All Stories, General Fiction, Story of the Week

Elsa by Tobias Haglund


There’s a temperature – not too warm, not too cold, just right – where I am caught for hours. Thousands of tiny water drops form like islands in an ocean upon the inner wall of the shower stall. Streams run down, connecting the islands and growing bigger to eventually drop to the puddle at my feet. As the water hits my forehead, eyelids and cheeks a comfort settles, knowing no matter how long I stand here, the water won’t stop. Sooner or later all of the thousand islands will be connected and new ones will form. The streams reaching my feet will not stop streaming and the flow will keep wrinkling my hands. I lean left and the shower hits my shoulder creating a waterfall.

Two streams run along each other on the wall, picking up pace from every droplet, yet, they never connect. Once again two streams run alongside. There must be a path they’re following destining them to never connect. Around my side at the level of my waist they’re at their closest. It almost gives me a sense of hope. Maybe if I turn up the water pressure the drops will increase. But nothing happens. Maybe if I turn up the heat to unbearably hot, the steam will connect them. But no and that temperature is lost.

Tiptoeing, only leaving small traces of water on the two bathroom rugs, on my way to the mirror. I wipe away a layer of steam. The face is gaunt. Not the young girl I once was, but I guess not yet the woman I will become. Maybe a smile, yes; still youngish. It’s odd. Every time I stand too long in front of the mirror I feel the need to brush my teeth.

One quick knock on the door.

Elsa, come on!”

“Just brushing my teeth.”

The irises expand. Is it a sign of lying? The pajamas his mother gave me make me look like a toddler. They’re cute. Yes, they are cute. I shouldn’t. She means well. Let’s just put them on and not think about it too much.

He sits on the sofa looking at the TV.

“Elsa, what took you so long?”

He shuts off the TV and faces me, reaches out his hand and I grab it. He pulls me down next to him.

“Just thinking about what you said.”

He stares for a little while and plays with the fabric of the pajamas. “And?”

“Yes.” I sigh and nod. Because it’s not easy and he should know it. “…I’ll follow.”

“Great! You’ll have to learn English of course, but the best way to learn English is to live there. I’m going to call my boss and my mother and tell them we’re moving!”

“I guess I should call mine too.”

“Yea of course, and hey, listen. I know it’s not easy. But you can do your things there, you know. And I will make a lot more money so you don’t need to feel any pressure to provide. Yea, Hi mom! Great news…”

Tobias Haglund

17 thoughts on “Elsa by Tobias Haglund”

  1. Elsa reminded me of Smilla in Peter Høeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow or how she might have sounded as a young woman. Blessed with insight yet resigned to her fates – Elsa is one of my favourite pieces of writing on Literally Stories to date not least for the fact it contains original observation – “It’s odd. Every time I stand too long in front of the mirror I feel the need to brush my teeth.” – your good friend, Adam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That’s very kind of you, Adam. I’m glad I was able to struck a chord with you. This is also one of my personal favourites.


    1. Thank you Diane. A bit different from what I usually bring to the slush pile that is my stories. I am very glad you enjoyed it!


  2. Hi Tobias, I enjoyed reading this as it left many after thoughts the whole sense of uncertainty, with Elsa lingering in the shower where she feels warm and safe, then having to face up to other people making decisions in her life. The final great news is not really Elsa’s decision in the end. It seems as if there is so much more to come in the story.
    A good read,
    James McEwan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, June. That’s kind of you. She was born, as you can imagine, during a shower. Thanks for your kind words.


  3. Mr Tobias, for such a simple story you have crafted this into observations on thoughts, decisions and belief in outcome. You have shown us no matter how much we consider, it is a snap of realisation that makes us decide.
    A very thoughtful piece of work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A fine piece of writing. You pulled off a great trick there Tobias: who would have considered that the action of hot water in a shower could hold our attention! It was the perfect background to the woman’s reflections.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Tobias,
    It’s great to see this back up.
    Hopefully one of these days you will lift your pen once again.
    All the very best my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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