40 minutes stories · Short Stories

Hor mok hoy – Martha Supajirawatananon (40 Minute story)

Note: This story was created in 40 minutes in one of our writing sessions. The story is based on the following writing prompt – Tell the story of the relationship between a chef and her signature dish. 

Hor mok hoy – Martha Supajirawatananon

Her heart sank when they announced her name for the award.

“And best all-time dish goes to…Suwanee “Sue” Supanburi for mussel hor mok hoy!”

Huge applause erupted all around with whoops from several of the scattered tables.  A shadow of a frown passed briefly over her face before erupting into surprise and delight as she felt the spotlight fall on her.  She stumbled up a bit too quickly and made her way to the stage.

“Kap kun ma ka, thank you so much!” she began.  “Thank you for this honour.  I am just so grateful.  I just never expected it to take off in this way.  I know one thing though, you’ve never forgotten it!  Thank you, thank you!”

She muddled her way back to her seat, award in tow, her friend next to her giving her a congratulatory nudge.  She continued to watch the rest of the show but with a furrow in her brow that progressively furrowed more and more deeply, despite her best efforts.

At the after party, Ben Smith, one of the judges, congratulated her.  “Sawadee kap,” he greeted her in his broad English accent.  “There really was no contest.  It was unanimous.  We can’t wait to sample more Thai delights in the new season.”  Suwanee smiled a smile that imperceptibly did not quite reach her eyes.  

Just then her agent, Sally Maxwell, blustered in, all red lips and big beads.  “About bloody time Ben!” she boomed.  “Finally, not only a woman, but a woman of colour!”

Ben’s face took on a pinkish hue.  “Yes, ahem,” he cleared his throat, “Well, it really is a splendid dish.”  He adjusted his collar and politely took his leave, muttering something about the arrival of a new plate of amuse bouche.

“Well,” said Sally, grasping Suwanee firmly by the shoulders and kissing her first on one cheek, then the other, “Isn’t this just wonderful?!”  She took out a rather large chintzy handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes.  Suwanee took a large gulp of her cocktail and nodded.

Sally gathered herself once again and said, “Well, that confirms it then.  They love your Thai.  So let’s have no more of this crazy French talk, okay darling?”

Suwanee disposed of her cocktail glass on a passing waiter’s tray.  “Sally, I’m lost for words,” she said sincerely.  “I’m going home.  Need to process.”

The taxi driver’s chatter was quite unwelcome.  Suwanee took a breath and feigned interest.

“What you got there?” he asked, his dark eyes falling on her trophy.

“Oh, it’s an award,” she said, accidentally nonchalantly.  “They love my home cooking.”  She gave a half giggle, half sob and an apologetic shrug of the shoulders.

“I got an award once,” the driver said, “for piloting.”

“Oh,” said Suwanee, puzzled.  “So how did you become a driver?”

“Well, people thought I drove better, so here I am…”

“Yes, here I am…” echoed Suwanee, heart breaking as she thought of next season’s Thai menu.

 

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40 minutes stories · Short Stories

All Good Things – Luke Ryan (40 minute story)

Note: This story was created in 40 minutes in one of our writing sessions. The story is based on the following writing prompt – Tell the story of the men represented as statues in this photo: breadline

All Good Things by Luke Ryan

My grandchildren were staring at the photograph. Their first question wasn’t asking who the men in the picture were but why the picture was black and white. They were most amused to find out that photos weren’t always colour and lo and behold not always digital. They were equally amused when I told them that televisions used to be black and white and one had to get up and manually change the channel on the television before the advent of remote controls.

They had settled down after a sumptuous Sunday dinner prepared by my wife who despite now being into her eighty-first year, still navigated the kitchen like a prima ballerina, concocting the most glorious of recipes which were positively sinful for the family’s waistlines but nobody minded!

My wife was slowly nodding off after her morning efforts in the kitchen, helped by the crackling fire burning in the living room. The children’s parents had taken the opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done and I got to spend a few wonderful hours with two of my favourite people in the world, Michael aged nine and Elizabeth aged seven, though they were always known as Mikey and Betty in this household.

