"Lilla Kassai"

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Lilla Kassai: The Lonely Castle

Lilla Kassai, The Lonely Castle (acrylic and glowing paint)

Giving the Sack

Lilla Kassai

It was almost two in the morning. I was lying on my bed with my eyes half open. I couldn’t sleep. I left the bar around midnight, even though it was open until 6 in the morning. As the owner of the place I always got self-conscious when it was not my turn to close in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, I trusted my employees with my whole heart, but even if the Red Velvet Cocktail Bar was one of the highest-ranked bars in the city, the danger of a mannerless drunkard causing trouble was never zero.

I somehow managed to fall asleep, but no sooner had I done so, than I woke up again.

“What is this sound?” I rubbed my eyes and started to regain my consciousness. A few moments later I realized that it was an Uriah Heep song, July Morning. My ringtone. I looked at the screen wondering who was calling me. It was the reception’s phone from the bar.

“Lévay on the phone,” I mumbled. 

“Boss, we have a problem here,” stuttered a frustrated female voice “The police is here and they arrested Dominik.”

I froze for a moment. The police…arrested my nephew who works for me…in my bar???

“Wait for me, I’ll be there in fifteen minutes! Stay calm!” I ordered the girl, and put down the phone.

I quickly got dressed and drove to the bar, where the police officers were already waiting for me.

“Are you Gábor Lévay, the owner?” asked the officer in an unfriendly tone.

“Yes,” I nodded “What has happened?”

“One of your employees named Dominik Árvai has been charged with sexual assault and indecent exposure against a female guest” the officer snapped “You can do a testimony tomorrow.”

I was penetrated. Domi, you goddamn womanizer!

“Can I at least talk to my nephew?” I felt my voice dither.

“I’m afraid not, sir. You can visit him at the police station for one and a half hours between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. the day after tomorrow.”

After that, the officers said a harsh goodbye to me and the two girls who were working. We went inside the bar; I informed the guests that the bar would be closed.

“Ladies and gentlemen! We are sorry to informl you, but we are closing at this very moment with regard to the previous scene. Please leave the bar right now!” I told the guests politely, but in a serious tone, then turned to the girls.

“Anna, Viktória, I am afraid that I have to keep you a bit longer. I want you to tell me what happened.”

“Okay Boss,” the girls mumbled, as we sat down at the counter. When all of the guests had left, Viktória started to talk.

“So, yesterday, when you had to leave earlier, Dominik, Dávid and I were holding the front. Around 11 a.m. a bunch of chicks came, all wearing some designer clothes and jewelry that cost an arm and leg. And maybe your soul as well, I don’t know…”

“Can we skip the clothes-part? I don’t really see that as important…” I interrupted, but then Anna snapped.

“It is, though. That means that they were rich as hell. Their outfits all together costed more than the maintenance of this place.”

I shook my head, not understanding their point.

“Is that some girlish jealousy, or what?” I started to get annoyed. I really appreciated these hard-working ladies but couldn’t understand them at that moment.

“No,” Viktória continued. “It might not seem relevant, but it will be. So they arrived, and since they looked pretty, Dominik instantly offered his services to them.”

I rolled my eyes. Of course he did. I warned him many times that his flirtatious behavior would be problematic and backfire.

“One of the girls really got his attention, and they flirted while he was supposed to be working and serving the other guests as well.”

“As usual.” I rolled my eyes.

“Some time passed and the other girls went dancing, while Don Juan started to get sensual with the girl. Man, that was a flirt on another level! I snapped at him to serve the other customers as well, and he was like: ‘Okay, okay,’  then mixed a shitty Whisky-Coke and gave it to a guy who ordered something else. Of course he complained, but I told him not to worry, and I would prepare his Vodka Martini. While Dávid and I were working our asses off, he somehow disappeared. We noticed it when another customer came up to us and asked where the womanizer was, because she had ordered her Piña Colada quite a long time ago and hadn’t received it yet. I promised to take care of it, and prepared it quickly. Dávid then offered to prepare the upcoming orders, and told me to find Dominik, because if he were the one to find him, he would beat him up.”

