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The gnome who could hear anything…

The gnome who could hear anything... Ulla Hennig, August 2011

Yesterday night, shortly before going to bed, I felt like doing a doodle again, grabbed pencil and paper and began to draw. Twenty minutes later a rough sketch of a gnome was looking at me, with huge elephant like ears.

Today I scanned it in and began to work on it with Inkscape, my vector graphics software. The picture you see above is the result of a 1 hour work. And suddenly the piece is beginning to tell a story:

The poor chap normally loves his huge ears. He can hear even the faintest noise – and often this fact has saved his life. But he wished he’d never been born with those big ears when he was trying to cross the street. Even from far away he heard terrible noise waves, and when he arrived at the big beton band he was almost deafenend every time one of those colourful vehicles on wheels passed him. He would have run straight back to his nice little cave under the willow tree if he did not know that on the other side of the beton band there was a patch full of apple trees with delicious red and yellow fruits…

Fir Cone

Fir Cone. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Fir Cone. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Fir cones are really nothing unusual. But this could tell a story – the story of the two red squirrels, Max and Maxie.

Actually, Max was the first to discover it, full of seeds, still hanging on one of those towering firs. His little mouth watered – what a delicious meal! Unfortunately, it was not hanging down from the tree he was sitting on. In order to get it Max had to jump through the air. Not that that was any problem – Max was one of the best jumpers of the whole squirrel community. Once a year there was a big jumping contest, and in the meantime most of the other squirrels had lost their interest in the contest because Max always won.

So he jumped. When he landed on the branch with the fir cone, he was greeted with a loud hissing. “This is my fir cone!” He looked into a pair of angry brown eyes. The other squirrel embraced the fir cone with her paws (at second glance he had noticed that the squirrel was female). She definitely was pretty with her glossy red coat. “I saw it first,” Max said. “And I was there first,” she answered.

She was really pretty. Max thought about letting her have the cone. He could easily find another one. If she only had asked him!

“We could fight for it.” She smiled in a rather impertinent manner. “I know that I will get it in the end.” “You won’t!” Max was angry now. Such a cheeky person!  “I will!” Now the two squirrels watched each other’s movements. Maxie was still clutching the fir cone. Max jumped at her, hoping to get her run over by his sheer weight. She dogded him, and he barely managed not to fall from the branch. She ran after him, trying to bite into the lower part of his back. He turned round, attacked her and sunk his teeth into her neck.

The fir cone was forgotten. The two squirrels raced through the branches, up and down the trees. Suddenly they heard a loud “plop”. Obviously the fir cone had dropped from the branch. They stopped fighting. Below them a  very tiny squirrel with a grungy reddish-brown coat approached the cone and rasped away. After his meal he looked into the trees. “Thanks”, he smiled and waved his paw merrily, “Thanks so much!”

Great Expectations

Sitting room. In the middle of the room is a table covered with a white tablecloth and set with three wine glasses. Three chairs are arranged around the table. Then three people enter the room: a plump woman in her 50ies, a man at the same age with broad shoulders and a young man about 25 years old, with longish brown hair. Whereas the couple is clad in rather formal clothes, the young man is wearing washed out jeans and a t-shirt. The young man is their son, who has applied for fine arts at the university. He got “the letter” from it. The parents invited him in their house to hear the latest news.

Woman: Pete, just sit here at your usual place, please. And Mike, can you bring the wine bottle please, the one I bought today at the supermarket?

Woman and son sit down. The man goes into the kitchen. The woman is rather excited, rubs her hands, takes up her wine glass and puts it down again, tries to smooth the table cloth. The son is staring at the table. The man comes back with a big wine bottle, reading the label.

Man: reads Char-donn-ay. Never heard that name before.

Woman: It is a French wine. My friend Glenda told me that it is a very nice one. She’s got some experience with wine, you know.

Man: You can say that! opens the bottle with some difficulty. There it is! pours the wine into the three glasses.

