It’s raining again. I haven’t been out for weeks, but it seems every time it’s my turn in Cell 421, it’s raining. Chuck wanted to trade. He said he’d give me his lunch for three days if he could stay in Cell 421, the only one with a window. Although I do want to eat more, I simply couldn’t take away his food. Not for this. Not for staring out of a window. It’s always the same thing; rain. It’s rain and with these long, almost endless lines of people.
I catch the sunrise over the bridge every morning before I sit down by the subway. It’s not because I particularly enjoy sunrises or because I somehow find comfort in them. It’s just on my way. That’s it. I live on the other side of the bridge and since most workers get up early, I also have to get up early. I try to hurry over. For some reason it’s easier to imagine us without a home. It’s within the very term homeless. It does happen that someone recognizes me and when they do, they’ll never again share a few coins. The magic is gone. I’m no longer just that homeless man who sits there waiting for them when they go to work, and still waits for them when they go home.
Tobias: Welcome fellow editors to the Literally Stories Autumn summit.
Diane: Where is my drink?
Tobias: Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t bring any alcohol.
Diane: Oh deary… I thought for sure there would be a few bottles of wine. And some for you guys as well.
I’m Saga and I live in a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. I have a disease. It’s not fatal, but I am going blind. My doctor told me that I was slowly going blind. My mother said that my eyes were only losing their clarity. It’s true. Before it gets dark it will first become blurry. It already has.
I rewrote that intro several times and finally ended up with that one. I don’t want my disease to define me, but it is the only reason I’m slightly interesting. I was seventeen years old and I went to a public school in a county that had almost no public schools. I wore large glasses – still do – which I had to change batteries on every week. A function inside the lenses automatically adjusted to the daylight. When I started my first year of high school we were supposed to stand up in class and tell the others a little bit about ourselves. I told them I enjoyed reading, knitting and playing the piano. My teacher laughed and asked why I used past tense. She was right though. I could still enjoy most of those things, the piano made a sound and I could feel the fabric when I knitted, but I couldn’t read as well. I can still read to this day, but it takes longer, much longer. I lose patience.
Every fifteen meters the light from a lamppost shines. The rivers running through the town reflect their lights. The water often flows smoothly. An occasional wave might pass by, but I barely notice it. If it wasn’t for the rainfall I wouldn’t believe I live in a coastal city. Five or six small boats are anchored by a one-way street on my side. No anchoring on the other side. The river is narrow enough to see across which causes most people to shut their drapes. Shadows move to and fro. There’s a couple on the second floor who are particularly animated. They dance, I think, or perform sketches. I sit by the window at my computer and try different songs to match their rhythm. I’ve tried to listen by opening the window, but I can’t hear a thing other than the city noises. Not that I live in a busy part of town, just a forgotten side-street between two busy river crossings. There is always a car somewhere, a loud conversation around the corner, a bottle being broken or something that breaks the attention. The cities are growing even more crowded. Oddly enough I read that the cities are not growing louder. Hundreds of years ago the city was smaller but louder. The blacksmith would bang his hammer on the anvil. The hooves of a horse echoed in the streets. There were no phones or microphones. You shouted to be heard. Maybe that part hasn’t change. Maybe we still shout. To be heard is to be seen and we all want to be seen. I wonder how Victoria sees it. She must know about me and Patrick.
There is – I wouldn’t call it a hole, rather a hollow – in the ground outside my house. When it rains it fills up to form a puddle and when the sun shines it evaporates, back to a hollow. The last few summers the puddle hasn’t dried away. Perhaps the sun shone less or perhaps the branches of the tree just above it grew a little thicker, but the puddle remained throughout the season. I can see the puddle from my bedroom window. The puddle, the tree and the green area around it, the little playground outside a kindergarten and a convenience store.
I walk down the three steps, step out onto the sidewalk outside her house and lean my head back to the sky. Raindrops land on my face, neither warm nor cold. No breezes, but I hear the wind in the leaves on the trees along the avenue. Few people are up, light from maybe one or two windows. The street lamps light my way down the avenue. The asphalt is wet, which gives the city a fresh smell of concrete and cars. I like the smell of both; cars and concrete. It must have rained harder an hour ago. Streams run along the sidewalk picking up dirt in a slow pace and pouring it down the sewer.
Arnold Dupree, the right-hand man and the representative of President Smith, shook hands with Oscar Bojanovic, the head of the voting facility. Oscar gave him a keycard and a badge and led the way.
“If you direct your attention to the screen, we can observe which question the voter is currently answering.”
You witness a fight between two equally strong men. Do you;
- Call the Police
- Run away
- Wait until one of them is victorious, and then attack from behind.
- Jump in and throw punches in every direction
- Tell them to stop fighting from a safe distance
December sweeps her dead hand around my throat. My capuche swooshes open and I come to life in the morning hour rush. A beggar scratches the furrows between the cobblestones outside the metro station. When I get close to him, the automatic doors open and the warm breath of the subway hits me. He looks up at me, then back down again to the cobblestones.
I walk out on to the escalator, a boy runs past me, then a girl, then another boy. The latter boy shoves the girl when he rushes by her, down the escalator. She yells, but keeps going. Yesterday the fungus to the right was green, but today it’s covered in white foam.
The subway train comes in and I get on. It’s full, so I stand. I can always tell which state the country is in by looking at the adverts. Education, insurances, job seminars and cheap groceries. I’m reminded of what the prime minister said; the lowest unemployment rate in Europe by 2020.
Promises aren’t worth much to the poor. That’s why the adverts look the way they do, and why the beggar scratches the furrows of the cobblestone.
Literally Stories have had picks by a bunch of lovely editors, let’s also have a bunch of picks from an unloved editor. Before I go on I just want to clarify, I’m not picking the ones already picked, which are all great.
Unfortunately to choose one is to disregard another. My lovely better half comes from Belgium where they have a saying: To choose is to lose. It’s why their Food Menus are endlessly long and why the food arrives with an uplifting pep talk; Better luck next time, Brussels sprout.
I’m rambling on, so let me take the advice from the boy with the snotty nose which is: Start with the picking!