Today a story I wrote myself a few years ago in 2011, to be precise. I translated it in English as well as I could (with a little help from Appy). I hope you enjoy it.
I want to be a writer so much it hurts. The beauty in writing is the absence of talking. I don’t like talking all that much, and to be honest I am not very good at it either… I stu stu stutter a bit, and if I can prevent talking , I will do my utmost to avoid it. I’m better at writing. In primary school I’ve earned good grades for writing and reading. It is fashionable nowadays to have a presentation about something in front of a classroom. It’s your turn to talk. About anything and everything. You are supposed to learn that way to talk in front of a group of people. But I don’t want to talk in front of a group of people. I’d rather not talk at all, if you don’t mind. To write what I am thinking, now that I can do. There is but one huge disadvantage about wanting to be a writer: you want to be read. It is like applause after a performance: your book in some one else’s hands. In the hands of a pretty girl of course. Fat chance at that, ever. Somehow it hurts more if a girl laughs at you in your face than when a boy does the same. Most boys don’t laugh, by the way, they have other ways to show how they think of my stu-stu-stutter.
To have my book published is as easy as getting rid of the stammer. But I am a modern guy so I made a blog on the Internet. Unfortunately a blog no one ever visited. I watched YouTube and saw the three-minutes-movies where people told a story. Now, that is what I wanted! There was only one problem. I don’t have to explain what it is, do I? The only thing I needed was some one to tell my story on YouTube. Right. One half of my class were half baboons that like to mock-fight all day long, and the other half were Barbie dolls. To the girls the special bargains at the local drug-store would be the highlight any day. So none of the kids on my class were in my target group. Besides, I would never, I mean ever let a guy read my text aloud. I mean. Not ever. But where would I find a girl that would be crazy enough to read my texts out loud and be seen worldwide on the Internet?
You know, once I’ve got an idea, it is NOT gone the next minute or so… Just like the stutter, a thought keeps re re repeating itself. On the Net there was a place where you could leave a message or a request. And so I did. “Is there a girl who is willing to record one of my texts?”. Two weeks went by. Nothing. Of course not. After three weeks one message: Could I send some samples of my texts? I sent her a couple of Christmas stories. I had enough of those.
New message: Did I live at travelling distance? Could I come to her house and meet her? Bad idea. Ve Ve Very B B bad idea.
I replied: “Do you have a camera so you can record it yourself if I just delivered the text?”
Oh. Now what? “Nice to have met you, goodbye?”. Or try to send a “semi funny” mail? My only line of defence left was self mockery and I sketched my dilemma in broad outlines.
The mail was quiet for a week. Of course there was no message. Because I checked my mail on average 52 times a day, it wasn’t possible I could have missed it. On the eighth day DingDong, new message. Elise van Zanten. Elise wrote she was willing to do it, but she needed me to make a decent clip for YouTube. Could I bring my video camera and meet her at her address at eight next Friday?
Now if I wanted to be a famous writer, (and I did) that meant I had to go. Get on with it. My tripod trembled with nerves as I rang her doorbell. Elise opened the door. Not what I had expected of course. Not the buxom goddess of my age with long blond hair, but a woman in her fifties, long and dignified. Sandy hair, in a colour on sale this week at the local drug-store. She was a lady, that much could not be overlooked. I noticed how she sat. Not like our generation: flop into one’s chair and chill. You know, chill. No, with a straight back a bit towards the edge of the chair, without the slightest slouch. The conversation went well. A breath of fresh air, really. After three sentences I locked up completely and couldn’t say a word for as long as a minute. I got all red, became more nervous, and after that I couldn’t say the word video at all of course. Elise smiled and asked if I would rather finish my sentence or if I preferred she could try to finish it for me? I started again using different words and somehow that went quite well. And so we breathed trough of a few embarrassing moments. We decided to make a trial recording. Against the white wall in her room she put a chair and a few meters away I put up my video camera on the tripod.
She spoke in a calm, well articulate voice. My text sounded more like a melody then anything I’d written. I tried to tell her I was enthusiastic about her performance, but she understood that anyway, even if I cou cou couldn’t say it. We cleaned up and sat on the couch again. I got a Cola. No trace of a mister Van Zanten anywhere. We made an appointment as to which stories we would record and the sequence of it. What made her human, or should I say feminine, is that she said: ‘I have nothing to wear’. We agreed on meeting next week Saturday at eleven.
At eleven o clock sharp I was at her doorstep again. She offered me coffee, but I didn’t care for coffee. Instead I said: “No, lets go shopping”. Well, of course it sounded more like: “Nn, nnn, nn n no, lets go sh sh sh shopping.”
She drove me to the nearest mall, because I’m going for my drivers licence October next year. I would have asked a blond goddess of my age at the back seat of my bike, but not a prim and proper Mrs. Van Zanten. I had done my homework and so I knew which store to visit. So we went in a straight line to that store. Elise understood what I had in mind and started to protest: “O, no my friend that is so no going to happen. You are not buying me something expensive in there, you are going to spend your money more useful.”
She didn’t knew me well enough to realize that once I’ve made up my mind, I can be rather stubborn. And so we left the shop with a black evening gown that would have fitted a movie star and made me spend about 70% of my savings. The rest of my money went to the hairdresser.
Compared with that the recording of the text was easy. Elise knew all the texts by heart and when we took three takes to record, she didn’t complain. That evening and night I edited everything together and the next morning I was on her doorstep again with a bunch of flowers and a YouTube movie.
I had the miniature Christmas tree in my hand, decorated and all. 17,95 on sale at Wallmart. I watched a black shining stone that read: Here rests Elise Johanna van Zanten 21-09-1959 – 14-09-2007. It did not say: Run over by a drunken driver. I did not say: The guy had already served his time in prison and was now driving again, free as a bird.
She hadn’t been forgotten in the four years that have passed since then. Fresh flowers, a small stone heart, two little stone angels on her grave and a small candle in a glass jar made clear she was not forgotten and she still warmed and lit the heart of many. After I was satisfied the frozen grave was neat and tidy again I stood up and said to my wife that stood motionless next to me: “Your mother looks decent again”. She nodded, grabbed my hand a squeezed it for a moment. That was enough.