She became a habit that was hard to shake. A thought that became clearer and clearer until he needed to have his fix every day. More and more. There was nothing he could do. He became addicted to her mind. He was addicted to the little oddities and eccentricities. It had to be her. Every day he needed a little piece of her. She was a habit that was hard to shake.
A Life in Frames is my most accessible and versatile publication to date.
In this book, you can find many short stories as well as flash fiction and one or two poems. The stories are about life and death, love and joy, darkness and sadness. They are moments in the life of the characters who often stay nameless. For me, it showcases my writing abilities best because this collection is not prose and not lyric… It is an eclectic mix of both.
About the cover: as always with my books, I took the picture myself. It is a street lamp shot in the dark. Enhanced by a couple of filters.
About the title: A Life in Frames sounds a bit off or weird at first glance, but it makes sense. We like to take pictures of moments in our lives and put them in an album or hang them on our walls. These are moments like that, just in written form.
As most often, every piece of writing in A Life in Frames is fiction. But there are always little hints and pieces of me in every word I write.
If you are interested in a paperback copy of the book you should know this: I ship worldwide. The price is set at $18 (15€, £13) shipping and handling is included – no hidden or additional costs.
How can you go about purchasing a copy of this absolutely brilliant anthology? Well, there are a couple of ways:
- the Amazon is the easiest put least personal
- Use this very blog. There is a purchase button if you scroll all the way down on mobile or desktop version of WordPress. You will receive a signed copy with a handwritten note
- Send the money via Pay Pal to firstname.lastname@example.org, mention which book you want and verify that your name and address are correct.
Easy as cake, right?
What are you waiting for?
Remember! You matter; you are loved.
He intended to leave with grace, but he is unable to forget her face
The feel of her skin against his fingers, it is a memory that still lingers
He walks down the empty street; head bowed down in defeat
She is an explosion in his emotions, tears in neverending oceans
He wants to hold her one more time and see her light shine
And there she is, under a streetlight, illuminated by the night
He remembers the smell of her hair, and strolls over there
Their eyes meet, and he wants to run. What if she is done?
But she is not; she holds out her hand as if there had never been an end
That slight touch makes everything right, and they walk off into the midnight.
Together, at last, he is glad that life without her is in the past.
That dream. Again. She had not had that dream in a long while, and it never failed to leave her unsettled, bothering on anxious. She was breathing heavily, fighting back the tears that were moist on he cheeks. Her eyes were still closed, trying to grab the remnants of the nightmare she had endured and turning them into something else. Something good. But to no avail. The harder she tried, the more her conscious mind took over, until finally, she was awake. Her eyes fluttered open, and she stared into the dark. The sweat was cooling on her skin. She shivered; as much from the vivid memories as from the cold.
She was at work, laughing with her colleagues, when her phone rang. She saw the number and smiled. Usually, she did not pick up when he called, and she was on a shift, but she was in such a good mood, she wanted to hear his voice and tell him that she would get in touch later. He would certainly understand; they hadn’t talked in two weeks, a couple of hours surely were bearable. But it was not his voice that greeted her; it was another man.
“is this Shelly speaking?” The man asked. His voice was slightly familiar, but she couldn’t place it. “Yes,” she replied “who’s this?” She was confused why a stranger was calling from her boyfr…- she didn’t even know how to label him, they weren’t a couple after all.
“it’s Vic, Dave’s brother.” Ah! That was why the voice sounded familiar. Curious, she left the small office to have a moment of quiet and to understand the man on the other line properly. “I’m afraid I have bad news,” he continued. “Dave passed away. He… He killed himself last night.” His voice broke, and her heart was racing too fast. It felt as if someone had put cotton in her head and it blocked a myriad of oncoming questions that washed over her like a tsunami. “What? How? Why? That cannot be.” She refused to believe the words he said. “He left letters for you, an entire box full. He also left a will in which you are mentioned, but we need to have it checked with our lawyers.” Vic sounded so pulled together as he continued to talk without listening to her. It was almost as if he was going through the motions of informing people about his brother’s passing on auto-pilot. “Could you send your address as a text message? I will make sure that you receive everything Dave wanted you to have.”