Once the novelty of the photograph being in black and white had worn off, their attention turned to the five gentlemen in the picture and who they were. And that has always been one of my favourite stories to tell. The picture itself was taken in 1959 by my mother when the most recent statue was added to the line, that being the statue at the back, my father Thomas Senior, I being Thomas Junior, though commonly called Tom in the family.

My father had died a few months before the photo was taken and befitting a man who had the position that he had, his statue was added to the line. He died quite young, in his early sixties though he looked older but years of working in coal-powered factories put many extra years on a man’s face.

The door in the photo, I told them, was one of the few doors on the main street of our small town without a name above it yet it was one of the most well-known doors in the town. It was the working men’s club and it had been open since the industrial revolution, providing a social outlet for the men of the town. Of course we have always had a great community spirit and women had long been allowed in the club, with the exception of the public bar which was strictly men only, though by the time I took over from my father, there were only a handful of the fossils which still solely frequented the public bar.

There were a couple of other bars in the town when I was younger, often favoured by the younger folk and the small number of more upwardly mobile, affluent people who chose to live in our quieter town and commute to the city every day. But the working men’s club was always where the life of the town was on any given evening.

The man, second left in the photo, was my grandfather, your great-grandfather, I told them. He was also Thomas and was the second Thomas Senior, my father being the third Thomas Senior when he was promoted upon my birth. My grandfather Thomas Senior died in 1938, not long before I was born. In fact my mother was pregnant with me at the time of his death. You know what pregnant means you two? They both nodded.

The man in the middle was the original Thomas Senior, the first of a line of Thomases in our family. Therefore he was my great-grandfather. Your grandmother and I, we had two daughters so unfortunately that’s where the line of Thomases ended I’m afraid. You wouldn’t want a mother called Thomas would you and they both chuckled.

The original Thomas Senior died sometime we think in 1916. He fought in World War 1 and his body was never found. When they made the statue, they had to get descriptions of him from his family. That’s why he appears taller than the rest of them. From what I’ve heard, he wasn’t particularly tall but he had a loud, booming voice that would easily fill a room, probably fill the town from what some people say. Everybody said the voice made him about five inches taller. Maybe that’s why the sculptor did it, or maybe after he had been away, fighting in the war for almost eighteen months, people couldn’t quite remember what he looked like. There were very few photos back then, far more important things to spend money on at that time.

The man on the second right is my great-great grandfather, William, I’m not sure when he died but I think it was in the late nineteenth century. It’s hard to try and remember all the dates. I’ve got it written down somewhere but it doesn’t matter for now. And finally the man on the right was my great-great uncle, Edward. He was William’s older brother and the founder of the working men’s club. He had no children so it was decided that William would take over when Edward died.

The children were still curious why these five men were lined up in the picture. Those five men have all been the president of the working men’s club at some stage I told them, one after another from the start of the line to the end of the line. No matter what was happening in the town, in the country, in the world, you always knew that whoever was the president would make sure it opened its doors every evening at five and always make sure there was some beer and maybe a nip of something a bit stronger for the men and women who worked hard to keep this town going, raise their kids, put food on the table come rain or shine.

These were working men themselves but it was with great pride that they ran the club day after day, year after year. Even if it was something as simple as making sure there was a pack of cards or a set of dominoes available, they kept the place ticking over. And when they died, their contribution was acknowledged with a statue.

Of course the club closed down many years ago now. The mines closed, the factories closed and the town, well it felt as if it closed too. Of course it has picked up in recent years but people want coffee shops and internet cafes now, fancy wine bars and the like. Things change I guess and they have certainly changed a lot in my life time.

It’s shame now, those statues used to be cleaned and polished every week, now people use them to stick their chewing gum on or worse things which young ears don’t need to hear.

I was the last president of the working men’s club, I took over after my father died although I was still a young man back then, it had just always been part of my family. And it was with great regret that I had to close it some time ago. By then we couldn’t afford the rent to the council.

It’s a shame, as a boy I always looked upon the four men standing there with such pride as my father told me about them. I used to imagine that one day I would have my statue there and when my father’s statue was added in ’59, it gave me great comfort in my time of grieving that one day I would be standing behind him, upholding the tradition not just of our family, but of the town.

