When the heart freezes


The night gives way to the early morning at last. It is foggy and cloudy, but still better than the dark, cold night, you think, in which you tossed and turned from one side to the other, but you could not sleep and your thoughts constantly revolved. You stand at the window and look out, the coffee cup clasped with both hands, as if it has to hold you up. The raven on the opposite ridge looks at you cheeky, then flies up and away into the rainy sky. It's October and really too cold for the season. Anyway, you feel that it is, but you are always cold, not only from the outside but also from the inside. Your heart, your soul are freezing and no thick knitted socks and no thicker, fluffier bathrobe will help. Slowly you turn around and go to the decrepit coffee maker, that always makes noises as if it would give up the ghost at any moment. You long have become accustomed to these sounds. You still need more coffee to combat the fatigue from the bones. Only silence around you, except the old coffee maker. Silence within yourself and between you and others. The cozy kitchen was always full of life. As long as you can remember, your life has been played in this kitchen, and when visitors came, they always liked to sit in the kitchen. It was cozy and homey. And now this unbearable silence and this strange cold that seems to seep out of your interior. You sit with your cup of coffee at the kitchen table and stare at the empty seat opposite you. There your Wolfgang sat for forty-five years at every meal and in between. Sure, the chairs and the table were eventually replaced with new ones, but Wolfgang was always there. Not anymore. Then you stare at the coffee stain on the table. Since 3 months you look at this spot every day, you can not wipe it away, you just can not break away from this spot. Wolfgang had made so many plans since he retired. He wanted to renovate the house, install a new bathroom, and finally a long holiday trip to France in the Camargue, which you both had dreamed about. The dreams were no more, all of a sudden . Now you look at the empty chair, all crooked at the table, you did not move it, you made a b-line around it. You start to shiver from the cold, have the feeling that tiny ice crystals are around your heart. you are thinking about the morning when Wolfgang,as usual, was reading from the newspaper to you, then suddenly, he knocked the coffee cup over and collapsed dead in that chair. You wonder if you'll now be this cold for the rest of your life or if it would be better to get on the way. On the way to Wolfgang.

 

©Barbara Ohl

Translation by Rita A. Hess

Winner of the Short Story Competition Writer's Inn Award

published under her maiden name Barbara Landau

BoD Publishing ISBN 9783837036152