressing myself.
We jumped in bed at the same time and our bodies found each other. We kissed like I never had kissed before and our bodies got tangled up in a knot that I thought of being impossible to be ever undone.

Some Girls are Not Nice

The people in Spakenburg, a village in the Netherlands, used to depend totally on fish. It used to be a fisherman’s harbour when the village was on the Zuiderzee. The Dutch fight against the water has changed a lot. The people still go fishing but the water has changed, the water in the IJsselmeer isn’t salt. The nature of the people didn’t change: they form a hard working community.

So hearing a girl on a terrace near the harbour telling that she now has two jobs, is not very surprising. What followed was not very nice.

We were sitting not even that near and I tried not to overhear things but she and her girlfriends were quite loud mouthed.

One mentioned that another friend had got a new scooter. The girl with two jobs came to the conclusion that she was just a spoiled brat to get this from your parents. One of the other girls knew more about it and told that she got into an accident with the old one. The insurance gave almost enough for a new one, she had added some of her own and the father only paid 50 Euro.

The verdict didn’t change: a spoiled brat! Even the addition that the father loaned the money didn’t help …

A girl came by. Remark about her: she is such a whore. One of the others told that she was with a boyfriend already two years. This was her first and only boyfriend as far as she knew. Verdict: she has horny eyes just like her mother.

A girl on crutches passed by. She was considered to show off. For sure she was faking her walking troubles. To me it looked like she had a broken leg…

Then they had to dive under the table: the grandma was passing by. She didn’t feel like blabbering with her. The old woman would never stop.
Grandma did see her and said “Hi Sweetie!” and just went on.

Our negative girl told that she had been french kissing with a guy. The others were amazed because they knew he was with another girl for months already. Of course she knew this, the stupid turd became angry with her. It was her own fault, she should have been dancing with him instead of talking to friends. That she had cried a lot after hearing about it couldn’t bother her. It was just fun though he wasn’t much of a kisser.

One of the girls had a new tattoo on her leg. The others begged her to show it and so she did. There was a ruffle of clothes, I don’t know where it was placed.
One of the others liked it but our negative girl thought it was totally shit. Her friend should go back and ask her money back. She went on and on about it. In the end they all agreed on it. The girl was going to the tattoo shop next week to get it redone or get a refund.

They all had finished their drinks, so they decided to leave the terrace. The table was not very stable and they bumped against it. The result was that their plates and cups fell on the floor.
One girl wanted to clear the floor, but was stopped by the others.
“Just don’t bother! We paid for this!” and off they went.

A Darker Side of Paris

It was in the lovely spring of 1975. The two former students were very happy to get the opportunity to visit the city of light, Paris. That they had to travel with a group of new colleagues of one of them was not very important to them. There was a whole schedule figured out where the group would go and at what time. They got a copy of that schedule from one of the organisers, just tore it to pieces and threw these in the waste bin in the train. They had their own plans!

When the company arrived in the morning at the station Gare du Nord, they marched like a group of geese to the hotel. It was not very far but the load of beer the young men had been drinking during the night on the train caused a headache for both of them. So they were glad that the distance to the hotel was not very far. Their company agreed to have breakfast in an hour, but the youngsters excused themselves and said they were going to lay down for a while. The others looked at each other without concealing their annoyance with this behaviour.

In the late afternoon they went from the room they shared downstairs to the dining room. Their group had left hours before to see the tourist sights you ought to have seen when you have been in Paris. There was no possibility for a little meal the staff of the hotel told them. They shrugged and went to the nearest Metro station. They decided to visit Montmartre first, for sure they would find something to eat over there.

In the Metro they started a conversation with two girls who were very generous and shared their baguette and camembert with them. The girls insisted that they would visit a concert the next night. The band should be awesome. Vaguely they knew the name, it was a French band that played a sort of symphonic rock music. So an appointment was made, they would meet in front of the tent where the concert would be in.

Montmartre proved to be a bit boring in the opinion of the boys, so they went to a brasserie ordered beer and some snacks and soon felt really okay again. New plans for the evening were made. They would go to Place Pigalle, the red light district of Paris is around this square. They would visit some clubs, just have fun and not being bored by their group at the dinner table.
After visiting some normal bars it got dark and they discussed the situation of one of them. He just found himself a new place but had no glasses. Here in Paris were nice beer glasses nobody had in their own country. They decided to get at least one beer glass from every bar from then on.