But I guess when I go, there won’t be many left around who will remember what those men stood for. So I’m telling you two in the hope that wherever you end up in life, that maybe one day you will bring your kids back to the town and you can tell them a little bit of your family history. But as the fire crackled away, Mikey and Betty had drifted off during the story and I decided that I too could do with a nap.

40 minutes stories · Short Stories

Pleased to Meet You – Luke Ryan (40 minute story)

Note: This story was created in 40 minutes in one of our writing sessions. The story is based on the following writing prompt: You are a homeless man that can hear other people’s thoughts. 

Pleased to Meet You by Luke Ryan

All I wanted was some heat, some warmth. Three degrees outside and I’m wearing a coat which I found in a clothes bin more than three years ago. I think my trousers are older. Still damp from the morning rain. Fucking rain beating in at an angle. Hard to find a doorway to protect against that. Should have gone around the other side of the block when I woke up but I was already wet. All I want is some warmth. One fucking seat on the tram, keep myself to myself, just want to get warm and dry.

Nobody else can keep themselves to themselves. I can hear what they say. Nobody believes me but I can. Gypsy blood is what barely courses through my veins. Gypsy blood and the knowledge that every person that has passed me today has wished me dead.

They are fucking horrified when somebody dies unnecessarily of course. The man in the local shop, stabbed in the chest during a robbery gone badly. It’s horrific. The family man driving home after a long day work, another vehicle ploughs into his, victim of a drunken driver half asleep at the wheel. Horrific. The climber, whose rope broke, falls to their death in the quarry. Horrific. They are horrified at the senseless nature of these killings and accidents. They wouldn’t wish anyone dead. Except me. Literally everyone today has wished me dead.

It’s always worse when it’s cold and wet. My clothes smell but the newer recycling bins where people can leave unwanted clothing are now better designed to prevent the likes of me getting it open to get some new clothing. Designed to keep out the people who would most benefit from getting something that the normal people no longer deem good enough or trendy enough for them to wear.

I have heard seven people thinking that it would be better for me to be dead this morning. One man actually whispered it to his wife. He didn’t need to because she had already been thinking it. Somebody thought that the transport company should have people going around to force any homeless people off public transport. It should be kept for respectable people she thought before thinking it would be better if I was dead.

It’s not so bad in the summer. I don’t get wished dead so often in the summer. I guess all the normal people are happier, with their nice new summer clothes billowing in the gentle summer breeze and they flutter about the city like wisps of fresh cotton candy, luxuriating in their pristine existence. Until they see me. The most common thought at those times is that the police should round up the homeless, take them to the poorer parts of the city, or get them away from the parks or the river front. Out of sight, out of mind. But at least not dead. Not in the summer.

Autumn and spring are much of a muchness. Generally I hear them thinking about the smell. And then a mix of the homeless should be isolated in some different part of time or the homeless should be killed. It often depends on the weather. The colder and rainier it is, the more likely it is I am wished dead rather than just relocated.

A lot of younger men, when out with friends and drunk at night, think it would be hilarious to urinate on me as I huddle into a doorway. Occasionally they actually say it to their friends. Fortunately the friends tell the guy to cop on and I feel relieved. One time a guy actually pissed on me. It woke me up. He was very drunk by the looks of it. The way he was slouching against the side of the doorway and his poor aim. I growled at him. He said sorry and immediately went away. He actually thought to himself that it was a bad thing to do. He actually felt bad about it and that he hadn’t seen me. Strangely, it felt quite nice that he had thought that as I wiped his urine from my face with my sleeve.

A lot of people think I must be on drugs, or a former addict, or an alcoholic. I’m not or never was addicted to any substance. I have never taken illegal drugs. Anyone who wants to pass comment of the state of drug and alcohol abuse need only gaze into the windows of the bars and clubs in the centre of any big city. I’m not saying there aren’t some homeless people who have been or still are addicts. But you’re just as likely to find somebody desperately scrounging together enough money for the cheapest bottle of liquor possible as you are likely to find somebody dressed to impress with a credit card to match it. A credit card to buy the fancy cocktails and chop up the marching powder.

