Getting Rid of Things


(Credit: reslife.winonastateu)

I can’t get the red stains out of the floor.

They must be from her red wine, but people will likely think someone was murdered here, and how am I going to sell the flat then?

Then there is the carpet. That old mop of black and grey stripes will send almost anyone running and the rest will be out the door, when they see the cat hair sofa.

No, it is not actually made of cat’s hair; there is cloth under there somewhere. I think.

I should never have told the estate agent that I would sell the place furnished, but I just want to get rid of it all at once.

The flat,

The furniture,

The cats,

The oven, which smells burnt from my first cookies,

The memory of the long dark evenings huddled around the radiator,

And her rasping voice telling me of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland or her cats’ adventures in the forest,

And the Earl Grey, too sweet from all the sugar cubes, the oversized cup warming my cold hands.

It is too much,

And it has turned bitter in spite of the sugar,

And I just want to pour it all out in the sink.

The Hat Lady



She smelt of oranges and cloves all year round. She had a closet filled with hats and never wore the same one for more than three hours. For long trips out of the house she brought a large hat bag and sometimes I was allowed to pick some from the closet for her.

We went to the zoo and flapped our arms at the penguins and with sticky liquorice in our hands we walked through the forest without using the paths, but never losing our way. In the forest, she told me about bog monsters and trolls and the kind of fairies that pull you off to another world to be a pet.

‘Don’t ever believe that Tinkerbell is a real fairy,’ she told me as the liquorice cloyed my tongue.

After a long time without walks, I went to church with my parents and shortly after they sold all her hats except a brown bowler which I took. When I ran off to hide it, I got lost in the woods and when I sat down and held the bowler over my nose, it only smelt of dust.


(credit: Wikipedia)

(credit: Wikipedia)

I like thinking back on your cereal ritual in the mornings. The crunching as you stuffed your face with Kellog’s. They way you held your spoon was so clumsy that it made you look younger and I felt so old.

Now I’m five years older, but my life has just begun.

Childhood Memory

Babin zub na Staroj planini

Forest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I run over the sticks and stones that my brother says will break his bones, but I have not seen any words anywhere. Not yet.

My mother said that when it came to my father she had difficulty finding words, but that they always came to her when she walked the dog, and I know where she walks the dog. The forest. So that is where I am. In the forest searching for words. I look left and right, but do not see any. Neither do I see the root that has grown across the path. So it catches my foot and I fall, my nose smashes into a stone and my knees are scraped. Blood spills from my nose as I pick myself up and begin to cry.

Then I remember that I am alone and I stop crying. Not because I stop being scared, but because I know no one will comfort me. So I save my crying for when I come home, where my mother talks and talks and talks to me about how I look, about how everything will be all right, about where I have been, and I think that maybe some words came home with me from the forest without me noticing.

11 Memory 2 of 2

I do not know how far I went; I lost sense of time. But at last I reached an archway lit by torches, old-fashioned ones with flames licking the wall behind them. Through the archway I could see a large room also lit with uncovered flames. I crept inside, remembering that I was probably an unbidden guest.

The room was empty, but there was an archway in the furthest wall and through that I glimpsed movement. I tensed. The room behind the next archway was lit as well. I crept along one wall. When I came to the archway I peered through ready to pull myself back at any moment. What I saw in there left me dumbfounded.

In the middle of the room was an altar and outstretched on top of it was the woman in the rabbit costume. Someone had torn off her dress. The only things she wore were shoes, a thong and her rabbit ears. Around her in a large circle stood about twenty people all in different animal costumes.

A man was saying something in a language I did not understand. He wore a white unicorn mask with a goat’s beard. The horn on his forehead looked wickedly sharp and the point glinted when he moved his head. His dark red robe made me think of dried blood.

The feeling hit me like a sledgehammer and my throat went dry as a desert. Whatever they were doing, it was wrong and whatever happened, I did not want the man with the unicorn mask to see me. I wanted to run or hide, but all my legs did was tremble and my eyes were locked on the altar.

The man continued his chants and the other people joined in. The sound rose to a crescendo. Beads of sweat ran down my brow. It felt stuffy under my mask. I removed it from my face. The man took out a curved dagger from his robe. The chant ceased. I gasped for breath. It was like trying to breathe under water.

The man lowered his head and the horn pointed straight at the woman on the altar. There was the sound of a spring being released and the horn flew from his head and buried itself right under the woman’s jaw. A gurgling broke the silence. The blood spurted and ran down the altar. The woman twitched for an eternity before she lay still.

I vomited and all heads were turned to me. I fell to my knees, as a man in a full-body bear costume came towards me. I tried to speak. When he picked me up, I tried to fend him off, but all strength had gone from me. Then he squeezed me.

I know it is hard to believe, but you must have seen the horn in her. And there must be signs that all those people were here. What do you mean there is no horn? I saw it.

I don’t know, I did not see them mutilate her.

No, I have never seen that knife in my life before. The one the man had was curved, remember?

I have no idea how my fingerprints came to be there.

I am telling you, they were here and that man killed her. Why won’t you believe me? I saw it!

I swear, I saw it!

11 Memory 1 of 2

Something large and hairy. No, that’s not right. It was fuzzy. A large teddy bear, yes, that was it, I remember now. A teddy bear that hugged me tighter and tighter and then everything went black. It sounds crazy, I know, but I’m sure it happened. It must have, how could I have ended up here otherwise?

Before that, I was at the carnival. I had this white mask on with a long long nose which was red at the end. Like the mask was drunk or had a cold.

No, I was not drunk. I think. I had not drunk very much. Of course, I was in a good mood, everybody was. There was music and dancing. I had forgotten my earplugs so it was much too loud. When I drifted too close to a music wagon, I felt like my eardrums would explode. So I ran. Away from the noise. Into a deserted alley.

While I rested my hand against the wall, getting my breath back, I noticed a woman in a rabbit costume. She went right past me and at the end of the alley she opened a door and disappeared through it. She left it ajar.

I glanced down the way she had come. No one was following her. My legs went to the door of their own accord and I looked inside. There were steps. Leading down. A naked bulb lit them where they turned.

I gave the alley one last furtive glance before I stepped inside, leaving the door like she had. I took a few steps down and looked over the banister. She was gone. She must have gone down the stairs pretty quickly to be gone already. There was a small click behind me. I turned. The door had closed.

I rushed back up. No matter how hard I pushed or tugged, the door would not open. I dared not bang at the door, because I might be accused of breaking an entrance. The light blinked and the stairs were plunged into darkness. For what felt like an eternity I stood there in the dark with my back to the door.

In the end I made up my mind. I could not just stay there. I groped for the banisters and made my way down, step by careful step. At the first turn I felt the walls, but there were no doors and not even any light switches.

It became colder as I descended. Or maybe, I just imagined it. It was strange to think that only moments ago I was outside in bright sunshine. I am not sure how far I went down. I began counting the turns. After a while I gave it up.

It became very damp and I heard a dripping from somewhere beneath me. It became steadily louder. I took a step down and stumbled. My foot was stopped by cold stone and the banister ended. The dripping was now in front of me.

I squinted into the darkness and there far ahead was a dim light. I felt the floor in front of me with my foot. It seemed to be level. Reaching out to one side I found the wall, cold and slimy. I retracted my hand. The slime was still sticking to my fingers, gooey but odourless. I wrinkled my nose and dried it off in my trousers, hoping it would not leave a stain.

Then I went towards the light.

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