Leaving the next bar was almost impossible for them, they both had a laugh fit and went outside while glasses were clinging under their coats. Outside they thought about a logistic problem: how to walk around all the time with these glasses. So a porch in front of very dark house was chosen to drop the glasses over there. When they would feel like going back to the hotel they would collect them again.

Having drunk a few made them bold enough to go to a club. They agreed not to buy champagne, would stick to beer. It would be expensive enough already. The prediction proved to be right, for this price they could drink five beers at home in a bar. But the club was really special!

There was a stage completely draped in red velvet. On this a blond girl in lingerie was sitting on a chair. She seemed to have one duty over there: to look pretty. The young men agreed that she really was attractive, but took better notice of a girl with a darker skin and raven black hair at her feet. This girl really was gorgeous and the less pretty lingerie could not hide this.

After a while one of the young men thought he saw the blond wave at him. He looked questioningly and pointed at himself. The blond nodded and gestured with her finger that he should approach. He went over to the stage and the blond asked him to sit on the edge. She started a conversation: where they came from and such. She made amazed sounds and told him he could sleep with her for only 300 francs. He was quite startled and had to seek for words. This was made even harder by the dark haired girl who sat next to him. She put her hand on his crotch and made encouraging gestures over there. It seemed to be ages before he was able to answer the proposition. He explained that they were students and didn’t have much money to spend.

The blond reacted disappointed and asked if the boys would give her and her girlfriend champagne because they were quite thirsty. The dark girl nodded and played with the buttons on his fly. When he said no, she withdrew her hand like she was bitten by some wild animal. The blond waved the young man away, so he walked a bit awkward back to his friend. Of course he had to explain what had been going on.
Suddenly the club didn’t look that nice. The velvet was a bit worn and they agreed that the blond was wearing a wig. The waiters looked a bit unfriendly and huge. They decided to leave without glasses. Outside they agreed not to try another club but just go to another bar. And they should take a way at least one glass. This was agreed with a sort of oath.

In that bar the price for beer was a bit more normal. Two women came sitting on the stools next to them at the bar. They openly discussed the physics of the young men. Even with their little bit of knowledge of French did they understand. Both women had a fur coat, probably imitation. One had a blood red blouse and the other a blouse with tiger print. After two beers the ladies asked for champagne, instead they gave them a glass of red wine.

The women were having a lot of fun and the youngsters laughed along although not aware what the fun was about. The tiger blouse told them she was going to make one of them very pretty. The red blouse said that this was an excellent idea and while one held his head the other painted his lips red and gave him blue eye shadow. She showed him the result with the mirror on her powder box. It was very pretty indeed!

In the meantime the other young man had put his glass under his coat. But this barman was very attentive and yelled that he had to put the glass back on the bar immediately. And they should leave at once! This leaving lasted to long according to him and suddenly a sort of bulldog appeared which he directed at the boys. They just shouted at the dog that he was very good and sweet. But the dog didn’t understand this and took the shoe of one of them on his mouth and got his teeth through it.
This made very clear that they had to get out quick.

Outside they had a good laugh and decided this would do it for the night. To collect the glasses was the next goal. They wandered around, every street resembled the other and walking into a few porches by gamble didn’t help. The glasses seemed gone forever.
So no beer glasses this time and they should go back to the hotel while they still were able to talk comprehensively. So they walked to a taxi stand. They were lucky, there was one.

Ordering where they had to go proved to be a problem. Both had forgotten the name of the hotel.
So there was a lot of laughter in the back of the car.
The taxi driver got them to tell where the neighbourhood of the hotel was. Very experienced he talked a bit in his walkie talkie and swiftly drove them to the hotel.

When they went upstairs they encountered the group who were going in the direction of the breakfast table. They were looked at with a frown, but just wished them a good morning and went straight to their room.
They took off their coats and the one with the make-up on took a glass from under his sweater.
Laughing out loud they fell asleep fully dressed on their beds.

The Stairs

How many times and in how many different ways can you build a house from my pile of wooden blocks? I must have done them all. There’s nothing else to play with on the floor. And there is nobody else over here. I can hear the faint sounds of children playing outdoors. I’m still not allowed to go outside, otherwise I might have gone along with my big sister.

For a while I listen to the sounds from the children. Then I realise I hear Mama singing upstairs. She must be busy with the beds in the attic and is in a good mood. I hear her singing the melodies and her Tee-a-la-dee-dee instead of the words of the songs. I recognise the melodies from the music player Papa sometimes uses to let us hear songs.

How I would love to be with Mama, it’s so nice to hear she is in a good mood. But it’s a long way up. I crawl to the stairs and look up them. They seem to go on endlessly. I never tried going up before, they won’t let me. But now there’s nobody who can stop me and I want to go to Mama and see her busy and sing.

