Osamente Kurzwarer

Up the stone path

Under the archway

The children walked together

To the house of Osamente Kurzwarer

 

The House was tall

And Osamente as tall as the house

He was an imposing man

And always wore a frightening expression

 

He was shunned by many

But the children knew a secret

Osamente was a lover

Of candy and all things sweet

 

Osamente was, after all, a child at heart

And he shared his candy

With everyone who dared

To be befriend him

 

The sun was bright

And beautiful was the weather

As the children walked together

To Osamente Kurzwarer

Silence

Your silence is an impenetrable wall
Sometimes I wish I could seep through the cracks

Secrets

There were things no one knew about him. That is why the FBI took him away.
A black van quietly pulled over in front of his house as he left for work. The door opened and a gun beckoned. He climbed inside. They blindfolded him. There was no talking, everything was done in silence.

They put him in a room. Locked it. Then unlocked it and put one of their men inside. Then locked it again. The man asked him questions.

What is it you’re not telling us?

I’ve told you everything, he would reply.

This continued. Eventually the questions became more penetrating. Each reluctant answer revealed a small piece of information. He admitted to being sensitive about his coffee-stained teeth. The FBI man scribbled it down in his little writing pad. Then he would sit down on the table provided in the room and type his notes into his laptop. Then he would ask more questions. Apart from the questions, there were lectures and warnings and assurances.

We need to know everything about everyone, the FBI man would tell him. What may be trivial minutiae by your standards could be a crucial piece of evidence for us. In the fight against evil, nothing should be left to chance. And we mean it. We cannot have people going around the streets without their profile readily available to us. The power of evil grows everyday, and the most important weapon against it is information. You’re not evil, we know, of course you aren’t. Well, you think you aren’t. But to us you’re a black spot. We need to color you. You need to look nice to us. Nice and colorful. If you’re black spot on our map, you’re suspicious. You don’t want to look suspicious, do you? Trust us, this is all for a good cause. This information is extremely private. We do not share it with anyone unless there is good reason to. And we wouldn’t even ask for anything from you if it weren’t for a good reason. This is strictly for the purpose of fighting evil. If you will not cooperate we will have to resort to more, well, severe methods.

He didn’t talk, so severe methods it was.

After 10 days he was released. Dropped in the middle of nowhere.

Where had he been this whole time? His family, friends, and neighbors asked. He didn’t say. He didn’t remember.

The FBI man filled in the last remaining cell on his spreadsheet, under the preferred toothpaste column. Crest Extra-Whitening.

The Hole In the Ground

I am a hole in the ground. I feel empty. Ants and rabbits and foxes and even people would fall into me. They just fall through. They go somewhere. I don’t know where I lead to. Maybe they die, maybe they find a way to escape, I don’t know. I feel bad for causing their misfortune, but that is just what I am. I can’t help it. I’m a hole. They should watch their step.
Every time I see an animal or a person walk by, a part of me wishes they would walk over me and fall inside. They would fall through and I would never see them again. But for that fleeting moment, I have some interaction with them. I don’t know what they feel as they fall through me. Surprise? Shock? Anger? Hatred (for me)? I only feel love for them.

One morning I hear loud beeping and mechanical grunting. I hope that whatever it is watches its step. I also wish that it falls inside. But then I see the large robotic arm swaying in the air and it dumps all of this dirt into me. It feels me up with dirt. I am no longer a hole. Nothing will ever fall through me again.

Guilt

I drove to the food store with a heavy heart. My cold, lead heart was with me wherever I went, whatever I did. I parked the BMW and stepped into the parking lot. Just outside the entrance sat a homeless man on the pavement. He was young, about my younger brother’s age. I looked away and kept my distance from him, because I didn’t want to be reminded of my brother, of my family. But I couldn’t help but glance at him again, and that’s when he smiled. Not at me, someone else. But it was the smile itself that captivated me. I stood still and watched him smile. It was an incredible smile. One of complete bliss. Almost as if there was nothing painful in his life. And in that moment, I wanted nothing more than that smile.

