by Fabienne Mühlbacher
My feet are burried on a high hill, deep in the hard soil. I am proudly standing on this particular hill, looking over the deep forests and the landscape of not very densely sitting buildings, made by humans. I feel like I am levitating over the small towns, the unimportant roads, I feel like I could own all of this, just because of this royal appearing hill. Well, I am a Stift. Which means I am an abbey, build by people, who lived approximately one thousand years ago. You can´t imagine, can you? Well, for so long I was sitting here, my base resting deeply inside the hill, waiting for humans come and go, feeling the nature around me, being proud of my baroque appearance. I could go on and on about my architecture, about my decor and thoughtfully placed rooms, but today I want to tell you a story.
On a lost hallway, where hardly anyone comes by, in a side building just across the meticulous mowned lawn in front of the church, in a small hole in the wall just beside the door frame lived a mouse. I do not know its name anymore, even if this mouse was so confused in its tiny head, it would always whisper its own name in exactly the same rhythm and tone of voice, so that I had this rhythmically called name stuck in my ear for ages (and I mean ages, like forty years or so), but sadly then I forgot it. Shame on me. However, this mouse was kind of rebellious. It had visions, it wanted to do something, to change the world, change the universe. But it was also a bit confused. Sometimes it would just swooosh across the marble floor, almost stumbling and in the last second keeping itself from falling, then swooosh around the corner, almost falling again, and slide into a corner. Then, it would face the walls. It would sit down. And giggle. And giggle. I could see the tears in its eyes, because something in its head was so funny. Anyways, I wanted to tell you the story of this mouse. I already told you that it lived inside a wall. These insides were a small paradise for the mouse. There were so many perfectly created paths and small spaces, because of the construction, that it really had a luxurious home. The mouse one day got out of the building. It swoooshed to the wonderful staircase, where some artist- I again cannot remember the name- painted a sky with all the mythtic characters of the bible, and where just in that moment a ceremony was held. The pope himself slowly and gracefully was about to go down the stairs. The mouse, though, swoooshed again, now far more quickly than most times, swoooshed right through the pope´s legs and grabbed the tiny piece of cheese it had spotted. Unfortunately, the pope was so afraid of mice that he jumped away, tripped over his long costume, fell down the stairs and broke so many bones he died immediately. The next pope arrived a year later at the beautiful site I am standing, and the mouse swoooshed around in the hallway again. At that time, the pope was eating at an extraordinarily filled table. The mouse did not care though, got into the room through a hole in the door, jumped on the table and again grabbed a piece of cheese. The pope was so angry, he tried to scream at the servants, but he unfortunately had a huge piece of duck still in his mouth and suddenly he coughed, turned extremely red and chocked to death. Years passing on, this rhythm continued. The mouse outlived five generations of popes like this. When the mouse died, I was kind of sad that I had not had its swoooshing around anymore. But when I took a quick look at its apartment behind the walls it lived in- I did not before, because I wanted it to have its private space- I saw the galaxy. The universe. I mean I did not see the real galaxy… but I saw a huge piece of art hanging on the inside of the wall. I saw that the mouse had hung a huge dark blue fabric across the whole inside of the wall, and glued its tiny, half rotten pieces of cheese on the fabric so that it looked like shimmering stars. I was breathless. After a few minutes of me staring on to the piece of art, I noticed something written underneath the piece of art on the right side: „For you. You are so tall, but you will never reach the stars. “
The mouse brought the stars to me.
A walk in the woods
by Hannah Neudecker
As soon as Meraki left her tribe and walked towards the forest, she could feel her connection to nature grow stronger. The veins, that were visible underneath her pale skin, turned greener and greener every second. With every step she took she could feel the ground. The arrangement of weeds, seeds, small pebbles and bugs left a unique impression on her. The faster her steps became the more pictures appeared in her head. A small breeze played with her short white hair and caressed her round body. She felt relieved when her pulse finally synchronized with the birds’ heartbeats. She ran and jumped around touching as many trees as she could. Meraki even recognized many of her old playmates by their uniquely shaped bark. The wind lifted her up in the air and she kept soaring through the woods.
Soon she reached a clearance and the sunlight hit her with a smack, making her glow like a firefly. She enjoyed that feeling of comfort for a while, but then decided to glide down to the ground, because the sun had overheated her delicate limbs. But that didn’t stop the stunning sensations.
Lying on the ground, she could feel the slow, eternal rhythm of the forest sending shivers through her body. Meraki felt the sudden urge to go back to her family, but ignored it because she didn’t want this special moment to end. The tickling sensation of bugs and ants crawling on her sensitive skin made her send happy vibrations to her surroundings. She listened to the peaceful melody of the birds and trees, drowsing off into light sleep.
As she entered the land of dreams, she mind-travelled home to her tribe’s camp, but couldn’t find anything. The grass was trampled down and some trees had been moved away for the campsite and left an empty space, but the people who had done this clearly moved away. This realization woke her up with a shock. Suddenly she felt cut off from everything that had given her comfort and energy. So she laid on the ice-cold ground, unable to move and sent out distressed calls.
