• The train car looked like the same one where we first met. As a matter of fact, it could be the one. The same red seats, the same look which was both modern and old-fashioned, the same signs in four languages.

    We […]

    • Hi Jens, I liked that they ended their story on the metro, it seemed quite fitting. Bringing them back to this place where they’ve been before also makes clear the growth that has happened in the characters.
      Since your plot is already concluded by the end of the previous scene, this scene almost have a bit of an epilogue-feel. However, if that was not your intention you can perhaps consider going in to less detail here about “what comes next” as it might distract a little from your main plot (which had concluded beautifully!).
      Although I have only followed about half of your story (probably less) I have really enjoyed your writing! For urban fantasy, this is delightfully original and I loved all the Paris sights and experiences! Your “moral” elements are moving but not too much as to become cheesy.
      Very well done, Jens, and congrats! 😉

    • Hi, Jens-
      Thought I’d drop in a second time, just in time for the very end. Looks like you’ve come full circle.
      The scene was very easy to read. It went really fast, but I thought the pace was fine. The tone was certainly different than the scene that I read earlier, but that’s to be expected. We’re post-climax, after all. A nice winding down with a promise of adventures to come.
      When I ride a subway, I usually look out the windows some. Might be nice to see some of that. And were there any other people in their car, or just the four?
      Congratulations of finishing all 52 scenes! Hope to see you in the rewrite.

  • The letter indicated a side entrance of the opera house. Alphonse and I had gotten an early start and after a hearty breakfast at a nearby Japanese bakery, we tried the door. It swung open and allowed us in. There […]

    • Hi Jens. I enjoyed this scene. I don’t have much to suggest other than that you can perhaps emphasise the momentousness of their career decisions – even though they both feel that it is the right decision, they can perhaps just ponder it over for a moment to think what a drastic change it would be, especially for Mike. But I liked the mood of this scene and the way Mike said farewell to his old life, and the way in which you pointed out that although it was absolutely the right decision, it still was a tough process. Good job.

  • We wandered through the tunnels but by now, the feeling of dread and anxiety was gone. We’ve gotten used to the tunnels of the catacombs and even without relying on the red book too much, we found the cavern we w […]

    • Hello Jens,

      Finally the kiss! This is a very sweet explanation and winding up of the plot. Are there still some loose ends for the next two scenes? Thank you for sharing, Carolyn

    • Hi Jens, this was a lovely scene and it concluded quite a few matters without feeling forced or unplanned. Not sure how much you plan/plot, but the overall coherency of your story is really excellent.
      I thought Baudelaire’s words “enjoyed greatly” felt a bit too safe and pleasant perhaps for something dangerous out of your comfort zone, but the thrill that you refer to in the next sentence feels more fitting.
      I am glad Alphonse and Mike could properly patch things up, as Alphonse has still been coming across a bit glum/distant since they’ve been reunited. 🙂

  • The red book made the space we were in a lot less scary and a lot more predictable, although the map on its first page looked like a painting by Escher. Confusing staircases leading up, down, sideways and bending […]

    • Hello Jens,
      The fight, with fear or the father or with being alone, was very well done. I felt the tension and the pace was fast and flowed. I did get a little confused about who was the first person – did it switch again from Alphonse back to Mike?
      I understand the difficulty that you had earlier on when Mike was out of the picture, so you continued the story with Alphonse. Consider staying with Alphonse for the ending.?
      Also, the love the personality of the book, very fun and funny!
      Thank you for sharing, Carolyn

    • Hi Jens. This was a very entertaining although very “deep” scene; I enjoyed it, well done!
      You can perhaps consider making a few things with the role-switching a bit clearer. For example, when they switched roles, did they switch belongings too? If so, it would make sense that the new Mike has the masked, but if Mike simply switched to Alphonse, shouldn’t the new Alphonse have the maks?
      Anyway, the way they had to face their fears was great, I especially liked this sentence: “After all, knowing that he was fear made him seem a lot less scary.”
      Since you already compared where they are to an Escher painting twice in the previous scene, you can perhaps leave out the “like an” here and just refer to it as “the Escher-like map” or something, else it becomes a bit repetitive as it seems the speaker is drawing the conclusion all over again.
      I loved the switching back to their true roles and the “reconciliation” between the two.

  • He was A and I was B

    Plain it was for all to see

    How difficult it was for me

    and him to live together.

