Category Archives: 642 Things to write about

11. The parking lot

Luna tapped the steering wheel impatiently while her eyes flew from left to right, trying to spot a free space between all the parked cars. It was a Friday afternoon, and I wasn’t surprised that it the parking lot was packed. I felt a little guilty that I had talked her into driving us here in the first place, only because I had wanted to take her out to Starbucks for a coffee while telling her what I wanted to say. The mall was certainly going to be overflowing with people too. I sighed, resting my head against the window of her car, doing my best to spot an empty place before she would. It was almost like a game this way.

She turned the corner and slowly drove into the next lane. It seemed full as well. Soon we’d have to go up to the next floor. I felt my nails digging into my thigh, through the fabric of my skinny jeans. My stomach felt strange, tight, tensed. “God dammit,” Luna cursed when a car drove in from the other side and picked the only available spot in the row. She slammed the steering wheel and continued driving, turning up the ramp, onto the next floor.

I felt more guilty now. The next floor seemed full too, as far as I could tell from the first glimpse when we rounded the corner. Luna cursed again, and I started. “I did it!” I blurted out, not realizing I was talking until I heard the echo of my own voice in my ears. Luna didn’t react much. “You did what?” Her voice was strained, most likely because she was trying to focus on finding a free parking place. I decided it was best to continue. “I talked to Susi.”

“What? Why?” Luna’s eyes flickered for a split second as they turned to me, but then she was focused on the lines of cars again. It was easier, in a way. I could lie without her catching me. “I wanted to apologize.” My voice sounded airy, casual, but my fingers were shaking. Luna slammed her hand on the steering wheel again, from the corner of my eyes I saw her perfectly manicured nails reflect the dim, orange light in the parking lot. “No! Dammit, Kaysa, you’re not supposed to go near her. What were you apologizing for anyway, ruining her life?”

My heart started pounding, I felt a cold sweat break through my skin. I wanted to open the door of her car and escape this crossfire, I wanted to pull at my hair and claw at my face, but instead I stayed in my seat, immobilized. I heard the sirens of a police car in the near distance. “Yes.”

“I don’t believe you,” Luna said, through clenched teeth. I didn’t dare to look at her. My fingers dug into my thigh harder, I wanted to break my nails. Of course she didn’t believe me. She had been through it all with me. The hysterical screaming matches, the embarrassing police visits, the fake suicide letters, the fake love letters… “So? What did you say to her?” Luna asked impatiently as she drove up the next ramp, to the third floor of the parking lot. “There!” I pointed, excitedly, for a second forgetting the awkward conversation. Luna swung her car to the right, almost hitting the headlight of the car on the right. She cursed again and hit the brakes. Now I was getting annoyed too. “Why do you have to drive such a damn big car?”

Luna backed out again, searching for a new space. Her jaws were tight, her brow furrowed. “Why do you have to be such a fucking psychopath?” she bit back, and I wanted to slap her. I didn’t though. I would never cause anyone physical harm, that was not the kind of person I was. “I’m not!” I protested. “I just wanted to see if she was okay.”

Luna laughed dryly. “If she was okay after you stalking her for months? How kind of you.” Her sarcasm cut right through me and I shivered. “I hadn’t seen her in so long… It was really difficult to face her again you know? To know that she might be angry with me… Look, you’re supposed to be on my side here!” Luna laughed dryly again. “I’m here, aren’t I? And Susi has every right to be angry, and you should stay away from her. You could get arrested for real. Dammit Kaysa, I thought you were over that now. I thought you were back to normal.”

My heart skipped a beat, my stomach tightened in excitement. The sirens that I heard earlier seemed to be getting louder. Then they stopped. “There, an empty space! It’s big enough for you!”

“Who cares!” Luna yelled, but she still turned to the right, into the empty space that I had spotted. Her fingers were clamped so tightly around the steering wheel that her knuckles had turned white. She almost bumped into the car in front of her, then angrily pulled the keys out of the engine and looked at me with eyes that were flashing fire, her face paler than I had ever seen. “So, tell me, what did you say to her? Kaysa, what did you do?!”