Shelly felt the colour draining from her face, and the force holding her upright was fading too. “Yeah, no. Will do. I am sorry for your loss”, she said and quickly disconnected the call. A wail left her mouth as she fell to the ground. Uncontrollable sobs shook her entire body, and she heard noises she couldn’t be sure came from her. But they had to; no one was around. She got up from the floor; she was trembling and gasping for air. It was too hot, and too cold. It was too much of everything. She needed to get outside. And she did. Her crying didn’t stop. How could he be gone? How could Dave be gone?
But there were no answers to that question because every time that dream tormented her, this was the moment she woke up. Every time. In reality, she had not talked to Dave in months, and she was pretty sure that no letters or other belongings were waiting for her, and she was most certainly not mentioned in his will either. Shelly pushed the bunched up sheets off her body and decided to distract herself by starting her day. But the bitter aftertaste of that all too familiar dream tinted her mood. She was not ready to let Dave go. And she couldn’t wash the suspicion that something terrible was about to happen to him off in the shower either.
668 words, 20 minutes
You felt it, too, the moment when I needed you. But you were far away. And it was already too late. The hands of time were moving on, not waiting for us to come along. Too late. The sun awoke and went back to sleep; the moon played hide and seek. And we were too late. Too late to understand, too late to grab each other’s hand. You faded like a shooting star, like the last chord played on the guitar. And it was too late. Too late to bring you back to me, but I know, you see? I felt it, too, the moment when you missed me out of the blue.
Every Wednesday, Aaron shares a prompt over on his blog. This week’s prompt was late. Make sure to take a look at his blog; he shares interesting stuff. I haven’t written for the Sunday Scribblings in a while, and the above was very impulsive and, indeed, late. I hope you still enjoy it. And now, visit Aaron in the confusing middle.
Years and months of the same are behind us. And for a moment, we were closer than ever before. We were both lonely during this extraordinary worldwide crisis, and the pandemic made us spend many hours on the phone together. Something grew. A bond that turned out to be more profound and more genuine than it has ever been before. But, we are fragile minds with different lives, different needs, and different desires. I always knew that the inevitable would come. I was waiting for it almost daily. I was unsure of you, and maybe I was even more unsure of myself and my feelings towards you. And then, one day, you told me we need to talk after I am done with my shift. It was a late shift, and the message came early on. I am not proud to admit that I had to leave the office and the group to gather myself. I had an anxiety attack that day brought on by the fear of losing you. I was sure you would tell me that you didn’t want or couldn’t be in touch with me anymore. Just the way you had done before. Instead, to my surprise, you asked for my support. For friendship and advice. Whereas a year before you told me that I don’t matter and that you never cared, you now asked for me to take small steps in the right direction with you. I felt needed and seen. You saw me. And I saw you. Everything worked well for us. We talked. We laughed. We cried. You were healing, and so was I. Slowly, steadily. It was a good time. But I still had the nagging feeling in the back of my head that this was not going to last. And I was right. One day in August, you told me to call you as soon as I was ready and done with work. Again I was working the late shift. Again, I was worried. But I pushed the thoughts away. I called you as soon as I sat in my car. It was dark outside. A streetlight illuminated my car. I called twice and woke you up. Your voice was slurred. I did not understand a lot of what you were trying to say, but I understood that we were over and done. I did not have a say in this, but you told me we would talk the next day.
The next day, you called, and we talked about it all. About what had happened. Then we texted about it some more. I apologised for all the things I did to you. I told you that I want what’s best for you, and if that’s for you to be away from me, I would not fight your wishes, no matter how much it hurts. But I needed you to know that I wanted you in my life. You have your place in my life and in my heart. Always. You became defiant and nasty. You always do when you don’t know how to react to my bursts of emotions. Once again, you told me that my stuff is none of your business and that you really don’t care. I got the message. You needed no-contact. And I ended the conversation there. I did not want to pick a fight and leave with a bad taste in your mouth. I gave you the space you asked for. I did not block your number as you requested. I cannot do that – it hurts me more than it hurts you. But I did not get in touch the way I did for months and weeks before, checking in on you when I felt that something was off. (I was always right, but who cares, and it does not matter.)