    I wanted us to be a team

    to be conjoined along the seam

    to find a common living stream

    of storms we […]

    • Oh, so sad this bit of wisdom.I like the jaunty rhythm easing the heartbreak. Good on you.

    • Jens,
      Great writing! Sorry it didn’t work out, but you described it well.
      Best to you.
      Wanda Lovan

    • Great poem Jens. I enjoyed the rhythm and rhyme and though the message was sad it is a fact that sometimes things are not meant to work out, no matter how hard we try and changing ourselves into someone else is not the solution.

      I also liked the title for the last poem of the year.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Hello Jens,
      The rhythm is very constant and drives home the message of your poem. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • I ran along the metro tunnel. Every now and then a train passed and I had to press against the wall to get out of harm’s way. My pulse was pounding in my neck, but I knew that I had to move on. Then, suddenly, I s […]

    • Hi Jens

      I like the way you capture the tension with short sentences and observations. The use of Escher makes the experience all the more challenging. Although I felt a strong apprehension and fear as I read it, there was also a sense of control Alphonse had over the scene too. The ending brought balance and hope of what can come next.

    • Hi Jens. This was such a great use of the prompt and also serves as a fitting metaphor here. Loved it.
      Perhaps you intended to emphasise the hurriedness of the situation, but I thought you could perhaps make the moment he saw the Minotaur a little “bigger.” He had waited and searched a long time to see him in that form. I did, however like the casualness with which the Minotaur walked away – very effective! 🙂 I also liked the contradiction (perhaps not the right word) of how one could indeed get lost in a labyrinth.

  • It was late at night when Carl arrived back home. Thick snow was falling in the dark, blocking the path between his driveway and the door. He opened the trunk and inspected its content – too much to get into the […]

    • Oh! Dear!
      I had a feeling when the house was so empty and as the story progressed, I feared the ending;
      however, I was thinking they had split up.
      As you said in a recent post….even though you anticipate the ending….
      When it hits…it hits hard ( not your words exactly….).
      Carl’s deliberate, precise dividing of the candies and his wanting to be fair….
      all of this played into the emotions of the story.
      Well done, Jens. Well done.

    • Oh. My. Gosh. Wow Jens, this was so intense and so tragic. The “too good to be true” intro was a great set up, but I had no idea what would happen. Then, it turned creepy as he started speaking everyone’s voices. Finally, ending in tragedy. I enjoyed the pace and the surprises throughout. Thanks for sharing.

    • They died? So sad, I was honestly expecting a happy ending with lots of laughter. I feel so bad for Carl. Lovely story. Thanks for sharing.

  • This time the entrances to the métro near the Opera did not jump away. They stayed right where they are. I descended them without any trouble. And while I did that, I thought about the words of the statue. What […]

    • Hi Jens

      I really do like your style and once again am wishing I’d been following this from the beginning. So many interesting layers it seems to the theme of protagonist, antagonist – ‘heroes abound’. The pace is swift – something wish I could get right – the exposition when he was trying to sleep but remembering back, was effortless ( something I wish I could also get right LOL)
      I know I am making comments out of context because I don’t know the plot / character dynamics, but I am finding it all quite original and intriguing.
      And even though we’re so close to the end I’m looking forward to the next scene

    • Hello Jens,
      The main character switch from Mike to Alphonse took me a minute to figure out – but that was a very clever way to switch it up and let the reader into what Alphonse has been doing.
      The action and pace is continues to be very rapid as the end is near! And of course, the casual declaration of love, will bring them together in a few more scenes.
      Thank you for sharing, Carolyn

    • Hi Jens, as usual I really enjoyed all the scenery of your scene and all the referencing – I grinned when I read that the next opera is going to be The Magic Flute! 😀
      I have to admit, it took me a reread of a few paragraphs and a few minutes to wrap my head around the character swapping, but I’m guessing the nature and implications of this swap will become clearer as the story continues! It did make me think though, and I really love the metaphor of life being a play and us filling certain roles.
      Good scene.

  • The Jardin du Luxembourg was full of people when I arrived at the gate. I walked past the statue of the faun playing on his flute. Of course there was nothing magical about the artwork now. It didn’t actually p […]

    • HI Jens
      Have not read your work before but found your style intriguing. Contemporary and relaxed but with a fable like edge. Makes me regret not reading it earlier on from the start of the challenge so I can have the context to comment against. I found a few repetitions of words in succession that jumped out at me , and things like;
      ” like My eyes were closed and I didn’t dare to open them. “Monsieur!” I heard “This is an outrage!”

