A Story Which Backfires
My friend said he had heard the first bang when he stepped outside to go to work. He was standing in the doorway when he had heard the second. It had struck him as strange, especially this early in the morning. Even so, he had walked to his usual bus stop.
He had stood waiting for the bus when he heard the third bang. It seemed closer this time and it had made him wonder. His bus was later than usual.
When the bus did finally arrive, he got in and sat down, nervously shifting in his seat. As the bus had departed a fourth bang, the loudest and closest yet, came from the exhaust pipe.
Onto the Train
Several people want to get off the train. There are also several people trying to get onto the train. I am one of the people entering. A man shouts at us to hurry up. Such insolence.
I make eye contact with one of my fellow travellers./
He rolls his eyes. I shake my head.
The train reaches its final destination. As I leave there are again several people trying to get onto the train. People in front of me take forever departing. Such inertia.
I lightly push one of my fellow travellers to go.
He shakes his head. I roll my eyes.
Drinking with Mary Maria
I heard her saying that she despises people who never change their mind.
She would never do that herself.
She beckons to the barman and orders the usual.
She once again states that she likes change.
She gets up from her regular spot in the corner and straightens her chequered uniform.
After a few drinks she always insists that we dance like we used to. To that one song we like.
The dance is a traditional dance. One and two, one and two, one and two. I try something different, but she can’t keep up.
As we sit down she asks if the barman can turn on the news. Because it is important to stay informed in these changing times.
— Pauw Vos
Sounds of the Night
A car halted next to my house. In the moments it took to park, the sounds from within jumped their way up along the houses, bouncing from wall to wall. An easy rhythm landed right in my room. Double bass, percussion, guitar, and a voice that was both male and female joined together into melody.
The man sitting in the car had just returned from visiting his lover. He was happy living just across town, and they saw each other biweekly. They drank wine and listened to old jazz recordings on a gramophone, a seventieth birthday gift. On his way home, the man liked to keep himself awake with more experimental stuff.
After the man had parked the car and got out, he whistled a few notes which pierced the cold air. In a calling response, sirens helped counter the silence that the music had left behind. They made their way across town, to a house where a needle was idly tracing the grooves of a long-finished record.
A Story about Plants
I was having dinner with my neighbour, who had come back from her vacation the other night. She stomped into my house as if she aimed to kill every strand of the carpet. She did not take off her shoes. During dinner, she glanced at my windowsill as if the orchids had personally offended her. Dessert, banoffee pie with home-made caramel, was left behind on the table as she excused herself – her travels had tired her.
After she left, I realised that I had promised to water the plants during her four-week absence.
Out of Town
Hannah Shae could go away. She could go away to see the sea. Hannah Shae will go away. She hopes to walk along the shore. She wants to hear the seagulls cry.
See the sea in waves asway. Hannah Shae waves back. She has gone away.
wave sea, wave
wave to Hannah Shae
— Robin van den Brule
These stories were written for the Creative Writing course at Utrecht University. The aim was to imitate the style of Lydia Davis, specifically these five stories.