It took a while until she was able to break the trance, but when she felt a warm presence next to her, she couldn’t help but move closer. Meraki felt the thing crawl onto her and start tapping a foreign rhythm on her chest. She opened her eyes and saw the weird colorful creature that – for some reason she didn’t understand – wanted her to live so badly. But its efforts were not in vain and her curiosity began to grow. Reaching out to the forest and the strange animal, she managed to get up. She heard a faint melody and felt a sudden but strong pull towards the horizon. When her strange companion started hopping in that direction, she followed him and their journey began.
The Hawthorne Tree
by Éilis O’Sullivan
Fog sits above the ground, obscuring everything in its way. Rich green rolling hills surround for miles. In an open field stands an almighty Hawthorne tree. Its trunk over a metre wide and as dark as the rich soil in which it grows. The tree lies on flat ground protected by the grassy faerie fort. Its branches sit low, dressed in mossy green leaves and rich fruit.
At the base of this tree a small girl, no older than nine years, is huddled. She hugs herself with shaking sobs. Her ice-blue eyes are almost as light as the tears that sprinkle her face. She can’t quite seem to catch her breath.
Eyes scrunch shut and pop open almost rhythmically as if she cannot decide which is worse, the image she sees when her eyes are open or when they’re closed. Her sobs are protected by the tree and mote as she struggles to breathe. Her heartbeat slows as she curls onto her side, pulling her autumn coat against the light breeze. Her eyelids droop as her head lolls to the side, curling herself into the tree.
The softest tinkle of the lightest bells dances along the wind. The warm colours of the sunset send strobes across the little girl’s sleeping form, engulfing her in the safety of the faerie fort. A silence settles around the girl.
Muffled calls fight their way through the shrubs and bushes towards the small child. They slowly pull her back into reality as she wakes in the arms of the Hawthorne tree. The little girl recognises the voice of her mother raising and falling, seeming to pass by the confinements of her sanctuary.
The little girl considered for a short moment to stay; to let the tree be the protector she lost. A chill runs up her spine and the towering tree seems to berate her in a manner that she is far too familiar with. Something whispers in her ear, urging her to find her mother and with that she jumps up, brushing the dried leaves off of her black dress. Climbing up and over the small hill mound calling out for the one person who could make even the darkest moments seem liveable.
As she ran down the hill to approach her mother, she saw that her black suit pants were stained with the same green and brown of the earth around. “Oh my sweetie! You scared me when I couldn’t find you!” Her mother’s voice did not hold any of the scolding it should have. The little girl’s voice cracked as she apologised to her mother, breathing in the smell of home on her. She found that if she breathed in deeply that she could almost smell her father too.
All at once, she understood what those whispers had meant. The little girl knew that she would come back to this faerie fort if she when she needed to, but it was her mother that she could always go to no matter what.
The Alphabet Story
by Éilis O’Sullivan
Amy felt her stomach growling before she heard it.
Bouncing up and down she made her way to the kitchen.
Cool tiles tickle her toes as the glow from the opened fridge door illuminates the kitchen counter.
“Damn…”, Amy muttered as she notices the lack of the sweet treats she craved.
Every item of food was sectioned off into their own little lunch boxes, one for grapes, one for berries, even the Babybel cheeese had their own pointless lunchbox.
“For God’s sake! All I want is something nice!!”
Grumbling, Amy turned her attention to the cabinets behind her.
Honestly, she knew her attempts at finding something were futile since her mother started her new diet.
In the cabinet to her right is where the alcohol was kept, so maybe there’s something sweet treats hiding in there too.
Just in case, Amy decided to check every single drawer and cupboard in the kitchen, but she same up empty with every opened door.
Kicking the kitchen table Amy decided to give up her search.
Limping back to her room, Amy heard an all-too-familiar sound; the snap of a Kit-Kat bar.
Momentarily confused, Amy pondered over the sound, thinking it was her sleep-deprive hunger that caused her to hear what she wanted and not reality.
“No, it couldn’t be…”, she thought as she made her way down the corridor towards her father’s office.
OBIVIOUSLY, her dad would have his own supply!
Presumming that her dad was going to be in his office working late while munching on goodies, Amy opened the door stopping mid-step.
Quietly pushing the door open, hoping tp catch him in the act and to scold him for it.
Right there in the middle of the room sat her mother surrounded by empty and torn wrappers.
Snickers, Kit-Kats, Mars bars, Tayto’s, Haribo’s.
They were everywhere!!
“UNBELIEVABLE! You gave out to me for wanted on – ONE – square of chocolate and here you are stuffing your face! I can’t believe you!” Amy dramatically half-shouted/half-whispered.
“Virtually, every single surface of Dad’s office is covered in sweet wrappers!”
Wide-eyed, Amy’s mother just sat there with chocolate all over her face.
“Xavier will find out about this, Mom! I’m telling him tomorrow!”, Amy screamed at her mother.
“You wouldn’t!”, gasped Amy’s mother.
“Zucchinis! That’s it! That’s all you’ll be eating for the next week! Amy announced, “And give me that Kit-Kat!”, and with the flick of her hair, she was out of the room and up the stairs.
by Bernhard Schwingsandl