I went from home owner to homeless because I made a mistake. I married the wrong woman and got talked into taking out a mortgage that we couldn’t manage and working in a job I hated to finance a lifestyle that she wanted while she was fucking somebody I didn’t know and when I lost my job, we lost the house. She took whatever meagre savings we had and fucked off with the kids. We couldn’t even afford a divorce. I still have my wedding ring in my pocket as a reminder. I could sell it but what would that get me, a couple of weeks in a hostel and some proper food. I would feel like I’m flying to close to the Sun. Once you get bogged down by this life, you get used to it. Doesn’t seem so bad.

Occasionally people look at me when I’m rooting through a bin and I hear thoughts such as, ‘poor bastard,’ or ‘Jesus he must be hungry.’ It’s quite rare to hear sympathetic comments, and even in such comments, I’m often referred to as a bastard.

One of the upshots of being able to hear other people’s thoughts is when you see fresh blood on the homeless scene. The new guys who are desperately on the prowl for food, clothing and somewhere warm to kip at night. They see me with my three year old coat, my filthy blanket and four or five sheets of cardboard and I hear them thinking, ‘that guy, he’s got it made.’ Sometimes I hear the drunkards and drug users among the homeless, as they make fleeting returns to consciousness look at me and think who the fuck does he think he is with his half eaten fucking burger and his sleeping bag.

One of those bastards stole the sleeping bag a few months ago. Poor bastard fell asleep inside it with a cigarette lit in his mouth. His head was half inside the sleeping bag and the thing burnt in minutes. The guy had melted sleeping bag burnt onto his skin as well as horrific first degree burns. He died a couple of days later. The fucking sleeping bag was ruined and they are like gold dust.

Do I regret things in my life? For sure but It could be worse. I know what you think and even if you’re not close enough for me to hear, I can have a pretty good guess at what you’re thinking. I know you can’t control it all the time. Society has made us that way. But next time you’re passing don’t be afraid to give me a little nod and maybe surprise me!

40 minutes stories · Short Stories

Silenced – Luke Ryan (40 minute story)

Note: This story was created in 40 minutes in one of our writing sessions. The story is based on the following writing prompt: “I was sitting in the school canteen when an old friend who I thought was dead walked in carrying a bible.” 

Silenced by Luke Ryan

It was after midnight and I was sitting in the old school canteen. The room had seen better days. If you looked closely, you could still see slight flecks of blood on the grouting between the wall tiles from the shooting last year. Mandy sat across from me, the glow of her cigarette providing and the moon providing the only light in the room. She always had a cigarette in her mouth. She still looked gaunt and unkempt but at least she was clean again.

She had hardly said a word since I arrived more than an hour ago and I had given up trying to talk to her. Her note had told me to be here at midnight tonight. So I came. I had known Mandy since we attended this very school and although we had barely spoken in years, I would trust her with my life. Not the most sparkling conversationalist, but trustworthy without doubt.

She wouldn’t be drawn on the reason she called me here this evening so I sat and waited for whatever was meant to happen. As I stared around the canteen, I remembered the images from the television, the whole building sealed off with police tape. Stretchers being carried out. Two dead children to a stretcher. Onlookers in tears, parents screaming to be let through the police cordon.

And then the adults, one to a stretcher. The hawkers behind the police cordon desperately trying to get a glimpse of which teachers had been killed. And of the murderer. My friend Mo. I had known him longer than I had known Mandy. I was at his tenth birthday party. I was at his twentieth birthday party. I should have been at his thirtieth birthday party but the dumb bastard went and shot up the fucking school. And then he shot himself in the face.

Four teachers dead, seventeen children dead and Mo, dead. The lives of many of the town’s families destroyed in fifteen minutes during lunchbreak. They still put flowers outside the doors of the canteen building every Saturday and Sunday. They used to put them every day but the school had to stop them. The kids didn’t like it. Trying to eat your dinner while watching poor little Timmy’s parents lay flowers in his memory when you had seen three bullets rip through his chest killing him instantly. The kids didn’t like it.