“Quite understandable,” I added and then let her continue.

“I started to search for him in the bathrooms, but I didn’t find him there. I went out to the trash bins, but he wasn’t there either. Then I started to hear some weird noises around the cleaning storage room. I opened the door and I saw Dominik with this chick, who was… seducing him.” Viktória grinned with pure disgust, and I was sure that my facial expressions looked exactly the same.

“Then the girl looked up, wasted as hell, and jumped on me, yelling. ‘Orgy, yaaasss!’ and I pushed her out of the storage room, and dragged Dominik out all the way to the counter. When Dávid saw him, he was gazing at him with rage. Luckily, the majority of the guests had already left, so we could go to the secretary’s office. Then both Dávid and I yelled at Dominik for being such a…”

I was shocked. I knew that my nephew was a womanizer, but this time he took it way too far.

“And it’s not the end of the story,” Anna added.

“Yeah,” Viktória continued. “The chick who seduced Dominik was so wasted that I think she wasn’t even completely conscious. Her pupils were as big as a tennis ball, so she might have been on something harder than her Long Island Iced Tea.”

I was petrified. The fact that my nephew might have drugged someone…and then taken advantage of her…Even thinking something like that felt absurd, and made my blood boil. In my bar, the guests shouldn’t worry about the danger of being drugged or taken advantage of. The fact that Domi had done this felt like a betrayal and a stab in the gut.

“After this incident we called a taxi for the girl. And now, it turned out that she reported him to the police and threatened to ruin our reputation and make us bankrupt. And guess what Dávid told us today: the girl was the niece of one of the richest men in town…”

I slapped myself on my forehead. This stupid little womanizer! How could anyone with the right mind do something like this? I thanked the girls for their time, and let them go home. When they had left, I drove home and poured myself a glass of Scotch. I had to digest what I’d heard. I knew I had to talk with him as well. Right now, not only was the reputation of my nephew in danger, but I could lose my source of income if this girl decided to use her status.

Two days later, while still feeling clumsy, I went to visit my nephew at the police station. The officers were a bit more friendly but still didn’t seem to hide their dirty looks.

I sat down in front of my nephew, who looked devastated.

“ Congratulations, Don Juan! You could have avoided everything, if you had kept that thing in your pants!” I snapped at him, furiously.

“But…She offered it…” he tried to defend himself, while being extremely confused.

“SHE WAS WASTED, YOU GODDAMN IDIOT!” I yelled at him “You took advantage of her, IN YOUR WORKPLACE! IN PUBLIC!”

“But…I gave her only one Long Island Iced Tea… she seemed to be very…conscious…She was just smiling a bit more…”

“Not everyone has the same alcohol tolerance, you fool!” I almost exploded from anger. “How could you?”

“She offered to s…seduce me in the cleaning storage!” he cried out “I was just a bit flirtatious, but she seemed to like it, so I continued. But I didn’t want to have sex with her! At least not like that…She told me that she hadn’t had any money with her, but she would have sex with me as payment…” he slouched his head, almost at the edge of crying.

“SHE OFFERED TO HAVE SEX INSTEAD OF PAYMENT? HOW COULD YOU BELIEVE SUCH A BULLSHIT???” I yelled at him so loud that the officers and the inmates turned in our direction. Therefore I took a bit back and continued quietly:

“Viki told me that the girl was wasted and had big pupils. Did you put anything in her cocktail?” I asked, still angry, but trying to be more objective and understanding. After all, he is my nephew. I organized all of his birthday parties when he was little. I helped him get down from the trees, when he had stuck. I loved him dearly, but what he had done made me furious and disappointed…How will I tell his mother that her son got into something like this?

“Me? I would NEVER!” he burst out in tears. “She already had big pupils when she got to the bar. I thought it was some kind of contact lens, for God’s sake!”

“Did you tell this to the officers as well? “

“Yes.” he answered with a strutting voice. “This is the truth. I would never drug anybody!”

“Mr. Lévay!” an officer interrupted, “ We’ve been ordered to inform you that since your nephew is still a minor, he won’t go to jail.”

“But what about the assault charges? Are they being dropped?” I was relieved but I knew it didn’t end there.