Behind us a car door slammed shut, and I realised that it wasn’t her eyes that were flashing fire – it was the flashing red light of the police car that had parked right behind us. “I just told her that she’s the only one for me.”

10. A letter

I am telling you this story because you are the only person who will not judge me.

I set someone on fire. There, I said it. Just like that. A wave of my hand and he was screaming, rolling around on the ground, engulfed in flames. I could have saved him. There was a pond right next to me – I don’t know why he didn’t think to jump into it – and there was a blanket on the grass right behind me – we had been sitting on it earlier. But I didn’t use either to save his life. I just watched him as he writhed in agony, eaten alive by the heat, screaming for help, crying out in the worst pain I could imagine.

I hate to admit it, but I was fascinated. By the fact that that was my doing – my work, so to speak, and by how long it took him to die. The human body is something quite amazing, isn’t it? I caused this man to be on fire without even knowing I could, and no matter how futile it seemed, he just didn’t seem to be able to give up. But he did all the wrong things, it seems that one can’t use the logical part of his brain when he’s on fire. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

It was a simple flick of the wrist, and then the fire started with his hair. No fireball that flew through the air, not even a spark. Suddenly there was smoke, and then a small flame, and then a bigger one. At first he didn’t even realise it, it was only from my alarmed stare that he reached for his head – or maybe that’s when he started feeling the scorching of his scalp, I don’t know. But then it was already too late. It wouldn’t have been if I had helped him, let’s be honest – but I didn’t do anything, didn’t lift a finger. And so the fire spread, faster than I thought it would. It was nothing like making a campfire – do you remember when we used to do that, make campfires, sit around them, talk well into the night while waiting for some disgusting stew to cook into a grey mass? If I had known I could have lit fires just with a gesture of my hand, I would never have spent hours fiddling with sticks and dried leaves. Or let you do that, if I recall correctly. But apparently it takes some anger and some fear, and not relaxing evenings with friends. But, I digress.

The fire went from his long hair to his robes, and then it was a done deal. The flames latched onto the fabric so easily, and the robes extended all the way to the ground and covered his entire body, so he was burning all over, literally from head to toe. Come to think of it, he reminded me of one of our campfires, only much bigger – and very mobile. He rolled around for a long time, flailing helplessly, making sounds that I didn’t even think could exist even from an animal. It’s probably even worse that it made me think of marshmallows, even if just for a split second. Yeah, that’s really evil. It certainly didn’t smell like marshmallows, ew.

Either way, I did think of that, and eventually he stopped flailing. But he was still alive, because I saw his chest moving. The flames died down and the bits of his skin I could see were completely blackened, except his eyes. That’s weird, isn’t it? I thought he was looking at me, but I think he really had already died at that point. I didn’t dare to come closer to make sure. Maybe he would still come to his sense and cast some kind of freezing spell on me. Why didn’t he do that to himself? I’ve wondered that.

Either way, he’s dead. Not in the way that I had imagined, but then again, in my cunning plan I hadn’t taken into account that he might see through me and turn on me before I could even reach my blade. You were right, he is frightening – so cruel and calculating, and creepily creative as well. But don’t worry about me, I’m fine, and if I’m not, I will be. The most important thing is that you’re safe now. I know you didn’t ask me to kill him – I decided he deserved to die because of what he did to you, I made that decision all on my own. It’s a rare thing all in itself, isn’t it? Me making decisions. I hope you’re proud of me. I hope you’ll come back to me. I need to learn more about this ability. Maybe you can help me practice.

5. Now or never or not.

He looked down at the street far below. The cars looked like ants from here, and he could only tell the people by their colourful umbrellas. It reminded him of old-fashioned computer games, but much further away. He didn’t even feel the rain anymore. It had already soaked through his clothes on his way from the door to the edge of the roof. It had been cold at first, but now it didn’t bother him anymore.

He shuffled closer. His toes were now past the edge of the concrete edge of the roof. It looked almost cool, if he only focused on the tips of his dress shoes, contrasting against the moving pin pricks down below. He wondered if there was someone he knew down there. Probably not. He didn’t even know anyone in this building anyway.