Yesterday, you sent an email. I was asleep. I read your usual words in that email. And I debated this morning if I should react or not. I took my time. And when I did, you called. Not once but ten times. I pushed you away, telling you that I was busy and would get in touch later. Later. I needed a moment to decide what to do. Because you were not wrong when you accused me of holding on to you out of selfish reasons and not because of you. Indeed, later, I had a clearer mind. I sent a message back saying that we didn’t do us any good with our behaviour. Always the same patterns. You have your needs that only I can fulfill, and I have my needs that can only be met by you. But, what are we doing, dear Stranger?! We are hurting ourselves this way. And I really thought there would be no reply; I did not expect anything but rejection and disappointment. Instead, you surprised me with a thank you, and a couple of other messages were sent back and forth. You never cease to amaze me. In good and bad ways equally. We are burning bright without each other, turning into dust. Together, we at least have us.
I will never let you go. I will never betray your trust. I promised to be there. To catch you when you fall. It sounds like a threat and not like friendship or love.
But is this the right thing to do? I am not sure anymore. I just know that the months we were so comfortable together, so close, were awesome, and I miss you. Miss us and who we became.
Soon, we will have our 6th anniversary. That’s a long time. A lot has happened. A lot has changed. More for you than for me, I admit. But without you, I would not be here. I owe you.
It’s hard to give up our weaknesses when there is grace and care. But we must.
What are we doing? What are we going to do?
I don’t know,
And when she woke up from the deep slumber she had vanished to, her soul was shaking, and her body was trembling. Something was different. She was different. One look, one touch had unraveled her stoic self, and now she was a stranger. She did not recognize her reflection in the mirror. She did not understand her thoughts. Her voice was new to her ears. An unusual desire to be alive and present struck her like lightning in the sand. And her iridescent self shone brighter for everyone to see. One touch, one kiss, had turned the key and opened her cage. She was not hidden anymore. The veil that had protected her from curious eyes had been lifted. She took a deep breath and smiled. It had taken a while, but today she was grateful for yesterday’s memories.
He sat naked in a rocking chair in an almost dark room. The door was closed. Three windows were open. The wind blew crisp air into the room and made the thin white curtains flow into the empty space. Outside, the moon played hide and seek with the clouds in the sky. Their play made shadows dance on the bare walls.
The chair creaked on the hardwood floors with every forward motion. Some panels were loose from years of use. It was as if they had a memory of every footstep that had ever touched them. The man kept moving. The same movements, over and over again. The repetition was somewhat meditative. Soothing. And he needed that for himself. Calmness. Stillness. He wanted to close his eyes and escape the earth and all its noise for a while, but he couldn’t. He was scared. Scared that the demons lurking in the shadows were finally there to steal his soul. No, sleep or rest of any kind was not an option. No matter how tired he was or how much his eyes hurt from squinting in the dark, he needed to keep them open and stay alert. Awake. Everwake.
The man’s mind was at once empty and overflowing. His body was in flames from the heat surrounding his heart, and it was freezing cold the next from the gushes of air, raising goosebumps on his exposed skin. Everything was the opposite of how it was supposed to be. But he kept rocking back and forth on his wooden rocking chair.
In the dark, the red cushions weren’t visible. But he knew that they were there, supporting his weight. There was a tear on the back and a couple of stains under his bottom; he knew every blemish by heart. Like the scars or tattoos on his skin, every stain and every tear, every hole had a story. And he remembered them all. Memories. Remembering meant either torment or bliss. Tonight every flash of the past equalled agony.
The moon kept travelling across the sky, closely followed by a thin layer of clouds. An owl was awake in the tree under his window; it called for someone in the dark night.
He needed a drink, and he craved a cigarette, but he couldn’t leave his chair. He was trapped in his own darkness, not only the darkness of the room but the darkness of his mind too.