Mandy finished her cigarette, stamped it out on the floor and promptly lit another. Still, the smell of the smoke was better than the permanent smell of grease which had seeped into the pores of the room. If I ever had to eat another meal in this room, it would be too soon.

I asked Mandy would it be much longer. I had to be up at six in the morning for work and hanging around the school canteen after midnight wasn’t my idea of how to spend my night. She just shrugged and went on smoking.

A short while later I heard a sound. It was from the corridor that led between the canteen and the main school building. I could hear footsteps now and there was a faint shadow cast by the moon’s light. A figure stopped when it reached the doorway but I couldn’t see who it was.

‘Hello John,’ said the figure, and I nearly fell of my chair in shock.

I still couldn’t see the figure clearly but I would never mistake the voice. Mo. I just stared at the doorway. My brain couldn’t even think. I don’t even think I was shocked because shock didn’t come close to the feeling of seeing my former best friend standing in the doorway to the room where he had murdered 21 people a year ago.

Mandy stood up and went to Mo and hugged him. I stayed rooted to my seat. Mo approached and as he got closer, he opened his arms as if to hug me.

‘Remember me?’ he asked.

‘Sure,’ I replied, still sitting. He lowered his arms, the hug not coming. I noticed and book in his hand. It was a bible.

‘What are you doing here?’ I asked. It’s hard to know how to speak to a murderer you believed was already dead.

‘I’ve come back to take care of some unfinished business.’

‘But you were fucking dead.’ I said. I was finding it hard to keep calm so I stood up and went to the window.

‘Doesn’t look like it,’ said Mo, ‘wouldn’t be talking to you now if was would I?’

‘Mo didn’t kill anyone,’ said Mandy. I looked around.

‘What do you mean? Of course he did, everyone said it. They even had a funeral for him and then buried his body anonymously to stop the locals desecrating his grave.’

This was the most ridiculous thing I had heard.

‘Let him explain, John,’ said Mandy. ‘We talked earlier. He told me it wasn’t him.’

‘But they found his body, he’d blasted half his head off.’ I replied. ‘How can it not be him?’

‘Who saw the body? Who saw my dead body?’ asked Mo.

‘The cops, the teachers the poor screaming students that you hadn’t managed to kill yet. The mortician, the undertaker, the coroner. They must have seen your body.’

‘They saw a body, can’t have been mine though. Mine is right here talking to you.’

‘So why did everybody think it was you?’ I asked.

‘Because I wanted them to. I was the shooter. I shot up the canteen, I killed all those little kiddies and those dumb fuck teachers but my body never went out in the body bag. I went down into the store cellar from the kitchen.’

‘That’s where you shot yourself.’ I said.

‘That’s where I hid. And that is where the cops found some bum homeless dude with most of his face blown off. And he was carried out. Everyone in the canteen who hadn’t died identified me and you know what a dumb fuck town this is. They saw me run down to the cellar and they heard a gunshot. That was all. And all it took was some money in the right pocket of the coroner, who by the way is balls deep in debt because of his raging gambling problem and it’s officially signed off as me in the body bag.’

‘And why the hell would you do this?’ I shouted.

‘Gun control,’ he replied.

‘Gun control? You shot up a school because of fucking gun control? Are you insane?’

‘Too many whackos with guns going round and the Republicans are only too happy to let them. Senator Morton was getting fucked in the polls and was in danger of not getting re-elected. He needed something to bring to the people. He wanted to stand on his democratic soapbox and attack the gun lobby after the shooting. The shooting here last year galvanised his campaign.’

I just stared at Mo is disbelief. I couldn’t fathom what he was saying. Even Mandy was speechless, her latest cigarette almost burnt to the butt, half hanging from her fingers. Mo continued.

‘I used to work for Morton remember? I still do. Albeit a lot more quietly know. Wouldn’t have had a job much longer if he didn’t get re-elected. We staged the shooting to give him a platform to fight the Republicans and virtually ensure his re-election. It worked’

I stood there dumbfounded. Mo continued.

‘Mandy saw me earlier today. Purely by chance. She was in the city this morning and maybe I was getting sloppy lately. I had a decent disguise but she knew it was me. I told her I didn’t do the shooting. I promised I would come here tonight and explain.’

