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Stormy night (short story)

Brigitte Neumann

A warm and humid heat lay in the air. The sky hung full of rolling clouds. Grey-black, they dimmed the light and waited to discharge themselves with twitching, angry flashes.

Maria’s colorful blouse stuck to her skin. The heavy dark brown hair pressed the warmth into her face.

Sweat ran down the slender, almost lean woman’s body and joined under her feet with the dust of the stony steps to form a dirty grey sole. Maria looked up. She shivered with fear, for she had never experienced such a threatening cloudy sky in her thirty-five years. “Turn around,” they warned inner voices. She wanted to hurry down the many steps and arrive at the bottom in time for the storm to break out. But the shaky viewing platform of the old tower lured. Her feet resisted. As if the dirty-grey soles of her feet would lift her from the laws of gravity, she seemed to float up the steps. With every step up, however, the end of the spiral staircase moved into the distance. The rolling clouds rumbled up and whirled around the walls.

“Stop, stop, no further.” A woman blocked her way. Mary wanted to pass. But it stuck her feet on the step. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t solve it.

“You will not hurry further up in the weather. Loud and determined the voice drowned out the roar of the upcoming storm, was carried further into the masonry and resounded broken and changed from the different levels back.

“Get out of here! Mary saw Martha standing in front of her once again, slender, almost lean, sweaty and glued with heavy dark brown hair. Martha accompanied her wherever she went. When Mary wanted to romp, jump and laugh as a child, Martha ordered her to sit still, because the adults liked it better. Martha always showed her how to behave in an adapted and conscientious manner, thus so often preventing her from pursuing her inner desires and passions.

“Go away.” Maria’s screeching drowned out the roar of the raging storm.

“No!” Martha shouted only this one word. Loud, decisive, without distorting reverberation, it stood as an insurmountable barrier in front of Mary. Instead of further words, a fierce battle broke out between them. The step inside the tower widened to a large free space. People passed by and those who stopped shook their heads on the ground in the two’s face, figures wrestling with each other. It again involved Maria and Martha in one of those battles, the end of which had never been a success.

A bolt of lightning flared up. Mighty jagged fires cast dazzling light over the women. The square changed back to the step in the narrow tower. Both sank to their knees at the same time. Before the rumble of thunder had rolled away, the next lightning flashed, powerful and close. Lightning and thunder no longer waited for each other. They raged around the tower. Small fire arrows flew, set course for Maria and Martha, approached their victims with frenzied lust and speed, sprayed their heat, attacked. Mary screamed, Martha screamed. Maria jumped up. She wanted to escape from the fire-peaks.

“Attention! Cover! A fiery arrow wave set course for Maria’s head. At the last second, Martha pulled her back onto the steps. The fire arrows bounced off the stone wall above her heads. Running away was not possible. Everywhere the flame spears raged. Mary hung in Martha’s clasp. Horror came out of all the pores and sweat flowed into each other. Their eyes met, they met each other in fear and panic. Martha loosened her firm grip.

“Don’t let go,” she pleaded with the other. For the first time, she felt the hold that Martha gave her. The fire arrows changed shape and sprayed through the old tower like stars of sparklers. In this starry shimmer the storm stopped roaring and the thick drops no longer whipped onto the stone ground.

An alarm clock rang as if from far away. Maria switched it off. Tired, she rose out of bed and went to the window. “It stormed tonight,” she muttered, watching for a moment the even after rain. She was about to leave for a quick break in Paris. On the table was her identity card. She could not forget it. Next to the screened picture of the smiling woman with the heavy dark hair stood a reading: Müller, Maria Martha.

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