Friday, April 26, 2013


copyright Denis Michel

So softly treads the night.

And you.

You haven’t been around for a long time.
But I’ve never forgotten you.
Enter my writing room, sister.
Tread softly.
I’m easily frightened since I was nine and you left me.
You’re standing behind my right shoulder.
No breath reaches my skin.
“It isn’t normal.” Mother’s rules of normality were very straightforward. There were rich people and there were poor people. We were poor. Thus we had to work hard. Poor people couldn’t become rich people but with hard work they could become less poor.
 A nine-year-old who wanted to read was queer, to say the least.
A nine-year-old who saw things in the night was just plain lazy. As a result of that flaw of character his fantasy had run amuck. Idleness is the ear cushion of the devil. 
Father tried to understand. Secretly, because he was raised in a farmer’s family that was even poorer, he had been a dreamer in his youth too.
Yet he never saw an invisible sister.
“I would have been afraid, when I was your age, if I had seen a girl who no one else can see,” he said to me. “Aren’t you?”
Father was a kind man but explicitly absent in our family. He had to juggle two jobs in order to pay the mortgage of the decrepit tiny house we were living in.
My elder brother used to say: “The in-house here is the outhouse elsewhere.”
Nevertheless, Father was very proud of the house. He called his jobs “rooting for survival and holding a roof above our heads”.
I vowed that sometime he would be proud of me. When he was old  and could not work anymore, when the roof held itself.
Maybe then he wouldn’t be afraid anymore.

                             copyright Synthia Maes.

It was 1962.
May 7th when my elder brother pushed me from the stairs. Accidently? Yes. Never mind that we had an argument just before that. He had said that I shouldn’t be a boy, but a girl. Because I fantasized playing with a girl. So we fought. So I lost. So I fell from the stairs.
Mother and Father brought me to the hospital unconscious.
In that hospital I lost her, my invisible sister.
Until then she had been like a twin.
When I did something, she did.
When I said something, she did.
She was me, but then again quite a separate person.
I was attached to her.
Because she wasn’t there anymore, I began to love her.
She became a world on her own that I couldn’t enter.
So I faded from this world which I no longer could understand.
Not a jota, not a bit, not a morsel.
It was in my recovery bed that I deliberately started to forget about my Mother and Father and my Brother.
The nine-year-old was on his own now.
Because he had taken a loss, everything and everyone else had to do too.
51 years later I’m reading Philip Roth’s Patrimony about the last months of his Father.
 I am fascinated.
A sea of rich details. Of Roth’s youth. Of his Father’s youth.
I envy Roth. Instead of falling from stairs, he swims in the sea.
Since my ninth year, my memories of my childhood are like overexposed snapshots.
Continuously, I try to give them sharpness in my novels.
I fail.
Only one memory has always been sharp and clear.
And became solid again months ago when something terrible struck me.
What that was, is mine to know only.
Here, softly treads the night.
And you.
You’re standing behind my right shoulder.
No breath reaches my skin.
Forgive me, sister.

Bob Van Laerhoven

Bio: In the mean time: “La Vengeance de Baudelaire”, the French translation of “De Wraak van Baudelaire” has been published in Canada and will be published in France in June.
In the UK we probably will sell the e-book rights of the English translation (Baudelaire’s Revenge) to Endeavour press. There is another Publishing House and an agent in the running, so we have the luxury of being able to choose.

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