Category Archives: vignette

17. Reflections

Sunrays shining on your back, playing with the shadows of the leaves when the wind rustles in the trees above us. It shows beautiful, ever-changing shapes.

The sun reflects on your hair and makes it shine golden. The color changes every time the wind softly blows on it. There’s deep golden, light yellow and the contrasting dark brown when the gusts play with the soft hairs in your neck.

And when the sun shines in your eyes, they turn into endless clear ponds. There’s a fraction of your soul at the surface, but when you try and look closely it’s already disappeared. Only guessing what’s on your mind is left for me to do.

Your toned skin mirrors the sun as your muscles flex under its heat. It looks like there are a million different shades, varying from pale white to deep bronze, and if I look closely I can see the soft hairs on your body reflect the light like tiny glass needles.

Little, silvery beads of sweat form on your forehead. Some of them roll down, like tiny rivers they slowly roll down your cheekbones.

I love watching you as you are lying next to me. There’s so much to see. The sun somehow makes your best features look even more beautiful. People stop and stare.

And yet I know the most beautiful part of you is only meant for me, because every time you look at me I see a reflection of how much you love me.

16. Soulmates never die

Summer is here. The sun is hot and yellow. People in heat walk past, laughing, talking, happy, dressed in colourful summerclothes. Tanned skin, dark glasses to hide their eyes. The sun reflects on the water, almost blinding me. When I look through my squinted eyes, I see your face, rippled by the waves, wide-eyed, calling for me.

I do not wear sunglasses, my skin is pale, and my clothes are black. Tears run across my cheeks, I feel them and taste them. They are warm and salty, and remind me of you.

You are not here, and summer seems meaningless. The sun is shining for a reason I can’t see anymore, and people are laughing while my soul is dying. I feel myself melting and fading to dust, like vampires in movies do, under the heat that feels golden, and makes me feel desperate.

I look down at the river beneath me. I want to feel myself surrounded by the water, let my body float with the waves, want to close my eyes and become weightless and numb. It’s so tempting. I want to be with you.

Slowly I lift myself up on the railing, feel the warm wind through my hair. I close my eyes, and fall. A few seconds maybe, before my body hits the water. I feel the sun on my back, but it fades, as I sink deeper into the black coolness. I can almost reach you now. You are here, it’s true. Soulmates never die.

14. I see you

Your eyes meet mine. Blue versus grey. Life versus lifeless. Life versus nothing. You in a nutshell – all or nothing. Your mouth moves but you don’t speak, the empty words flutter about in the stale air and pop like balloons and I don’t hear them. I don’t have to hear them to know what they are about. Lies, meant to make me feel better, spoken in the careless, nonchalant way that you always talk about your day as if it was the most mundane day in the history of ever. Little white lies to cover the big black hole.

I remember dark, cold early mornings, your trembling body pressed to my back, your desperate hands clawing at my skin, your terrified breath in my neck. You never meant to wake me but you always did. You needed me. Now I wake up to an empty bed, sheets still warm and damp where you used to be, moments ago, alone with your demons, fighting them on your own. Sometimes I admire your bravery, other times I hate you for it.

Drowning in the fire of your own personal hell, you look at me with those eyes and tell me that you’re happy. Behind the blue I can see the fires burning. Sometimes I think I can hear all of your silent screams in the background when you speak about work, the dogs, what you want for dinner, the shopping list. Sometimes I want to take your hand and look at the old scars on your wrist and ask if you still think about them. Because I do.

Your body is strained from the pressure you’re always under. The weight of the world, the weight of your fears, and the weight of me. You’re always climbing an unending mountain, always running against the storm, always engaged in this perpetual fight, every second of every minute of every day. Your demons and mine.

I look into your eyes and I wonder if it’s me. If it’s me that is the demon you’re running away from this time. I’m boring, I’m selfish, I’m ugly and I’m old- I’m everything that you’re not. I can’t give you what you need because I’m a coward, I can’t protect you because I’m weak, I can only love you because you let me. I don’t know why you stay.

But then you smile and it’s still you.

You stopped talking. I forgot to listen, but I see you. The fire in your eyes burns and leaves more scars on my soul, but I wear them with pride. I don’t look away, because I can see you behind it all, and you’re still here.