The first step is not even that hard, my arms can do it. I just drag myself up. And then put my knees on the step. Wow, I can really do this! So it should be possible to get there all the way. Mama will be proud of me if I can do this. The next step is taken quite easily too. After a few steps I really have to rest a bit. I look down and it really looks scary; I must not fall down! I feel a bit scared now, but I’m not able to go back down. I have to go to Mama, she will be proud and she will get me down again. And she will tell Papa about the great thing I did.

So I go on and I get a few steps further up before I have to rest again. I decide not to look back any more, it only scares me. And I will make it to the top; I have to!
When I rest again I can see it’s only a few steps before I get to the top. I can hear Mama much more clearly over here and I just listen a bit to her songs.

I start my struggle again, but I’m stopped before I can even can get my knee on the next step. A white cascade of sheets wraps my body up. I can’t hold myself and down I fall. I scream but the sheets muffle my sound. Falling down is very scary: I fall down for such a long time! But it doesn’t hurt very much: I’m totally cocooned in the sheets and it does stop.

I can move everything only a bit until Mama gets me out of the pile. She’s not proud at all! She tells me I’m a stupid boy and she puts me in my private prison, called a playpen. From behind my wooden bars I see her getting the sheets from the floor and disappearing in the kitchen with them. She doesn’t sing any more, she really is angry with me.

I feel very tired now and just lie down in the playpen.
When Papa comes home maybe Mama will tell him about my adventure.
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A Scary Lesson

Big Sister is going to tell me everything that swimming lessons are about. I have missed the first lesson because I was ill and heard some disturbing stories of my class mates. Big Sister tells about crossing the pool under water and she has seemed to have played hide and seek under water. It’s not making me any feel better. Crossing the pool under water… Never knew she had gills. I don’t have any idea what this pool should look like. We never went to a pool before, too expensive for my parents in my first seven years.

We go from school to the pool by bus. I sit next to the same person I sit with in the classroom.
It’s not very far to the pool. The building doesn’t give me associations with water at all. But inside every wall is covered with tiles, it reminds me of the butcher’s. We change into trunks on long benches and hang our stuff in the same hall. Then we go to the pool hall where the swim instructor already waits for us. He’s dressed completely in white clothes, with white gym shoes. Even his hair is white and crew cut. His red face is the only dissonant. He bellows some words and my class mates already know what to do. They stand in line, from small to tall. I understand I have to stand on the end of the line, being the smallest.

Things went to slow according to the man in white and he shouts some more things to us. I’m becoming cold, goosebumps all over my body and I need to go to the toilet. I put my finger in the air and ask permission. He bellows to me that I have to be very quick, otherwise he will get me. They all will wait for me. Even with all the echoing in this hall I do understand this. So I run to the toilet and try to get rid of what’s bothering me. But like always: when I want to do it quick, it won’t come. I try to relax and then it comes. My stomach aches, I shake all over and I have diarrhoea.

Before I’m done there’s banging on the door. It’s the instructor demanding me to come out immediately. I moan that I’m not ready yet and reach for the toilet paper. I don’t understand how but the man in white has opened the door and holds my arm in a fierce grip. He flushes and while I pull up my trunks he drags me back to my class mates. He seems not to notice that I’m very smelly and gets me in line again.
The boy next to me pinches his nose. The rest of the boys start to laugh. The man’s face turns even more red and he starts shouting at him from very close range. I see his spit hitting the boy and he starts to cry. The instructor seems happy with this and steps back again.

He starts to instruct us. I don’t understand any of his words, only thing I can make of it is “How, how, how”. One thing is clear, my group is called “the Floaters”.

We have to stand in line in the water that is knee deep. We are ordered to lay down flat faced and float. I obey with the rest of the group, keep my breath and get up when I need some air. I haven’t moved an inch while the rest is some yards away from me. The man in white shouts at me that I have to get back in the water. I see my own shit in the water and feel disgusted with it. But I’m afraid for this red faced man and obey again.

When I stand up again, I have moved maybe two inches. My classmates are halfway the pool. The man has a big pole with a hook in his hand. I go in again. When I need to get up, I can’t. I feel the hook in the back of my neck. He’s going to drown me! I really panic now. I struggle from under the hook and get up anyway. When I look at him with my eyes full of tears he looks at me in disbelief.

He goes over to the rest after ordering me to go on. The rest of the lesson I lay down in the water and get up in a minute after that.

When we go back in the bus nobody wants to sit next to me.


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