      My shoulders sank and I opened them again. ”
      which at first glance confused me about whether your protagonist was opening eyes or shoulders, but I know these are all things that happen in first drafts.
      I am very curious about the idea of the protagonist not wanting to be a protagonist anymore and enjoy how your writing makes your ‘magical’ realm and the real world as we know it blend effortlessly. Quite filmic this scene.
      Thank you

    • Hi Jens. All your scenes have been enjoyable, but I think this one is my favourite so far! It was beautiful, and the idea of the real world fading away so the statues can come alive has such a lovely magic to it.
      Long speaker turns rarely work, but here you’ve managed to make the Mask Merchant’s talk a moment of enlightening and encouragement, so well done.
      Don’t have much suggestions here, an excellent scene! 😉

  • There’s a light shining in all of us

    It’s small and fickle as can be

    Some people close their chests so tight

    As they don’t want anyone to see

    You however, you are brave

    And open up your heart so wide […]

    • I love the message in your poem— discovering that light within to inspire. Thank you 🙂

    • Hello Jens,
      I like the rhythm of your poem and its message that, if you open your heart, others will see your light. Well done.

    • I love your phrase “your little light sets the world ablaze”. And I love the idea that we all have that capability in us!

    • Hi Jens, a lovely poem fit for Christmas time. The happy rhythm of the poem gives us a carefree feeling but the message you deliver is full of meaning. Wonderful last line.

  • The morning sun was already out when I ran through the part of Paris known as the Villette. The map the book showed me pointed there, roughly. Once or twice I shouted for Alphonse, but apart from some early birds […]

    • Hello Jens,
      The pace in this scene is fast, and I can feel the climax with the minotaur and saving Alphonse is coming soon. I am glad that there is still some clues and figuring out to do and not just follow the same book. Also, I like the running around Paris and the vision of the Metro stations dissappearing, that feels exciting and tense. Well done, Thank you for sharing. Carolyn

    • Hi Jens. As usual, your writing is very vivid and I found it quite delightful, especially the scene in the bookshop where Mike almost ran out with the book and then returned to buy it after all. The blimp tram is really fascinating, although I thought Mike coming across it was perhaps a bit too lucky or “coincidental.” You have a good balance here between action, reflection and humour and the scene reads pleasantly. Well done! 🙂

  • It felt as if the train was moving at a snail’s pace. Behind the window pane, Germany was replaced by Belgium and Belgium was replaced by France. Finally, after hours, I arrived in Paris. But there I s […]

    • Hello Jens,
      Mike to the rescue, so exciting!
      There is one confusing typo – “You need me to help Alphonse!” I shouted should be “You need to help me find Alphonse!” I shouted.

      The book’s personality and reaction is great, indignation instead of gratitude. Well Done!
      Thank you for sharing, Carolyn

  • Once upon a time there was a prince who was charming, young and unemployed. The latter was not very surprising, as there is actually not that big demand for someone who can’t bake, cook, grow food or make a s […]

    • Jens, I love this! I thought the repetition of what Alexander needed to do was perfect. As for the picture in my mind of him creeping up the stairs and listening at each door, it took my mind back 75 years to a book of fairy tales. I memorized the pictures in a set of books called The New Wonder World, before I could read! The ending is true fairy tale reversal! Thank you for the memories!

    • Hahahahaha! Very amusing. I love this sort of thing.

    • Hi Jens, this is funny. Funny right from the start to tell us that princes are good for almost nothing….the reversal at the end was brilliant. Now I’d like to know why the princess needed to be gagged! She must have been a real nasty one…

  • “Well, I went to Ibiza,” Josh said.

    “Nice! Heard that it’s pretty warm there this time of the year.” Stefan stirred his coffee and took a sip.