13. December

Cold winter air makes his breath look like clouds. Snow crunches under his feet, he walks slowly, not because he is afraid to slip, but because he is not in a hurry to get where he needs to be. Hands pushed deep into the pockets of a warm, leather jacket, ears covered with a woollen hat, but the lobes are still red from cold. It’s almost dark already, in the middle of the day, in the city that God has forgotten in the country that God has dismissed.

He is alone, as always. Alone with his thoughts, his own voice in his head, offering commentary to the most basic tasks such as walking home from the bus stop on a school day in December. There was nothing basic about this day though. Life had changed around lunch time.

Someone had shown up at school, someone new. A photocopy print of the kind of Ikea advertisement they would show in other countries, mediocrity and perfection all in one beautiful Swedish design. A cliché that is real, and painful because it’s good. The kind of person that isn’t native to the small failure of this town, where everyone is a loser, an outsider, an outcast.

His eyes are trained on the blond hair and the flannel jacket, the mouth is moving, some other stupid kid is talking too, and then there is a fast movement but he sees it as if it is a slow motion. A fist lands on a nose, he can imagine the cracking sound of the bone, the stupid kid clutches his nose. Red drops in the mushy, grey-ish snow. Never has there been a more effective introduction than this.

The blonde head turns, strands of hair bounce with the movement as it is pulled towards the school building. Blue eyes, defiant and full of life, they have a spark, a spark that nobody in this entire hellhole of a city has ever been able to replicate.

In that one second his life changes. He knows it immediately, as the blue eyes have already looked away without even seeing him, disappeared behind the darkness of the wooden doors. Mediocre perfection at its most beautiful.

12. Little Ego

June came along too fast. He wasn’t ready for summer, his pale skin turning red at the smallest ray of sun, and it became too warm to hide himself in layers of clothes. The sky was the bluest of blue, the kind of blue that only exists on a Swedish summer day, and he was still wearing his scarf. The bus stop was deserted, people had already left the sleepy suburb hours ago to gather in the city park and soak in the sun with their little families, their sweet red strawberry salads, their sugary Festis drinks, perfectly manufactured smiles – everything perfectly artificial, society’s drug.

And yet here he was, at the bus stop, the last one of the line. It was where bus 2 took him to school and back every weekday, and to band meetings and back every weekend. Not this day, though. There was no school, no band meeting. He had nowhere to be other than here. His white and blue striped scarf fluttered on a breath of warm wind, and he noticed he was sweating underneath the knitted wool. Yet he pulled up the collar of his jeans jacket a little bit more, to hide his face, as he pretended to lean against the timetable post casually. He was never casual, he was always anxious and awkward. But he could pretend, like the best of them. It was in his genes, his DNA.

Any minute now. A shiver ran through him, he pushed his hands deeper into the pockets of his jeans. He chewed his bottom lip, the only sign of anxiety he had never been able to conquer so far, because the tiny jabs of pain when he bit too hard kept him grounded. No amount of his mother’s Nivea creme had ever cured the rawness and the scabbing. He didn’t care. It wasn’t like those lips were ever going to kiss anybody. The sun burned on the back of his head and his shadow in front of him looked weird, like a fat gnome without a face.

Then it happened, finally. The door of the house across the bus stop opened. He tried to be even more casual, if he could he would drown in his casualness right now. The hedge blocked most of his view, but he saw a tip of blonde hair move towards the car parked on the driveway. He heard a boyish voice, and recognised the little brother, then another voice, the one that was also boyish, but less, the one that had never managed to lose the westcoast accent, the voice he heard in his dreams and in his head constantly. He swallowed thickly and held his breath.

A blue and white striped t-shirt, matching his scarf, football shorts, knee high football socks. Football bag thrown carelessly into the trunk. Messy blonde hair, tanned skin. Blue eyes that didn’t see him. The doors of the car closed one by one, 4 times including the trunk, the car drove away, past him. A glimpse of those blue eyes, then it was gone.

He let out his breath and noticed he was trembling. Sweat ran down his face, down his back, the palms of his hands were burning. The bus came to start its round, he got on, he was alone. As the bus made its way towards the city centre, he counted his change. Just enough to make it to the football field up north and back.