‘And why have you got a bible.’ I asked.

He pulled a revolver from his pocket.

‘Because I couldn’t find a cushion’

He put the barrel of the gun against the bible, using it as a silencer, and fired two shots. One into Mandy’s head, one into my heart. I saw him walking out of the canteen in the moonlight as I bled to death.

‘No one can ever know,’ was the last thing I heard.

40 minutes stories · Short Stories

A Political activist, a Journalist and a Giant walk into a bar… – Camilla Bonetti (40 minute story)

Note: This story was created in 40 minutes in one of our writing sessions. The story is based on the following writing prompts: The words ‘Political activist,’ ‘Journalist,’ ‘Giant’ followed by ‘walk into a bar.’

A Political activist, a Journalist and a Giant walk into a bar… – Camilla Bonetti

A political activist, a journalist and a giant walk into a bar.

Well, the journalist and the political activist actually got into the bar, while the giant has to fight to pull his body inside the door. He ends up using the big veranda window, pulling his head inside long enough to has his chin on the table. It’s foggy on the harbour town, the political activist has chosen this specific day after checking on the weather forecast: on a grey and cold Monday morning everyone is too pissed off to mind a giant walking along the main road. Even the waitress doesn’t seem to mind the unusual presence, too busy complaining about the sadness embracing her life.

“So, first of all, thank you for meeting me here today” says the giant, in a humble tone that doesn’t suit at all with the, well, gigantic body he’s carrying around.

“It’s a pleasure, my brother.” Tom, long term activist for the right of everything that move, breath or simply exist on Earth, is enthusiastic. After two years fighting for the rights of tulips to grow in rainbow lines and of jellyfish to sting the same person twice, he finally has a real battle, one that can take him straight to legend.

“Welcome, Sean”‘ mr. Wilson, the reporter of the local newspaper feels he’s at the highest point of his career, literally.

” You can call me Little Sean, everybody does” the giant pull up his thumb, reaching the dusty chandelier. Little Sean. Apart from the books he read as a kid, the journalist has never seen a giant before. His professional career of sensational news and scoop has been on a stop for almost a year, the boss has been very clear: he has to find THE news and bring it back by the end of the day.

“So, what is your fight about, what are you demanding the society to do for our friend, ehm, Little Sean, and his, well, friends?”

“I’m here as the leader of wherever you are and want to be, I’m here to manifest our willing to help giants grow a bigger place in our society.” Tom has a small paper hidden in his jeans pocket, he slowly pull it out to be sure he’s using the best words for the press.

“Can I have a cappuccino?” big Sean is thirsty, running down the seven mountains to reach the town has been exhausting.

“Anna, darling, would you bring our friend a cappuccino?”

“One?”

“Yes, make it six liters of milk and…”

“22 human coffees, if is not too much disturb. Thank you so much.” The waiter nodded, after all the drunks request she had to take care of during the weekend, this sounds fair enough.

“Little Sean, what do you mean by having a bigger place in our society?”mr. Wilson get straight to the point, time is money and he knows he’ll be the one paying the cheque at the end of the meeting; how much would the batthtub of cappuccino be?

“We don’t want to be part of your society, we want a society is worth be part of…” says the giant, keeping his eyes low.

“Inspiring. Amazing.” Tom has never been so excited in his whole life. He wish he had accepted his sister smartphone to record this historical moment.

“I’m not sure I understand” says mr. Wilson “What the fudge?” thinks mr. Wilson, but no one would dare use the f word with a giant.

“Im kidding, it’s a phrase I read on a human book long time ago. I thought you would like a homage to your culture.” Little Sean sip the cappuccino from the big jar, his smile is surrounded by white soft foam. “I got in contact with Tom because I saw all the books you are writing, all the movies you are making about my people: sometimes we are super bad, walking around and destroying your world, sometimes we are sweet and naive, collecting and delivering dreams.”

“And you have a fight you want to start for the giants, right?” ask Mr/. Wilson getting nervous.

“Of course he does” reply Tom, carrying the good name of giants on his shoulder.

