short story by Bea Graansma

BG 141 – The Swing Realm

“Not too high on that swing!” shouted an unfamiliar male voice behind her. But she didn’t care. The construction creaked every now and then, but it was able to support her almost mature body just fine. With her hands tightly wrapped around the rough ropes, sitting on the smooth-worn oak plank, she swung her legs straight forward and hanging in the ropes with the wind through her hair she went higher and higher.

At the highest point she felt for a moment like her intestines made a little jump, then she swung back down again. Past the lowest point she pulled her feet up toward the plank. High up at the back she hang motionless for a split second before whizzing forward again with even more speed and stretched legs, pulling on the ropes.

She went higher and higher. She felt like she was flying, like she was being released from the ground, from this playground, from her old neighborhood, from her narrow minded home.
Woohoo! Higher and higher! Forward – stretch, backward – fold.
Stretch – fold, stretch – fold, stretch – fold.
She could already look over the trees in the distance and see miniature houses and tiny cars and tiny people moving.
A sense of ultimate freedom washed over her.

“Not so high on that swing!” the same male voice called from behind her. Oh no? We’ll see about that! And she went even higher, ever higher.
Maybe, just maybe, she could do a somersault. If only she could speed up enough. Speed up enough to not fall straight down on the swing and break her bones on the wooden construction.
Better yet, she’d jump out. Jump out on the front highest point. She had done that before. Higher, higher, ever higher, and then let go at the halt point and let the swing fall back without her. The speed she was making would make her fly a long way forward. Really fly!

When she was little and swinging barefoot, things had gone wrong once: she had missed an old roll of barbed wire in the tall grass and landed on it with her foot. The little wound had bled, and she’d gone home limping to have it washed out, disinfected with iodine, and put on a band-aid. She had immediately gone back to play outside, but she was never allowed to jump off a swing again.
That was years ago. Now she was old and wise enough to decide for herself.

Occasionally, halfway through the back swing, she would push her feet off the ground to gain even more speed and height. She had to time that right, otherwise she would wobble and lose height.
Swoosh up, and swoosh down again, stomp, quickly raise her legs again and swoosh back up!

She thoroughly enjoyed it. Forward again, sticking her legs out as far as possible. But…, what was that? At the highest point, the toes of her shoes had disappeared for a moment…
Even faster, even higher! And this time she couldn’t see all of her feet anymore!
Woohoo! How was that possible?
Even harder, even further! Now even her ankles were invisible for a short while!
“Hey little lady, not so high!” the man behind her called out now. But he shouldn’t interfere. Sure enough, every time she went a little further forward and up, a larger part of her legs became invisible.
Would the others see that too? To her left a little boy was swinging, but he didn’t go nearly as high as she did.

Would she jump? “Don’t jump off the swing!” a voice from the past echoed in her mind, but here the grass had just been cut and there was no old roll of barbed wire hidden in it. Back and forth a few more times and then, when she really couldn’t go any higher, she would jump.
There she went! Woohoo!

The swing fell back without her and continued to move on its own for a while.
Now it was only an empty wooden plank hanging from two ropes.
Astonished screams sounded. The bystanders had noticed that she no longer sat on the swing. They looked around, trying to find her. Where could she have gone? Before them stretched only a bare lawn, where you could not hide. Where on earth had she gone?
“Hey hellooo?” “Hey, where are you?”

She heard their voices in the distance as she landed softly on lush moss growing in a clearing in a mysterious forest unknown to her. It was beautiful!
For the first time in her life she was free, completely free!

BG 134 – The Clap Cow

This morning The Maakster on her daily walk through Quiet Belgian Village came along the Noensewegel, an idyllic bicycle/footpath with on the right, behind a wire mesh fence and then a ditch, cows in meadows. It was customary in good weather for a group of cows to be in one of the meadows, but this time the farmer had spread them over several ones, probably because he had recently made hay and there was not much left to eat per field.

The Maakster stopped to look at a cow that lay close to her, a meter from the ditch, ruminating, each time banging her teeth together with a remarkable noise. As if she had bad fitting dentures.
It was really just an ugly animal. It had a dirty white color with a few light gray spots here and there that looked like you could just rinse them off with a garden hose. But she had something special: that clapping of her teeth. The beast struggled to get up with her thick elongated body on rather short legs, …

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BG 132 – 100 Words Fiction

Damn tree with shit birds

Lying on his back, in the young grass, under the curly hazel.
The branches move gracefully in the wind. The leaves are bright green, the sky above blue, the sheep clouds cute white.
He shuts out the city noises, concentrates on the twittering of the birds.
Magpies, magpie-birds. There are two in the curly hazel every day.
The same every day? He doesn’t know, he can’t tell them apart.
She will not come again. Not today, not tomorrow, not all summer.
She will never see the magpie-birds with him again.
Goddamn, right in his eye!

BG 125 – 100 Words Fiction

New route

This time everything was different. The route, the feeling, the arrival time, the destination. She walked along the deserted track and felt the cold rain, but in the distance there was always the mountaintop, sometimes shrouded in mist or watered by rain, more often silvery gray in the distant sunshine, while she walked in the shadows. Last time, on the previous route, she was he. He walked elsewhere, in another time, towards another fate. Initially, today was more promising, more challenging, but in the end still normal, as always. She walked close to where he used to walk.

BG 122 – A thriller in 33 words

His heart beat fast and sweat stung his eyes.
He pressed his back against the rock face and heard the stones fall.
His shoes barely found grip on the remaining patch of ledge.

BG 105 – Kitty from Hamburg

Just last week he had called her. She had sounded cheerful.
“No, no, no, don’t!” she’d yelled, laughing.
“What’s that, aunt?”
“I was talking to Kitty from Hamburg.”
“To who?”
“My kitty!” she laughed, “I was talking to my kitty!”
“Ah okay.” That spoiled rotten cat of hers…
“She ran off with my bead again, hahaa!”
She had always been a little strange, his great-aunt.

And now she was lost.
This morning she hadn’t come to drink a cup of coffee with her neighbors, the Nose couple, at her usual time. She didn’t answer the phone, the newspaper was still in the mailbox, the back door still locked, and she didn’t even respond to the doorbell.
Oh my, oh my.
Couldn’t he come by with the spare key? …

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BG 100 – I lived a hundred lives

Although I don’t get out much, I already lived more than a hundred lives this year.

How is that possible?
I read over a hundred books and in each of those stories I empathized with the main characters.

I visited almost the whole world together with tireless travelers, I relived early love together with teenagers, I endured setbacks together with people of all ages and backgrounds, I fought off attackers together with people who wouldn’t let it happen anymore, I fought against injustice together with people who refused to be suppressed any longer, my personality developed together with that of people who struggled through obstacles in their lives, my compassion grew together with that of people who went through a lot but learned to forgive, I felt a vibrant new energy together with people who pursued their passions, but also the ultimate emptiness together with people who reluctantly started every new day, I prepared for death together with people at the end of their lives, I mourned together with those left behind, I found solutions for complicated problems together with real go-getters and their friends, I programmed and hacked my way out of tricky situations together with computer nerds, I won matches together with champions, and lost them together with people who didn’t make it to the top, I barely survived together with people who were struggling, I committed murders together with hardened criminals, tracked down criminals together with disillusioned detectives, I solved the climate problems together with clever minds, I traveled through the last stretches of untouched nature together with nature lovers, and I experienced how much effort it takes to create something original – that pleasantly surprises, or provokes thought – together with other artists and writers.

By the time I die I will have lived not one but a thousand lives!