9. A dream

It was only a dream.  Alex sat up, and he could feel his heartbeat pounding in his ears. The wind was howling outside, dragging around the little flat that he had been renting for the past eight months and seemingly also right through it even though he felt no relief of cool air against his hot, sweaty skin. The bedroom door rattling in its lock said otherwise though. He took a deep breath and swung his legs over the side of the bed until his feet touched the wooden floor beneath it. His bare feet padded towards the bathroom where he didn’t bother to turn the lights on before splashing some water on his face. He still remembered the dream, he hated dreams that were so vivid that it felt like they were real. They had too many colours, too much noise, it was hurting his eyes and ears even now that he was awake. He pinched the bridge of his nose to try and make it stop, maybe the world would stop spinning this time for real. But when he looked up into the dark mirror, what he saw was still his own face, grimacing against the very steady and solid background of his own bathroom.

With a sigh he ran his hand through his damp hair, and realised just how much he had been sweating. He would have taken a shower, but he knew the rusty pipes would wake up the neighbours, and there would once again be hell to pay. He was sick of the little notes taped to his door, complaining in old-fashioned handwriting about the noise, or the smell, or whatever petty thing they could think of. He always tried to keep the noise down to a minimum, and he was pretty certain there was never a foul smell. He kept the place tidy, replaced the bin bags whenever they were full, did his dishes. He didn’t keep pets either, unlike his neighbours. He could smell the cat litter through the walls on hot days, but he never complained. It didn’t seem to be a neighbourly thing to do, did it? He just kept to himself. What was the point in socialising with a group of pensioners anyway? He would have plenty of time to do so thirty or forty years from now.

After staring at his own reflection and having come to the conclusion that the world was really still the same shit as the one he had fallen asleep on just a few hours ago, he decided that sleep would be out of the question for the night. Maybe something on TV would amuse him enough that would at least forget about his dreams. The flat was so small that it only took him a few steps to reach the living room and he opened the door that separated it from the central hall that connected all of the rooms. It was dark, despite of the city lights, and once again he didn’t bother to turn the lights on. Nathan might still be asleep on the couch, and he wouldn’t want to wake him. He carefully sat down in one of the comfortable recliners and reached for the remote control, that was on the coffee table as always. He liked tidiness in his house, almost to an obsession, but it never failed to make his mother proud.

As soon as he had pressed the button on the remote to turn the tv on, he hit the volume adjustment to turn it down. Nathan needed his sleep, but he didn’t think the light would wake him. Infomercials. That’s what was always on this time of night, he should have known. He wasn’t particularly interested in buying a food processor, so he changed the channels. It was good to have digital television, there were about seven hundred channels to choose from nowadays. Not that there was ever anything on. An old movie. Maybe the pensioners would be watching that. Sex advertisements. Now there was something. It enraged him when people sold their bodies like that. It was mostly women on the television ads but men were just as good at it, he knew from seeing them in the clubs he sometimes went to. Men and women were the same when placed in the right environment, and the uglier they were, the easier they were too. It made him shudder in disgust.

The girl on the television wasn’t exactly ugly, but she wasn’t his standard of pretty either. No girl dressed in a skirt that was no bigger than a belt, a bra that was three sizes too small, and a little black thong would ever qualify as pretty or beautiful to his standards. What did men ever see in them? Men like Nathan… But that was just a phase. He changed the channel once again, and then again, until the very obviously fake face of a werewolf filled the screen. Why not? At least he might smile a little at the ridiculousness of a cult movie like that.

He turned his head at a sound coming from the couch, it sounded a little like a moan. In the darkness he couldn’t see all that well, but he still refused to turn the lights on. Maybe the ropes around his wrists were starting to bother Nathan, or maybe he had heard the sound of the television now anyway and it was keeping him from sleeping. When his eyes were used to the darkness again after looking into the light of the television, he could see that Nathan’s arms were still perfectly stretched over his head the way he had left him earlier that night. He knew the restraints weren’t too tight, he had practiced enough on himself to know they were done quite perfectly, if he said so himself. The blindfold was also still in place, and the sheet that he had used to cover his almost naked body didn’t seem like it had moved.

“It’s okay, you can sleep some more. It’s still early,” he whispered close to his ear, and smiled.

7. I left my heart to roast in the desert

The desert always looked tempting.