The Monster

There was a riot. And the Lord knew that riots are never a good sign. The peasants had grown unhappy enough that they actually decided to do something about it. How did it happen? It’s my fault, the Lord thought. In a way, it was. When the Lord had raided the town and usurped all power, he had given the peasants more freedom and more land. Inside the village’s secure, walled borders, the peasants had begun to enjoy a new, more fulfilling life. All of that began to change when the knights in the surrounding villages became belligerent. The Lord’s position as the Lord of the village became precarious. To defend himself he took away some of the peasants’ freedom, and some of their land. And took some of the young men as soldiers for his use. All of this angered the peasants. They voiced their concerns, and the Lord promised them the changes were only temporary. It would all end and it was for the greater good. Keeping him in power was for their own good. The Lord may very well have spoken the truth, because under his rule the peasants lived a good life, better than they ever had and better than those of the peasants in villages around them. And even after the Lord had forced some changes, their lives were still not nearly as bad as they used to be. But the Lord, by giving them more, had raised their expectations. The old standards no longer applied. And the Lord’s promises and excuses didn’t work for long. The peasants picked up their pitch forks and torches and showed up at the Lord’s manor, demanding his head on a platter. The Lord pacified them that night. But it wasn’t a good sign. Riots never are, as the Lord knew.

Now his position was unsafe, not just from outside forces, but from inside as well. His soldiers were unwilling to fight for him. And worse, they were threatening him with his very own weapons. Something had to be done. The Lord finally sought his vizier’s advice on the matter. It wasn’t something he liked doing, since the vizier’s suggestions would often include decapitation and mutilation of the peasants. In fact that seemed to be his solution to most problems. His techniques may very well have been effective, but the Lord wasn’t nearly evil enough to implement them. But now, he was desperate, and was willing to do whatever it took to preserve his position in power.

So what do you recommend, he asked the vizier, cut off their heads?
No, no, no, that wouldn’t do you any good, my Lord.
Really? Then what do you suggest?
No, my Lord, this requires something far more drastic.

OK this is it for now I will add more to this later

The Red Glow

It all started the night before when she noticed the red glow in the tree. She stood in the darkness of her room staring out the window . Waiting for it to move, to act. To her, it was a sentient being. But it stood still, even as the branches and leaves around it swayed with the wind. Fall reluctantly decided to move. She was afraid the red glow might move and she would miss it. Or that it might disappear and never return. But she had to wake up her family and show them what she saw. She thumped across the house, yelling “wake up! wake up!” with every step. Soon all the lights in the house were lit, but the family stood outside at the door.
Everyone gazed at the red  glow. No one spoke. In part because the fear and excitement had blocked their throats and froze their lips. But also because they didn’t know what to make of what they saw. They all expected it to move. They wanted it to move. They were to afraid to approach it, and it would have been a relief had the red glow just hovered away out of sight. Fall wanted to take a closer look, but her parents had given her strict orders to stay put. And her mother held her firmly by the arm for good measure. Her three younger siblings stood clutching the parents’ legs.
Fall saw the red glow as something truly unknown, something new that was just being discovered. Every new thought about it sent shivers down her spine. She blinked tears out of her eyes. She felt like crying, but not because she was sad or hurt. It was some other emotion entirely. Some unknown feeling that she was just discovering. Maybe, she thought, it was awe, but something more.
The parents had shared Fall’s feelings for a moment, but their minds, instead of wandering in the mysterious, rushed to the mundane. They decided it was probably a prank. A red light bulb left there to scare us. They were now angry. At the prankster and at themselves, for falling for it. For not being smart enough to know better. “Come on, let’s go inside,” they said and led the children inside.
“But it’s too bright to be a light bulb isn’t it?” protested Fall. But she was ignored.
She felt disappointed. What if it is just a light bulb? But she wouldn’t give up. As soon as her mother had left the room and her eyes had adjusted to the darkness, she pulled away her blanket and rushed to the window. The red glow was still there, standing still as ever.

The next thing Fall knew, her room was bathed in sunlight. Out the window the red glow was gone. She rushed to the tree and nothing was there. No red glow. No red light bulb either.