“Naaaaa” Little Sean stretched the A moving the curtains with his breath. He smells like coffee, he’s a gigantic coffee dispenser. “I’m getting married next moon. It means I’ll be turning into a serious big boys. As I told you I see your movies, I read your book. I was so curious about some human things: I wanted to sit in a cafe, chatting and sipping a hot cappuccino. I just fullfil two of my three dreams, pursuing the last one would mean destroy the whole place so I’ll be happy to sit outside with my head stuck in the window.”

“That’s it?” Mr. Wilson is shocked, he can feel his blood pressure raising up.

“Yes.”

“But…but…you reached for me, saying you want to talk…” Tom tries his last card.

“Yes, that’s what we are doing”

“I thought you wanted to fight, to change the status, to…”

“Did I use any of those words? You humans are small but your ego can be soo big. Thank you for your time, you gave me something special. Here are some coins for my coffee” Little Sean gently pulls his head out of the window, stands up in the garden and scrolls his pocket, then he disappears in the fog leaving a big pile of coins in the garden.

“I cant believe it, no scoop.”

“No fight. What a failure!”

“are you two serious? that guy gave you the unique opportunity to meet a giant and to understand how precious we are in our own way to be.” Says the waitress,  carrying away the huge cup of coffee.

 

40 minutes stories · Short Stories

Out of Shape and Back to my Senses: A Sublime Journey – Maria Karamanoglou (40 minute story)

Note: This story was created in 40 minutes in one of our writing sessions. The story is based on the following writing prompts: The words ‘Hunter’ and ‘Hunted.’

Out of Shape and Back to my Senses: A Sublime Journey – Maria Karamanoglou

You know all these motivating stories in the magazines, with a picture of an obese person, and next to it the same person 30kg down? About how they were gained weight because they were miserable and then they decided to do something about it etc etc? Well, that’s my story. Only, the other way round.

I used to be a personal trainer, a health guru, a carb nazi, a lunatic if you ask me now. I would work out more than any of my clients, eat broccoli and chicken breast, do yoga, the whole package. My clients would come to our sessions all stressed that I would berate them. If we accidentally met at the movies, they would try and hide the popcorn behind their backs, and I would ruin their appetite whenever I saw them in the restaurant. I was the avenger of tasty food, the opposite of joy, the I-know-what-you-ate-last-summer kind of bully. They paid me, but they hated me. I was the Hunter that wanted to track down and kill every single gram of fat in this world. And then… nothing major happened.

Simply, as I was going to the gym one afternoon, the taste of caramel sauce on vanilla ice cream just like popped into my mouth – and instead of hopping on the dreadful treadmill, my legs decided that enough was enough and they walked me into a pastry shop. The baker had just finished putting on the shop window freshly baked butter croissants, two of which finished in my bag less than five minutes later. Next to them, eclairs. Chocolate mousse. Crème Brule. Handmade ice-cream. And that was the end of the world as I knew it. Now, five years later, I’m a pastry chef.

The place I walked in that day, I own it now. My gym bag is in the bottom of my closet, the gym never sees me, most of my Nikes I gave away to my old clients. I just kept my yoga pants that are comfy for home, and the occasional stroll next to the sea. Now, maybe you would think that I’m hunted, or haunted, by remorse? Fat? Calories? Ha! Not even close! My former clients hunt me now… not to get them back into shape, but to bake them my famous tarts, croissants, babas, and madeleines. And you know what? Never been happier in my life. People love me, desserts love me, comfy pants love me, I love me. Well… and if some health guru hates me, I can live with that. As long as there will be chocolate truffles in this world.

40 minutes stories · Short Stories

Understanding the other’s perspective: Jew and Nazi – Anna Marie (40 minute story)

 

Note: This story was created in 40 minutes in one of our writing sessions. The story is based on the following writing prompts: The words ‘Jew’ and ‘Nazi.’

Understanding the other’s perspective: Jew and Nazi – Anna Marie

My family was after a Shabbat meal when my father turned on the radio and the choppy voice of the news announcer read:

“Overseas in Nazi Germany, according to the new State propaganda, there is nothing more different than a Jew and Aryan German. But We as Americans must not let this affect our morale. We are all Americans, no matter our origins. We are Americans and we will not let hatred and ignorance outshine kindness and unity. We must not-” In that instant, my mother stood up and turned off the radio, much to my father’s dismay.