“Yeah, about that…” the officer continued. “Since he is a minor, and the woman was not, he couldn’t give consent legally, therefore, according to the law, he couldn’t “rape” her.  However, if she upholds her charges, your nephew either has to spend three months in a correctional institution or you can sue her for sexually assaulting and grooming a minor.”

I thanked the officer and nodded. I looked at my nephew when we were alone again.

“You’ve heard your options. So now what? “ I asked him.

“You are the adult…You tell me!” Dominik groaned.

“Well, since you managed to dally with the niece of a millionaire in public, you wouldn’t stand a chance in winning that trial,” I answered.

“But I’m still a minor! I don’t want to go to a correction center!” my nephew cried out.

“You should have thought about this earlier, Champ.” I shrugged my shoulders. “You know, before letting that chick seduce you in the cleaning storage.”

“She offered to do it as payment…”

“Life is not like a porn movie you dumbass…” I sighed. This idiot still wasn’t aware of what he had done and what consequences he could’ve faced if he had been over eighteen years old.

“But you can be my witness! Or Viki…Or Anna…” he begged, but I shook my head.

“I wasn’t present. And about the others…I highly doubt that any of them would be on your side. You were a disgraceful co-worker and employee.”

Dominik slouched his head.

“Don’t do the puppy eyes now!” I snapped. “I’m not going to pity you.”

“Excuse me, sir!” one officer interrupted. “Your visit time has ended. Please, leave the room!”

“I called your parents yesterday. They are coming to you tomorrow.” I stroked his shoulders, and left.

 I never thought that I would ever end up in such a situation. After some bureaucratic intervention, since he hadn’t had previous problems with the police, he was let go, and only got a “black point” on his ID for “indecent exposure in public”. I was relieved that he got off easy, but worried at the same time. Was that warning enough? Should I have let the boy be locked up in a correctional center, so he would learn this lesson? Or would it have been too harsh as a punishment? I only had unanswered questions in my mind. My self-conscious side was telling me that my nephew got slapped back to humility, but my other side tried to convince me that he would do the same thing again. The boy desperately needed the summer job, but I couldn’t help it: instead of the joyful little boy who scraped his knees after falling down from the trees and always greeted me with a wide smile, I saw this menace, who was irresponsible and untrustworthy in terms of work. His parents tried to convince me to let him come back to work, because he had changed, I hesitated. His colleagues despised him. It would have been backstabbing for them if I let him in again. Who cares, he is family, right? This choice wasn’t as easy to make as people might think. But if I let him come back, my employees, who are passionate about their jobs and work hard, would quit, because of me being unjust. My heart ached for giving him the sack, but I knew I made the right decision. Even if I had been stabbed in the back, I couldn’t do the same to the others.

The Missing Piece

Lilla Kassai

“Sarah, do you think that this is a good idea?”  whispered Lucy while sneaking up to the old mansion at the edge of town. It was already late at night, and the wind started to blow wilder and wilder. According to the weather forecast a thunderstorm was on its way.

“Oh come on Lucy! Are you scared?” Sarah peered back at the new girl teasingly. “Bates Morde is just a fiction. It won’t bother anyone if he gets bullied.” She shrugged her shoulders and continued “Anyway, if you want to be accepted at school, you have to get this done, Newbie.”

Lucy felt her heart beating faster as they approached the old mansion surrounded by bushes and trees that almost made it impossible for the sunlight to catch sight of the garden and the entrance gate. The house looked like a typical haunted house of a small town: it was built in Victorian style, and painted black originally, but on some parts of the facade, huge parts of the paint had fallen off, revealing the red bricks. Some of the windows were boarded up or just broken, and everything was covered in rubble and dust.

“Now New Girl, climb in, take something with you, then come back and run home.” Sarah gave the instructions and peered at Lucy defiantly.

“Okay,” she answered while pulling herself up to the window sill. “I’ll be back in a few minutes. Wait for me, okay?” she murmured back to Sarah as she carefully climbed inside.