He turned around, so he was no longer looking down at the street, but facing the length of the roof, and in the distance the other forty-story-or-higher buildings here in the centre of town. It was reassuring, it made him feel lonelier, and it gave him the strength to do what he was planning to do.

He hadn’t heard from her for a few days now. She had ignored his calls, e-mails and other messages, refused to open the door if he went to her house, and today he had even received the automated message that her number was no longer in use. No matter how often he had told her he was sorry, she hadn’t even wanted to listen. He couldn’t really blame her, to be honest. He had ruined everything, and everything was pointless now. He had nothing left.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. It was now or never.

It felt weird when he fell. There was an immediate sense of panic, a kneejerk reaction to keep his balance, but then he was free. Cold air soared all around him, wind jerked at his clothes. He closed his eyes, because he didn’t know if he was crying or if it was just the wind or the rain making his face wet.

In a split second, a familiar sound caught his attention. He instinctively opened his eyes, saw his curtains in a flash. He had just passed his own apartment on the twenty-eight floor. He had left his window open, for some reason, and the curtains were billowing out. The sound he heard was his phone ringing. His mobile phone that he had left inside, on the window sill. It had to be his, nobody else still used that Nokia ringtone.

His heart started racing, and suddenly he felt hot. This suddenly seemed like a bad dream, or a dark comedy. He wanted to wake up, or turn off the TV.

In another reflex, he looked down at the street. A small, red car was parked in front of the entrance. Even from the rapidly shrinking distance, he could tell that it was a Mini Cooper. It was hers.

4. The pink room

It’s all a bit pink in here. From the looks of it, you’d think a teenage girl lives here, or even younger. The walls on one side are covered with black and white striped wallpaper, the door is pink. Kind of reminds me of Alice in Wonderland to be honest. The rug on the floor is also pink, of course.

There’s a single bed covered with a, you guessed it, pink duvet covers and pillows; if she knew she had a “guest”, I would have been a bit annoyed that she hadn’t thought to change that into something more ‘adult’. There are even stuffed animals on the bed – two fraggle dolls, a rather large bunny dressed in a New York outfit (so cheesy it must be bought there) and something like a bipolar bear (it smiles on one side and cries on the other).

I’m actually surprised there is no unicorn somewhere.

Wait, after looking in one of the cupboards I take that back – there are a couple of My Little Ponies on one of the shelves. I’m surprised there is room for something else than clothes though, because she really has a lot. And I mean, a lot. Shoes as well. Shoes are everywhere. I think she only wears the same pair though, because they all look so new.

The wardrobe is filled with dresses. I’m already familiar with that. There must be about a hundred of them, neatly hanging on clothes hangers. There’s hardly room for anymore hangers. In the back are a few dress jackets she never wears- they’re getting all dusty. She never really looks that far to the back, but that’s a good thing for me. I never have to worry about being discovered. I’m tempted to try on some of the dresses, but I’m not sure I’d look that good in them. Too boney.

There are a couple of bookshelves, filled with books ranging from manga to books about sociolinguistics, books in Swedish, Dutch and English. There is lots of horror, which I like. Some shelves are reserved for photographs, DVD’s and Xbox games. The Xbox and the TV are conveniently placed at the foot end of the bed, so I’m going to enjoy that while covered by those girly pink bedsheets. There’s also a CD cabinet against one of the walls, but no CD player. There is a music player though, to plug in your MP3 player or laptop. That comes in handy.

There’s a desk, too. With a chair with lots of cat hairs on it. I guess the cat enjoys watching cat videos on Youtube just as much as I do.

The window looks out over nothing. The fire escape, to be exact. Not very entertaining. And strangely, the curtains are blue.  Doesn’t match with the rest of the room, also, they appear to be close to falling down.

Hm, I think I hear footsteps. Better get back to the wardrobe. Maybe I will try on one of those dresses after all, before I move again when I’m done here.

3. Semper fi.

That was the time he stopped believing that any promise he had made actually mattered.