The partying shadows on the walls and on the ceiling kept mocking him and his life in captivity. If he were strong enough, he would have tried to fight every single demon. But he was weak and afraid of the dark. He was lonely. Alone.
Another flash of the past made him remember the woman he had loved. He had only loved once. Genuine and honest and raw. He had been able to feel love, to give, and to receive it too. Those times were long gone. There was nothing loveable about him anymore, and if someone tried to be affectionate toward him, he had the unique gift to ruin it every time. No one was allowed to see past the image he had decided to show of himself. No one was allowed to see his vulnerabilities and his weaknesses. No, showing those only ever resulted in pain.
As the middle-aged man kept rocking back and forth on his chair, the voices in his head grew louder and more insistent with each creak of the wooden frame. From soothing to aggravating in a matter of moments. He hit the side of his head with his flat hand. Left hand. Left temple. “Stupid,” he muttered. The ghosts had not left, but no one answered him. Behind him, the curtains made a swishing sound. He stopped moving. He was convinced they were here to take him away, to make him vanish into thin air. He held his breath. He reasoned that maybe they couldn’t see him if he stayed still.
The owl was calling him from the shelter of her tree. And from the walls, shadows tried to catch him. He was paralysed with fear. There was no escape. The sheer terror of all his sins was staring into his pale red-rimmed eyes and tried to pull him under. If he had been able to do it, he would have closed his eyes. But he couldn’t. His body did not belong to him anymore; it did not obey his silent pleading orders anymore. The man tried to scream for help, for someone to save him and wake him up from this nightmare, but no sound got out of his mouth. There was no sound but the wind and the owl. The man was lost in this weird dream, knowing full well that he was not asleep. He was trapped in a cage of fear.
He gasped. For a moment, everything became clear. For a moment, he understood that it was all in his head and that his mind was playing tricks on him. Nothing was real.
His face turned into a painful grimace, and then he chuckled. His shoulders moved along with the sound. And he started laughing until he was scratching at the door of insanity. He was rocking in his chair again. Back and forth. Over and over again.
The moon was slowly fading, making room for the sun. The shadows on the walls began to become invisible, and the owl stopped calling for her lower. The wind had let up, too, leaving the curtains to rest after an eventful night.
He tried to exhale deeply, but because he was still laughing, he only made a wheezing sound. The ghost of the night was still lingering in the sweat covering his naked body. The man was drenched in fear. But he kept moving. Back and forth. Back and forth. In his mind, a film was replaying the worst moments of his life. He was convinced that he deserved the punishment the darkness brought upon him every night anew. There was nothing left fighting for. No redemption in sight.
The man finally closed his eyes. A grin was spread on his face. Maybe the next time, he would start to fight the madness residing in his head. Or maybe… not.
(1044 words, written last night/early this morning)
I am weak, but I can’t let you go with a sad song in your eyes. I am selfish, but I refuse to let you slip out of my life. I am ready to beg you to love me, but that is not the issue. You love me enough. I cannot say goodbye to you because I cannot breathe when you are not in my life. And the tears that leave dark dots on my clothes, they mock me. Wasn’t it me who said it is okay either way? Please stay! Don’t go away! But you have to, and I miss you forever and a day. Kiss me just one more time so that I remember how to feel alive.
Leaves dancing in the rain
Sun licking the morning dew;
Reflections in the window pane
Grey skies turning blue,
Behind a concealing mask
Feelings are an uncomfortable mess,
To understand is an unbearable task
And it’s easier to leave than to stay, I guess.
Toxic thoughts and actions;
Driving so-called friends away
Understanding their reactions
But missing them forever and a day.
More light in the dark
More tears in an ocean
Another life’s mark
Overcome by emotion.
A head full of spinning thoughts
Cowering in the corner of my mind
To unfurl their knots.
Once again, I am left behind.
A soap bubble of for never
Floating up to the clouds
A memory to stay forever
Hidden from the crowds.
I am the shadow in my light
I am the hope in my despair
But after my lastest sleepless night I can say that
I am still there.