She found herself in the kitchen of the house. She saw an old-fashioned stove and furnace and a few wooden kitchen cabinets. Lucy could not resist the urge to run her fingers through the ghost-cold furniture while slowly walking outside the kitchen to the long dark hall. She lit her lighter to see where she was going, but at the same time avoided being easily seen. She was walking close up to the wall, while often throwing a glance behind her back. After a few more steps, she found herself in a big salon. There weren’t many things there besides an old piano (“This looks way more beautiful than ours”), some mice-chewed furniture, and bird feathers on the floor. She cautiously stepped into the salon. Even if she thought the house was spooky, she got enchanted by it.

“So majestic and mystical…How could someone let this happen to this beautiful house?” she mumbled to herself while running her fingers though the piano and trying not to make any noise while stepping on some sheet music papers that laid all over the floor in a mess. She was fighting the urge to press some keys on the piano, when she heard a roaring thunder and the howl of the wind. She immediately became more alarmed. As her wonder towards the house quickly became suppressed, she realized why she was actually in that spooky mansion. She immediately tried to look for something she could take with herself as a trophy. She was running her eyes all over the salon, when she heard some unnatural hissing sound. She sprinted across the room and hid behind a curtain and a table with some weird three-dimensional puzzle on it. She wanted to examine it briefly, when the hissing became lounder, and a tall figure appeared in the entrance of the salon, in the exact same place where she had stood a few minutes earlier. The tall thing walked to the piano as quietly and elegantly as a cat. As it came closer and closer to Lucy’s hiding spot, she was able to examine him, but not so briefly. She could discern that the tall figure was a man with extremely pale skin and darker hair than the longest night in December. He sat down at the piano and started to play like a virtuose. Lucy was amazed and almost revealed herself before Bates Morde. While he was playing, she reached out to the 3D puzzle on the table that consisted of tiny sculptures of monsters. She cautiously grabbed one that looked like some gnome, and started to look for escape routes. Unfortunately, the only way was behind the back of the pianist’s, who was playing the Blue Danube Waltz with lots of movement and emotions.

“If I walk quietly enough, he won’t notice me…” she hoped, then slowly crawled out of her hiding spot and started to beetle towards the hall.  When she was almost there, the piano stopped.  She was terrified of the sudden silence, when a suave voice spoke:

“You better put that thing down, Honey! Your friends have stolen lots of my stuff, and I am not fond of your little pranks.”

“Shut up, you freak!” Lucy murmured in terror, and started to run. She heard the weird hissing behind her back, so she sped up. After getting back into the kitchen, she looked out the window, yelling.

“Sarah, I have it!”

Then she realized that Sarah wasn’t there. She had left her alone in the haunted house, after making her steal from a creepy man that was said to have lived in that house for more than 100 years, but still looked young. After hearing the mysterious hissing and now even footsteps, Lucy jumped out the window. After landing, she looped one, stood up and ran out of the estate, while the wind was howling into her ears.

She stopped running after she reached the street where she had moved with her family a few weeks ago. She had been attending the local high school only for one and a half weeks, so she had hardly had any chance to get to know her fellow students. And now, the meanest of the popular girls had played a very awful prank on her. What if she later reported her to the police for stealing from Morde? And if that happened, would anyone believe her, if she said that it was Sarah’s idea?

While she was trying to organize her thoughts, it started to rain heavily, and Lucy was drenched by the time she reached her home.

She went straight to her bedroom to change. Both of her parents were now asleep, so she didn’t want to wake them up. After closing her door, she sat down at the floor, took the goblin-like toy out of her pocket, and tried to examine it. It was a small little green figure, around 5 centimeters tall and roughly carved.

“I have to hide this somewhere,” she mumbled to herself, and then put the toy under a loose floorboard. She then wanted to put on her pajamas, but a loud thunder and lightning startled her. Then she felt shivers on her spine, because she heard the Blue Danube Waltz being played on their piano. She peered out her door, while her parents also came out from their room, confused.

“ Lucy, what is happening here?” her mother yawned.

“Sweety, I thought you had started to play, but if it’s not you, then who?” Her father was worried.

Lucy had an idea, but it seemed way too absurd.