 

Sand’s Escape

Sand knew there was no way out. The policemen had screeched to a stop outside while he was in the shower. By the time they walked inside, he had pulled up his pants over one leg. They stood at the door with pistols in their outstretched arms, and their legs wide apart and knees slightly bent. He stood in the corner of his room in front of the dresser, the underwear drawer and his mouth were open. This was it. He was cornered. But then he noticed the window right next to him. It felt surprised, as if he had never seen the window ever before in his life. As if he never knew that the window existed. The window was open. Now he knew what he had to do. He needed to wait. The policemen stood motionless and soundless still. He watched them carefully. Every neuron in his brain directed towards their mouths. And then it opened. The one on the left opened his mouth. It opened as wide as the window. Sand took his chance. As the policemen’s words left his mouth and made their way across the room, his arms flew towards the underwear drawer, his arms grabbing everything they could, and flinging the underwear towards the policemen. By the time he heard “hands up!” his legs were off the ground, heading towards the white opening of the window, into the bright sunlight outside. His torso, his arms, his head, and left over underwear followed. He heard shots but felt nothing, and then, as he landed with a thud on his back, steps across the room, and the word “stop!” Too late to stop. He rose to his feet instantly and ran to his left. He picked left because from what he had heard while in the shower, the cars would be closer if he ran to his left. He was impressed that he was able to think that through. He ran, but not a straight line. He ran in a zig zag, having read somewhere online that it was the best way to avoid getting shot. It didn’t work. He heard more shots, and felt nothing. But suddenly his left leg collapsed. Failing completely to function as a leg. There was no pain, but he was back on his back, unable to move. The policemen were now squeezing themselves through the window. Now it was over.

Drenthe

Everyone in the Drenthe elementary school had failed to notice the clouds gathering in the distance. No one noticed the wind picking up pace. It was the collapse of the old apple tree next to the playground that got a few peoples' attention. One of them was Howard Wright, the janitor. Wright was outside with the principal and a few staff members, his clothes flapping in the wind, expressing his surprise at the sudden collapse of the tree, when he spotted several police cars in the distance. Instead of wailing by the crowd, the black and white cars came to a stop in front of the school.  
We are looking for Howard Wright the cop said, and they put him in cuffs and took him away. As he was escorted to one of the black and white cars, Wright looked back at the tree and noticed the birds circling above it. He wondered if they had lived in it. Something they thought was so reliable had suddenly failed them. 
The school children left the building too. They went home. 
 No one was told anything about what was going on, except the principal himself. He was told that there had been a call about a bomb planted in the school. The call could not be traced, but the caller gave them a name - Howard Wright. The caller said Wright would know exactly where the bomb was. So the police took him into custody.
First it was a barrage of questions. Where? Where is the bomb? Why? Why is he doing this? Who? Who was the caller? Wright simply said he didn't know, he wasn't the culprit. But the police wouldn't have any of it. They were sure they hadn't made a mistake. 
No one was told anything but the story leaked out. It found its way to the local news channels and Howard Wright, within hours, became a household name, a villain. Howard Wrong! shouted the televisions. 
This new image of Howard Wright the villain fueled the police's belief that they had the right man. So the questioning continued. But Wright kept denying everything. 
So what do they do? They have no evidence. But surely they can't let this villain go free? But doesn't Howard Wright have rights? Yes, but wouldn't releasing him violate the rights of the children, wouldn't it enable him to kill more in the future? 
So they called up the governor and the deputy governor. Even the local congressmen chimed in with their opinion. After much discussion, they decided they could not release Wright just yet. He was a terrorist. A man who would have killed hundreds of innocent children had they not received that call. We need answers, they thought. Answers at any cost. Let's enhance our questioning techniques.
So they tortured Wright. Tortured him for hours into the night. Wright, now bloodied and in immense pain, still denied he had anything to do with the bomb.
A whole day after the call, the bomb still hadn’t gone off. The storm had come and gone, but the school stood. The children were given the day off. The birds were still there, circling the fallen tree, unaware of the danger. The news continued calling for Wright's head. 
But that night, there was a breakthrough. Wright finally confessed. He admitted to planting a bomb in the school, but fell unconscious right after the confession, not giving the cops the chance to ask him where the bomb was. 
The school building still stood, secure as ever. No one was willing to go near it. The bomb, supposedly, was somewhere inside, itching to explode. After much discussion and debate, the authorities decided the best thing to do was to wait. In the meantime we can throw Howard Wrong in prison, they thought. And they did. Howard was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. 
The school stood there for several days. Until they hired some brave men to go in and search for the probably defunct bomb. They found nothing. 
The fallen tree next to the playground was taken away. The children returned to school. Everything was normal. Everyone was happy.