With nothing but his backpack, filled with guns and grenades, and her wedding ring he sat in the back of the train. He stared out the window, watching the snowy scenery fly by so fast that it was merely a blur, and he recalled the events that brought him here, but his mind didn’t want to know. There was a faint echo of her voice, but his mind refused to make sense of the words, even though he still knew exactly what they were. In just a few sentences, a few seconds in which she had made up her mind, his whole life had fallen apart.

He had always been a military man, like his father and his grandfather. They all fought in the army on Hieronymous, and he was only 16 when he joined as well. He was proud to pledge his life to the army. Semper fi. Forever. Fastforward ten years, and he made it to sergeant. And not just by looks. He made sure he got every skill possible, every achievement, every challenge. In the mean time, he married his commanding officer. He pledged her his life too.

At first, it was great. Lots of shooting, lots of responsibility, and lots of praise because he was really good at what he did. He had some skills nobody else possessed; give him some explosions and watch the blood-splattered fireworks. And he had his Sabre Turret, the automated gun with built in friend-or-foe system. The love of his life, as he jokingly called her. Of course, being married to his officer helped too, because he got the best assignments. At least at first.

Resting his head against the window, he closed his eyes tightly for a moment. It wasn’t enough, of course. All the glory was great when he was a teenager, but after that, it became part of the routine. Engaging in heavy fire one his own against twenty bad guys wasn’t such a thrill anymore, neither was blowing up the council building with the council still inside, and after that, blowing someone’s intestines out up close lost its charm too. And there was only so much you could do with a turret gun after you had maxed out all her upgrades, as fun as it was to throw her into the unsuspecting faces of whoever was trying to kill him this time.

He wondered if he should have seen it coming, somehow. Between all the killing and the murder and the violence, she might have dropped some hints. Maybe when she decided that maybe she didn’t want to have children after all. Or when she started making snide comments about his turret gun. Or when she thought it was a good idea that they each have their own bed room. Or when she was never home anymore when he was. When was the last time they even talked at all? Except their last conversation, anyway.

So maybe in hindsight, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that he was now on Pandora, on a train, alone with his guns and his military training. In a way it was a miracle that he was there at all, because he had only barely escaped the firing squad. It was thanks to her though, despite of everything she had given him the chance to run. Off planet, and even here they were hunting him for war crimes, but it was better than being shot in front of everyone who once respected him. Or was it?

He slowly reached up to touch the ring that was hanging from the dog tag chain around his neck. Fingered the hard metal, the sharp edges of the stone set into it. The small plates engraved with his name and rank. The Dahl logo. Semper fi. Forever. Forever got cut short. He closed his eyes tightly, tugged on the chain. And she hated diamonds. But he must have done something right, somewhere along the line, if she saved his life.

The train slowed down and he focused on the scenery again. The cold blue of the sky reminded him of her eyes. The first time he’d seen her. The moment he knew that she was going to be the next chapter in his life, a new adventure, new excitement. He had never had a girlfriend before, he didn’t have the time, or he just couldn’t be bothered when he had explosives and a mounted gun.

He had heard that Pandora was a violent, cruel place, full of creatures that wanted to kill you. He couldn’t wait to meet them. He felt some familiar kind of excitement mixed with his sadness. It was a hint, but it was something. Maybe he could do this.

The train stopped. In the middle of mountains and valleys of blinding white snow was a tiny station, just a small platform of wilted wood. In the distance he saw some movement, but it was too far away to make out what it was exactly, just that it wasn’t human, and it was big. A girl with striped tights was waiting on the platform.  When she got on the train he noticed she had a shotgun strapped to her back. She couldn’t be older than eighteen, but she was alone and she was alive. He had heard that Pandora was a violent, cruel place, and that everything and everyone was hungry for blood. He felt some familiar kind of excitement mixed with his sadness. It was a hint, but it was something. Maybe he could do this.

2. Are you afraid of the dark? The answer is yes.

So, I’m afraid of the dark. Yeah, there it is. I remember when I was a little kid I hid behind one of my stuffed animals so I couldn’t see it when the monsters came into my room, and it was considered cute. It was okay, because I was four years old and little kids are supposed to be afraid, right?