    “Indeed. Nice beaches, cocktails, good music… oh and many, many go […]

    • Hello Jens,
      I can feel Mike’s attempt to put the Paris adventure behind him and be happy with Daniel … but the heart wants what the heart wants, or something like that.
      Mike’s choice feels like a step on the Hero’s Journey, but I don’t know if well enough to be sure. I like that Mike had to go back to his regular life, and move on, and that he does have to make a choice. and clever use of the minotaur to drag him back to Paris.
      Does he feel any apprehension about his dad?
      Thank you for sharing, Carolyn

    • Hi Jens. I think the time gap you’ve made between scene 42 and 43 was very effective. This scene has so much potential for being acted out, I can almost see the movie version of it in my head!
      Oh yes … I’ve almost forgotten about Daniel. I thought the word “content” might be a bit too positive here, perhaps you can consider something less happy-ish, like “comforted” or “safe.” It would also be nice if you contrast his simultaneous feelings of being “content” and miserable a bit more in order to make his coming “escape” a bit more of a relief.
      I was wondering what was going to pop up to trigger his hope. I think the painting was such a great idea, especially since the famous painting in the Louvre didn’t do much for him.
      You use great body language between Mike and Daniel, and the unspoken truth between them is quite clear. Good writing!

  • I finished packing my final things, then I left my hotel room. Next to the room, in the hallway, sat Alphonse. He woke up when I closed the door. He brushed through his face, but then he seemed to remember what he […]

    • Hello Jens,
      This scene is so sad and pitiful! And makes me even more curious to discover what Mike’s dad did to him. I think the scene could use more introspection, maybe a favorite memory of Mike and Alphonse, that would add to his despair. And a little bit of “all those tourist look so happy, I was happy with Alphonse”, to keep it connected and specific. I am wondering about the word “heal”, which implies a wound – maybe expand on this? Thank you for sharing, Carolyn

    • Hi Jens. Ah, I understand now why you’ve left out what happened between Mike and his dad in the previous scene. It definitely keeps the reader curious!
      You’ve really gotten to me with “like a puppy in the rain.” Who can resist that? And it also says a lot about the character of Alphonse in very little words.
      I was curious as to why Mike tried to do some of the more “touristy” things while in such despair, but the lack of enjoyment and avoidance of the crowds managed to portray something about his state of mind efficiently.
      Good scene.

  • “What the hell were you thinking, Mike?” the man who looked like my father boomed.

    I stumbled backwards against the wall. I could hardly get a word out.

    “I… I…”

    “WHAT? How many times did I tell you that you […]

    • This is so sad, and desperate. I don’t want Mike to give up and go home, but I definitely don’t want him to have to engage with his father again. What happened to Alphonse once he was pushed out of the room – pacing, banging on the door? And wth were they doing in that room for hours – very creepy!
      Thank you for sharing, Carolyn

    • Hi Jens. You really did a great job keeping up the conflict and tension here! This scene has a dark-night-of-the-soul kind of effect and you’ve managed to make the despair feel natural and realistic. Your emotion is well used – I feel sorry not only for Mike, but also Alphonse who is trying so hard to be supportive, even though he must be feeling a little bit hurt.
      I’m guessing you are still going to fill in some of the details of Mike being alone in the room with his father, as there seems to be a little gap in the story line there.
      If you were trying to leave the reader curious about how Mike was going to pick himself up again you’ve done a great job! Well done! 😉

  • Another year, another day of drinks and friends and celebrations.

    Another time for minor plans and way too many good temptations.

    Here I am, another day, another number to my name

    and all of this will just go […]

    • Hi
      I appreciate the optimism in your verse. CA

    • Hi, Jens
      This resonated with me; having just celebrated my annual birthday last month. Good writing, good cheer.
      Keep up the good work!

      Wanda Lovan

    • Hello Jens,
      There’s a well-defined beat to your poem – and it’s upbeat. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Jens, I enjoyed your little poem and the light-hearted atmosphere you’ve managed to create about the jolly way we celebrate the serious topic of aging. 😀
      I especially liked the alliteration in the third line (and there is some assonance in there too, lovely line! 😉 ).
      The humorous way in which you slipped in the little “life lesson” at the end was quite pleasing as the speaker showed that with aging comes the benefit of growing wisdom and caring less what others think or like about us.
      Short but well balanced and potent! 🙂

  • No, I think you’re right, cards and banks are a hassle, in Europe as well. Dunno how to resolve that in a proper way, but that’s for draft #2 🙂

  • Hi Riana,

    I do think in movie terms often – I don’t know whether that’s a good or a bad thing, but you thinking that it’s good is reassuring 😉

    Thanks for commenting!

  • Hi SJ,

    thanks for commenting. Yeah, I need to figure that out myself 😉

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Jens Grabarske

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