Aisha

Black and blue. The marks on her arm are a sharp contrast to her pale skin. No one notices them until Miss Khadija makes her take off her pink long sleeved sweater because Rehan had spilled red cranberry juce all over her during recess. Rehan is the large boy who already has facial hair. Mother says this is his third year in fifth grade. There are black and blue marks all over her arms. Where did they come from? I imagine Rehan pummelling her as all the boys gather around to watch, pulling her hair as they all cheer, then finally throwing a carton of juice at her which bursts, drenching her in red.
	Her name is Aisha. She has pretty brown eyes and long, shiny black hair. I don’t talk to her much, because she’s a girl (and I’m a boy, and boys stay away from girls), and because she is hardly ever seen at school. Today is the first day I have seen her  in more than a month. Mother says she thought her parents might’ve married her off, but she’s only eleven, so they still have a few more years. She says her father is probably making her stay home and he’s doing the right thing too because girls aren’t supposed to go to school,they’re supposed to stay at home. School only serves to corrupt them from the way of God.  I ask her why boys can’t stay at home. Because men have to earn money, and provide for their families. They are the protectors of women. Why can’t girls do that? Because that’s how it is, she says. You don’t change what is.
	That’s not what Miss Khadija tells us. She tells us that things always change, but they only change when people want things to change. And sometimes you have to fight to bring about change. Miss Khadija is the only married woman in town who also has a job. She is married and Khadija is her first name. Once she had a fight with our Islamic Studies teacher who taught us that it was okay for husbands to beat their wives. Mother says I shouldn’t listen to her, but I think sometimes she is right.
	You have to fight for change. Aisha is there to hear those words. Maybe she has been fighting, with those bruises on her arms, or maybe she isn’t. I don’t know. Mother says fighting is for men. Girls can’t fight. The best a girl can do is wait and hope that God blesses her with a husband who is kind and loving and caring, and who can do the fighting for her.  
	One day Aisha speaks to me. That is very unexpected. The girls and the boys usually don’t talk to each other. She says hi in a quiet voice, and asks me if I’ve seen her scarf that she wears when she prays. I didn’t expect her to ask me, but she has. I don’t know what to do. She’s a girl. Should I take her seriously? Should I just make fun of her bruises like the other boys? I simply say no. When all the kids line up for the afternoon prayer, the girls behind the boys, I notice that she isn’t there.
	When I get home Mother is at the kitchen table crying. I don’t ask her, but I know it has to do with Father. Father who is never home because he works all the time. I woner if there are bruises under her sleeves. She wipes her tears when I enter, and I hope she thinks I didn’t see her crying. She hugs me and says she’s grateful that she had a son.
	Aisha is at school again. Third day in a row. She is talking to her friend, who is probably her only friend because she is never around. All I do is walk up to her and ask her if her father beats her, and she runs away crying. Her friend gives me a disguted look and runs after her. I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. I had found her scarf and I wanted to give it back to her.
	Aisha isn’t at school today. Miss Khadija tells us she has some bad news for us. Aisha’s mom is dead. No one is surprised because everyone has already heard. They’ve also learned that it was a suicide. But Miss Khadija tells us anyway and tells us not to believe any rumors. After this, I’m worried about Mother.  But I hope that everything will be fine.
	Aisha has been missing for a week, and today we learn that she is never coming back. The mail carrier saw a lock on the door ,and the house was empty. That was three days ago. What people know is that she is gone, but no one knows what happened to her. Some say that her father got her married and moved away himself. They agree she was too young to be married, but it was the right thing to do. Then there are people who say that what really happened is that Aisha ran away and called the police on her abusive father. No one knows what happened, buy at least one of the rumors is usually true. I take out her scarf from my book bag. It was white, but now it’s dirty and dusty and brown.  I don’t know what to do with it. I decide it’s not needed anymore and I throw it away.

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