“It can’t be him, can it?” she thought, and then the family carefully beetled towards the living room, where they saw a tall, dark-haired figure playing. As they approached, the music stopped. The Father switched on the lights, so they were able to see who this mysterious figure was.

“Sir, I order you to leave my house right now!“ thundered the Father, but the man just rotated himself on the piano chair, so Lucy was able to examine his face briefly. He had fair skin and big dark eyes. His slender face was framed by his shoulder-length hair, which was as black as a ravens’ feathers. And the most surprising thing was that he didn’t look older than 23.

“I’m afraid, it’s impossible until this lovely young lady gives back what she stole from me,” answered Morde with his suave voice.

“Lucy, what is this man talking about?” her mother asked, concerned. Lucy knew that she had to lie.

“Lucy, I know, you wouldn’t steal from anyone, right?” Her father looked at her, confused. “It’s not how we raised you.”

    “No, Dad” she murmured, then continued, “I don’t know what he is talking about…I…I don’t even know who he is…” Lucy started to panic.

“Oh, if that’s the case, pleased to meet you, I am Bates Morde,“ he snapped. “ Now give me that goblin back, and I promise not to hurt anyone.”

“Goblin? What Goblin? Lucy, have you done something?” the father started to get angry.

“No Dad, I don’t even know what he is talking about!” Lucy cried, acting like she didn’t steal that figure, but in reality, she was extremely terrified.

“Well, you have chosen the hard way,” Morde said calmly, then stood up. He opened his fist, revealing the other five figures Lucy had seen on that table. He blew them and they turned into dust as the lightning struck a tree nearby. Then he simply walked out of the house. After he left, the parents turned to Lucy.

“Explain it! Now!” the father demanded.

“You said that you were with Sarah. Is it true?” the mother asked.

“Yes, I was.” Lucy answered, shivering. Technically, she was with Sarah. Except that she had left her alone in a creepy mansion with this Bates Morde chasing her, and now demanding that weird toy back, like some six-year-old kid. “But we haven’t done anything. Actually she turned out to be an asshole,” she continued. She was mad at Sarah. She had betrayed her, and Lucy was sure that she would be made fun of. Awful prank, really.

“We believe you, and we hope that you are telling the truth.” The parents shut down the conversation, and everyone went back to sleep. Still, Lucy was only able to lie and gaze at the ceiling.

Suddenly she saw a long shadow, forming into some anthropomorphic shape, reaching out with its hand towards her. She froze; she couldn’t believe what she was witnessing. She seized her blanket above her head and curled up under it. She spent the rest of the night shivering.

The next day on her way to school, she observed something very strange. A huge amount of crows were sitting on the roof of the school, and it seemed as if all of them were watching her. The millions of black bird-eyes were staring at her very soul, and while looking at the birds, she felt as if she were standing face-to-face with Morde. “You have chosen the hard way.” This sentence haunted her all day. And with more and more crows appearing on the school grounds, she started to have a bad premonition.

After entering the school, the popular gang of Sarah and some football players came up to her.

“So, New Girl, did you bring anything from that freak’s house?” Sarah asked, which made Lucy lose her temper.

“OF COURSE, BUT YOU LEFT ME ALONE THERE WITH THAT CREEPY PIANO-VIRTUOSO!” she snapped. “You promised to wait for me, but you left! How dare you?”

 “Chill girl, I had to go.” Sarah put her hands up in defense. “Now come and we will show you the Gallery of the Brave, where we store those objects we seized from Morde.”

They led Lucy to a locker, which was full of old objects that could be found in the Morde-Mansion: old forks, spoons and knives, a sheet of paper torn out from a musical collection, a piece of broken mirror, and so on.

“Wow…” Lucy gasped. “You guys really take this bravery test seriously.”

“Of course,” a football player answered. “Bates Morde is only a legend anyway. The parents use him to scare little kids”

“But…I saw him…and talked to him…” Lucy quickly got confused.

“Oh New Girl, don’t be silly!” Sarah waved, relaxed. “Everyone knows that Morde is just a tale.”