But it never passed. When I was a little older, about ten years old, my parents let me watch the Thriller video. I didn’t sleep for three nights after that. I kept the light on my bedside table on and put a sock over it so it wouldn’t shine too brightly and my parents didn’t notice. Of course they did notice, if anything by the increased amount of socks with burn marks on them.  It started to become a little less cute by then.

At thirteen, I had my first boyfriend, and us and a group of friends had made a habit out of watching movies together after school. One of the movies was Nightmare on Elm Street. Previously horror movies had a surprisingly mild effect on me, I watched Pet Sematary without any nightmares, but Freddy Krueger sent me to another sleepless week and from that, I have never fully recovered. It’s definitely no longer cute.

Around the age of sixteen, I tried to desensitise myself by watching as many horror movies as I could. I stayed up until 4 am sometimes just to watch the Saturday night scare that the BBC used to show. It helped a great deal, even though I spent most of my teenage years being terrified of zombies until the great zombie hype desensitised me too. Now I avoid zombie movies because I find them boring.

Even though I don’t spend many nights lying awake because I’m scared of things that go bump in the dark anymore (it’s mostly the “real” stuff that keeps me up now), I still never step into a room without turning on the lights first. I get that it’s kind of weird to see me standing in front of the threshold, my hand reaching through the gap in the door frantically patting the wall looking for the light switch, but trust me, in those moments my heart is racing. I also never pass open doors after dark, because there is something that scares me to death about staring into that black void. And mirrors, especially late at night when I am brushing my teeth, I avoid standing right in front of one. Another silly thing is 3 am. I either want to sleep before or well after three am because trying to fall asleep at 3.05 – yeah, not gonna happen.

I know, it sounds ridiculous, I’m a grown woman, and I don’t even really know what I’m afraid of. I suppose it’s the “unknown”, things that people say that aren’t real and yet others say that it is real, such as ghosts, demons, poltergeists, the things that supposedly happen despite all the evidence being dismissed as fake.

I have accepted this by now. I happily read all the creepypasta I can find, I engross myself playing horror games, and I’m a big fan of Stephen King and horror books in general. Hell, I’ve even written one myself. Whenever I have the smart idea of watching a horror movie at night and subsequently I spend the night covered under my duvet, staring wide-eyed into my room to see if something is moving, and running to the bathroom and back as fast as I can while looking down at the floor, I know the next morning I can just roll my eyes at myself.

You’re free to do that too, roll your eyes and tease me, make fun of me, laugh at me. You can even tell me I’m being ridiculous, that I need to grow up and behave like an adult. It’s all okay, because I know, and that’s exactly what I tell myself when I am once again panicking for not finding the light switch quickly enough and expect something will grab my hand any second now.

Just don’t make me look into a mirror at 3 am to prove there’s nothing there.

1. Priorities

I know I’ve never been good at keeping plants – it’s too hot in the living room and too cold in my bedroom, and I give too much water or too little – so I vowed never to get a houseplant anymore. They were just a hassle, and I ended up with too many empty pots. Until you came along. I don’t have any knowledge of your species, but you just looked so pretty and green, with those cute little flowers, and I just couldn’t resist. I brought you home and immediately you made the room look brighter, bigger, and happier. You changed the way I look at houseplants forever. I tried my best to take care of you, put you in a place where you had some sun and some shades, feed and water you like your label said, and yes, I even made myself look foolish by telling you good morning and good night every day. And we were doing well – or so I thought.

Yesterday I noticed one of your leafs isn’t the same shade of green anymore. It’s turning brown, and when I touch it, it feels like it could break. You really have me worried here, little houseplant. I’ll never dare to keep another plant, and the pot will be empty forever, taking space in my cupboard with all the others, taking space where something useful could be instead. Like a fondue set, or a power drill, or a box with love letters from an ex. So you see, I need that space.

Even though one of your leafs is dying, I can still see your cute little flowers, you’re still hanging on there, and I need you to fight. Because if you die, like all the other plants before you, I will have one more empty pot.