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  • Hi Christian, thanks, I’m glad that you like it!

  • Hi Riana, thanks for the kind words!

    As to 52 scenes: I will return, don’t worry, but I have a lot on my plate right now!

  • There, a simple slip

    of my tongue or step

    and down the drain I go.

    Sliding back into the past

    seeing all my faults and failures

    all dumb stuff I did and said.

    It’s all there, a slip away.

    For success s […]

    • Well written. I see the slippery slope that reminiscing about failures leads to.

    • Hi Jens,
      Oh dear, this seems a dark prompt for many. Regret truly is a beast, and I enjoyed your poetic, vulnerable take on it.

    • Hello Jens,
      You’ve written some powerful images – success that stands as tall as lions and failures that are scary creatures. Well done.

    • Hi Jens, I thought you very aptly sketched this mental struggle we have with failure. The metaphor of the “scary creatures” was fitting in the way that the description is somewhat vague and mysterious, and it emphasizes the way in which we don’t logically always understand why we get so caught up in our failures and pasts. I thought perhaps something along the lines of “sneaky creatures” might contrast them better with the lions and emphasize their slyness?
      “Take your heart and scratch away” is a stunning line. It says so much and successfully summarizes the escalation from the contrasting “a simple slip” in your first line.
      Always enjoy reading your writing, Jens! We miss you on 52 scenes! 🙂

  • He was crouching on top of the lockers like a panther, ready to jump down. Almost naked, only wearing his white boxer shorts, his black hair touching the ceiling. His muscles were taught as he shifted his weight […]

    • Beautiful descriptions and actually really like the ending. I was thrown a little by the mention that he was part Cherokee but also German which might just reflect ignorance on my part. I’d love to learn more about both characters and their brief time together. Very engaging!

    • This is a thoroughly engaging piece of memoir writing. I was really taken in by your expression of inchoate desire and emotional stasis.
      I became a bit lost at ‘He had written a rap song about me …’ Wasn’t sure if this was factual or part of the imagined ending?
      Good job!
      Sharon

      • Hi Sharon… well, he really did write a rap song about me, but yeah, that came a bit out of nowhere and doesn’t fit with the rest of the story.

        Thanks for commenting!

  • There is something in the air
    a scent of rose and thyme
    the smell it breathes out from your hair
    and marries soon my smell of lime.

    The cloud of odours lingers
    and combines to something new
    just how we link our […]

  • There is something in the air
    a scent of rose and thyme
    the smell it breathes out from your hair
    and marries soon my smell of lime.

    The cloud of odours lingers
    and combines to something new
    just how we link our […]

  • I didn’t know why he invited me. And I didn’t know why I had come. But still, I was there, in a bad-fitting hand-me-down tuxedo in front of a palace.

    The security guard’s eyes glanced me up and down twice, check […]

    • You put me right in the middle of the fancy party and I could feel the narrator’s awkwardness. Now I’m wondering what could possibly have been the motive for the rich friend to unload something of his fathers and vanish. And the other schoolmates that didn’t come? What were his plans for them? This would be a fun prologue to something. I like your writing Jens and this one doesn’t disappoint.

      • Thanks Beth! Well, I do have some idea about that. It basically boils down to a question asked by Philipp K. Dick in “The Man In The High Castle”.

        Dick was obsessed with the difference between fake and real and their relationship with each other. Every single one of his works aims to examine one of the many questions that arise around the two.

        Without giving too many spoilers, one side plot in “The Man In The High Castle” is this:

        One day, the owner of an antique shop is approached by a costumer who, politely, informs him that one of the items he bought at the shop was fake. A very good replica, a stunningly good replica even, very, very close to the real thing – but not the real thing.

        Troubled by this, the owner of the antique shop asks an expert to check every single item he has in stock. The result is damning: every item he has is fake. There is not a single real antique in the entire shop. They are all replicas, perfect replicas, almost indistinguishable from the original and in fact it takes an expert to tell them apart – but to an expert there is no doubt that they are replicas.

        Dick wants the reader to think about the difference between a real antique and a perfect replica. And for that the question is: what is the purpose of an antique? Well, most of the things he sells are items that will never be used, but put on display. An old coin, a picture, a revolver that is apparently historic. So what is the harm if it’s not the item itself but a perfect copy?

        The answer is of course: its uniqueness. There is only one real thing, but there can be hundreds, even thousands of copies.

        But the follow-up question is: why does the uniqueness matter? Does it matter?

        And when I thought about that, this story popped out. Somehow, we feel, deep down, that there is a difference, but we can’t put our finger on it. Questions like that fascinated Dick and they fascinate me.

        Thanks for commenting and I’m glad that you like my stories!

    • Hi Jens, great story! You create suspense, I just had to keep reading to see what would happen. I may have been a tad disappointed that they never saw each other again. Well written and an interesting plot idea!

    • I loved the suspense you created with Steve’s nervous awkwardness, his sense of being out of place at this event, followed by his sense of relief at Arthur’s acknowledgement of him. I wanted to know Arthur’s motive for screwing with his father like he did, even knowing his father may never know his ring could be a fake, and I was disappointed that Steve didn’t take it upon himself to at least dish out the cash to know whether he had the real thing or not. But, such is the nature of greed vs fear, and obviously Steve gave into fear, whereas I would have given into my greed! A lovely dilemma to ponder, from a well written, engaging story. Well done!

      • Thanks, Peggy! I’m glad that people liked it. I wouldn’t interpret Steve’s reaction as fear but as… not fitting, if that makes any sense. The game Arthur plays is something so beyond Steve’s normal life, he doesn’t even know how to react. So he ignores it as best as he can.

    • What an intriguing story! It leaves me with all kinds of questions. Maybe you’ll develop it into a longer story one day? You establish Steve’s discomfort and Arthur’s privilege very well. Arthur seems to want to get back at his father. Poor Steve is an innocent victim in this power play. This was a unique interpretation of the prompt.

  • 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 Riana,

        thanks! By the way, the Thalys is not a metro line, it connects several German and Belgian cities with Paris. I should make that clearer.

        I hope you guys are enjoying the 52 scenes!

    • 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.

      • Hi David, sorry for the late reply. Well, I will do a rewrite, but I need to tone down a little on the projects.

        I hope you guys are having fun!

  • 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.

    • Ese replied 5 months ago

      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
      xx

    • 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
      xxx

    • 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…

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Jens Grabarske

Profile picture of Jens Grabarske

@vorpalcoder

Active 1 day, 10 hours ago
Short Story : 5
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