“Hannah, why did you turn it off?”

“This is nothing the children should listen to. They will have nightmares.”

“No, Hannah – it is good for them to know what the situation is like in Europe.”

My mother ignored his plea to turn on the radio again and instead, she told me and my brother Elijah to go to our room. The news announcer’s voice echoed in the hallway, but we shut our doors as to not let any more politics enter our world of games and friendship.

My brother and I were both born and raised in New York. Our parents left Germany soon after the end of the Great War, but they still spoke highly of their country, home to great writers, composers, painters and thinkers. Despite still being kids, we sensed their growing discomfort that there would yet be another war. A war that would essentially determine the survival of Jews in Germany. In the evening, instead of bed time stories, we heard them read aloud letters they received from our family and cousins about the increasing restrictions the Party imposed on them: curfew before 9pm, gradual banning of Shabbat services and producing and selling Kosher goods.

“What will they eat? Pork?” My mother sighed, shaking her head.

Under her insistence, our parents assured us every day that we are safe, that these views and changes are happening on the other side of the sea. But my friends at school were talking about it, everyone in their own way. Eventually circles began forming and I observed that our class was like a miniature version of Europe.

There were the Italian-Americans.

The Irish-Americans.

The German-Americans.

And me and Elijah, the only Jewish Americans.

While in the classroom we focused on reading, spelling and home economics, the instant the recess bell rang, everyone scattered into these groups, forming small alliances. Me and Elijah though, we didn’t want to take part in any fights – both verbal and physical – that took place during recess. But we were alone, talking to and playing with each other all the time and that got quite tiresome after a few months. So we agreed to try to befriend one of the groups and the German Americans were our first choice. We decided not tell anyone, especially mother, about it. Friendship with the Germans seemed all the more exciting, as we knew that it’s exactly what that loud German guy with a funny moustache and hyperactive arms doesn’t want!

The group of boys and girls whose blonde hair appeared golden in the autumn sunlight went silent when they noticed us, two dark-haired kids, standing at their table. I got a little scared, but Elijah nudged me and together we simultaneously said:

“Are these seats free?” The Germans looked at each other and after a while, they nodded.

When we arrived home later that afternoon, our mother was angry beyond words.

“Are you Nazis now?” our mother screamed. Elijah and I looked at each in confusion. “I got a phone call from Mrs. Hermann, that you were spending the whole day with the Germans! Don’t you know about what their parents do? About what they could do to you?”

Elijah was pale, but suddenly colour returned to his face as he said:

“No mother, we are not (articulating the word carefully) Nazis…”

Jewish kids! You shouldn’t talk to them. Haven’t you been following the news? The Ku-klux-klan are going for the dark folks and Nazis are after us. And there you are, hanging out with them!”

“No, mother, you got it all wrong!” Elijah spat, for he didn’t like to be nagged.

“Then what were you talking about for so long? The Reich? The amazing new laws they are creating to make our cousins afraid to even go to the synagogue for Shabbat mass? Unable to get kosher food?”

“No, mother, we-”

“Shush, Elijah, enough! I am disappointed in you. And you too, Rachel. You are supposed to stay safe. What on Earth were you talking about with them?”

As told, Elijah kept his mouth shut. Failing to understand that the question was rhetorical, I said:

“Germany, mother. We talked about Germany.”

“What?”

“We talked about Goethe and the ballads you won’t let us read.”

“Oh.” Mother winced.

“Their mothers read those stories as bed time stories. They recited Erlkönig to us, in German, and translated it for us when we didn’t understand. They were very kind and they promised to bring the ballads tomorrow to school, that they’ll read us some more during lunch.” My mother stood perplexed and after a while, she told us to go to our rooms.

Ever since, she never argued against us talking to the German kids again. They remained our friends before, throughout and after the Second Great War – proving that loud German guy with a funny moustache and hyperactive arms that he cannot tell us who to be and not be friends with.