In the middle of the day, when the sun was at its peak, you could taste the heat. With every breath, every step forward, every heartbeat, you were on fire from the feet up. The hot air scorched your throat and all around was the sickening scent of burning. Burning corpses, burning rock, burning rubber. The desert was the embodiment of hostility and hatred, to its very core. The hostility had seeped into all its inhabitants, creatures, humans, even plants. Every living thing was out to kill you, more for the thrill of the kill than in order to survive. Throats were ripped open in broad daylight, people were shot from behind and left to rot on the side of the road. Nothing was hidden.

The temperature barely cooled off during the nights. Sometimes there was a breeze, which made it somewhat more bearable. The darkness brought comfort from the scorching heat, but the air was clammy and sultry. It brought out a different type of hunter: the stalking kind, the kind that wanted their kills to be slow and perverted, the kind that liked to watch. The ones who were so depraved they would find their way into any kind of housing, just to get to their prey, knowing their prey never slept without a gun under the pillow and one eye open.

Once, it had been different. There was no way it was ever going to turn back, though.

Still, it suited him, the hot sandy temptress that lay bare before him now, glowing golden in the sunlight, literally on fire. The rock he was sitting on was burning through his combat trousers, sweat was slowly running down his temples. A cactus brought a elongated shadow that at least protected his back from the sun. Even sitting here for twenty minutes was enough to make him feel like he was boiling alive.

He had been here for a while now. He had lived on this planet for a few months, and he had stopped missing “home”. He lived his life here like what was expected of him: live and let die, quite literally. Who paid the most got the job done, and he had earned himself another cartridge of ammo, another bite to eat and another ale to drink, maybe some company. Another day to cross off. He regretted nothing.

Still, it would be easy to get up, right now, and start walking. The horizon seemed far enough away, like a black line dividing the gold and the blue, slightly blurry in the heat. What would he find if he just kept walking, other than a throat ripped open or a bullet in the head? How long would it take to run into an oasis, the ones with the wells and the palm trees and the soda machines that he heard in other people’s tales? Or maybe there was another world at the end of the desert, one that was not made out of hatred and homicidal tendencies?

He wiped his forehead, checked the magazine of his gun just to be sure, and slowly slid off the rock. The sand crunched under his boots, his feet were already on fire. The horizon was waiting. He smiled, more to himself than anything else, and turned around. Back to the small village, the messy slums and concrete apartments, where the people lived that had welcomed him in. He had found a safe zone there, and in return he helped to protect them. He could do this for a little while longer, before he would find out what the temptress had to offer.

6. Silence

Sometimes there’s nothing left to say, I think when I look at his face. He stares into the distance, the blue eyes cold, as ice, as usual. His jaws are tensed, the cheekbones protruding, he is gritting his teeth like he always does. Lost in thoughts. Angry thoughts, violent thoughts. Thoughts of getting out of here alive. His skin is pale, but not paler than it normally is, even though his cheeks are showing this angry red glow they get when he is either excited or aggravated. A thin layer of sweat covers his face, and his dark, short hair is slightly damp as well. It’s hot here, there’s no ventilation, just four walls, a ceiling and a floor.

He sits, and pulls his knees up, wraps his arms around them. He isn’t comfortable in his clothes, the uniform is heavy and restrictive, and very hot. He moves slowly, hesitantly. I’m scared he is going to cry, but he doesn’t. He still stares at the wall, but for a second I saw something that reminded me of something else in his eyes. He blinks it away though, quickly before it escapes. Men don’t cry. He firmly believes that. I think it’s bullshit. I want to tell him that it’s bullshit, but I don’t want to talk. Don’t want to hear my own voice, echoing between these concrete walls.

He fiddles, aimlessly. His hands are a mess. Bruised, knuckles scraped. It hadn’t been easy, capturing him. He never goes down without a fight. Not in a verbal argument, not in a physical race for his life. He’s silent, but stubborn. I admire it as much as it annoys me. Brooding, cocky, and relentless. Mysterious, arrogant, and so very strong. Underestimated. But not this time.

There’s a red smear on the collar of his uniform. I only notice it now, when I look closer. I wonder if it’s his blood or someone else’s, but again, I don’t say anything. I just watch. Watch him. Watch over him. I wonder if he even knows I’m still here.