Woman: raises her glass Well, to the future student of the Fine Arts!

Son: looks up, cleans his throat Well, wait a moment, Mom.

Woman: puts her glass down Being accepted at the university is a reason to drink to, Pete. You are such a modest person. You’ve ever been. Do you remember, Mike, when he’s got that letter from his teacher, telling us what a great artist we have in the familiy. He didn’t want to talk about it, our Pete, didn’t he?

Man: uh-uh.

Woman: And now he’s got that letter of acceptance from the university and doesn’t want us to drink to it! You know, I told Glenda yesterday, that we are so proud of having an artist in our family. And a student! The first one of the family! He won’t have to earn his money by selling cars to arrogant customers, like our Wayne has to do.

Man: There’s nothing bad with selling cars. His boss says he’s one of the best salesmen he ever had.

Woman: looks at the man and he won’t have to earn his money by putting bricks upon bricks each day!

Man: staring angryly at the woman and what’s wrong about that? We’re pretty well off with the wage I am carrying home every month! But I know you’ve  always wanted someone more educated! Someone in a business suit!

Son: Mom and Dad, please!

Woman: You’re right, Pete. Your father and I won’t quarrel on such a wonderful day, won’t we, Mike! I am so exited! When are you to begin your studies?

Son: To tell you the truth, Mom and Dad…

Woman and Man: Yes, Son?

Son: Not this year.

Woman: not this year? What does that mean? Next year, then?

Son: No. He gets off his chair. Well, I can as well tell you all about it. They told me that they could not accept me. No artistic potential what so ever. Should not try again. I am no artist, Ma! Never will be! runs out of the room.

The End

I wrote this piece because I wanted to try something I’ve never done before – writing a kind of screenplay. I don’t know anything about writing screenplays, I must admit. I just have a vague and amateurish idea how to write it. I can only publish it on my blog because I know that you, the community of my blog, are kind and capable of tolerating such an attack on any standards of writing. I promise: I won’t do it again!

This is a contribution to Mission(ImPossible) over at Joanna Young’s blog “Confident Writing”.

Some Stories Berlin Can Tell You

Some parts of Berlin are full of history. Of course you can read the facts in your Berlin city guide, or at Wikipedia.

But sometimes it is better to read the stories in order to get an impression of “how it was at that time”. I have got two stories out of the depth of my archives for you:


Still Standing

She could not believe it.

She had come to the meeting, thinking that it would be easy. Most of her colleagues who would have to decide today, knew her. They knew, what kind of work she had been doing all over the years. She had been responsible for the monthly publication, which had been published regularly, every month, without delay, due to her committment.

And now? Nobody mentioned that. Nobody even mentioned her. Other people were nominated for the office, people with no experience.

She felt like running away, hiding in some secrete corner. “They don’t want you!” She could not think of something else. “They don’t want you!”

She slowly got up from her chair. Suddenly, the discussion stopped. People turned their heads towards her. She had their attention now. “What do you think you are doing?” When these words left her mouth she realized that she was not going to run away. She was going to fight. “I want you to talk about me. I have been doing this job for four years now, and I think that I did it well.” Ah, she felt much better now, though she noticed that her voice was trembling. They looked at her, some of them with a kind of guilty look on their faces. “But you know, I can pretty well do without that additional load of work. I can pretty well do without you!”

She could not believe that she had said this. Now she had got their full attention. Some of them definitely looked like pupils having just been reprehended by their teacher.

She moved towards the door. Then she turned round:  “I’m fed up with this discussion! If you don’t want me to do the job, I’ll just go and let you manage on your own!” “Come on, get back to your chair – we didn’t say we didn’t want you.” “Calm down, you know we need you!”

When she thought about the whole thing in the evening she knew that she had learnt one important thing: If you want something, you have to speak up. Don’t expect other people speaking for you!

This is a contribution to the “What you learn from Adversity” Group Writing Project over at