After this conversation, the gang went to the same class, where none of them really paid attention. Sarah was painting her nails, and the football players were whispering about the new training techniques. Lucy on the other hand, always had a mysterious and unexplainable feeling that she was being watched.

During class, the teacher opened a window, and right after that, a crow flew inside the classroom. It distracted everyone from the lesson for a moment, but they could still concentrate. But then more and more birds flew in and started to harass the students. They tweaked their hands, pooped on their desks and crowed aggressively at them. One of the football players had just been tweaked by a crow, and he hit the bird with his book. Suddenly, all the other birds turned to him. They flew to his desk, grabbed his clothes with their small legs, and seized him out of the window. As the menagerie of crows was tossing the football player in the air above the ground, the birds seemed to melt into a big man-like silhouette with wings, giant hands and legs. After playing enough with the footballer, the creature dropped the boy down from a four-meter height. The teacher quickly called the ambulance, where they said that the boy had suffered serious injuries and would be paralyzed down from the waist.

“How unfortunate… He was a douche, though” commented a familiar suave voice to Sarah. “ But you chose to play with the fire”

Lucy froze. She looked to the direction of the voice. Sarah snapped.


“Well, I think you already know it, Honey,”  Morde answered in a bored tone.

“Sarah…He is…” Lucy gasped, pointing at the man in terror.

“Oh you, don’t spoil it for her, darling, please.” Morde pushed his chalk-white pointing finger onto Lucy’s mouth, making her keep quiet. Lucy was paraéyzed and petrified. She still managed to squeeze out a few words.

“He is…Morde…”

“Oh, come on!” the man snapped. “I think it was obvious to her!”

Lucy couldn’t be more confused. This man, who wasn’t even a human, lived in a haunted house and was the embodiment of pure evil, acted like a complete Hollywood buffoon.

“MORDE? WHAT?” Sarah was getting nervous. “Bates Morde is just fictional! His story is used to scare children. MORDE IS NOT REAL, NEW GIRL, DON’T BE SUCH AN IDIOT!”

“There is no need for this tone. I am very real.” Morde looked down at Sarah and Lucy, trying to show superiority. “And I can play the piano too. Your charming thief-friend was able to hear me play twice.”

 Sarah gasped.

“This can’t be real…you are not real!”

“Well, I certainly am. And I am fed up with you and your stupid friends stealing my possessions for fun. So give me back my things, and no one will get hurt next time.” Morde yawned as if he had been taking part in boring small-talk.

“Pff, get lost!” Sarah yelled and ran away, leaving Lucy with Morde again.

“You’ve got yourself a nice friend, eh?” he asked cynically. “I don’t think she would ever get your back. Choose your friends more wisely! Both of you chose the hard way. Now live with that,” he mumbled to Lucy, then disappeared in the shadows.

The following week, hardly any students could sleep. The corridor hummed with friends telling each other about the scary shadows they had been seeing in their rooms recently.

“It looked like some man with wings, but he was made out of birds…”

“That thing looked like a vulture, but with a human body. It was watching me from the window…”

“I have been hearing footsteps all night, but there was nothing. And somebody was murmuring and laughing all along.”

The hey-day of the week was when another football player disappeared with his cheerleader girlfriend. The most spooky factor was that the couple was spending the night together at the girl’s house, and they found stretch marks on the floor next to the bed.

Everyone was wondering what was happening. More and more people were thinking about the legend they had been told about a boy who was a wizard, but everyone was hurting him. So he decided to surround himself with magical creatures and monsters, who would defend him and hurt all those people who bullied him. This boy was Bates Morde.

“Sarah, what happened to you?” Lucy asked one morning in the school after seeing her friend becoming extremely paranoid. She was always looking for Morde while holding a cross.

“He was at my place, Lucy,” she murmured “I saw him. He was standing at my door. and lately, some clown-like creature has been following me. Am I going mad, Lucy?” she panicked.

“No, you’re not,” whispered Lucy. “I have also been very high strung for a very long time. Maybe we should not have stolen from him…”

“That is bullshit, Lucy! This Morde is just some loser, virgin boy, whose pranks were always lame, and he could not comprehend it,” she snapped, but immediately cast a glance backward, looking for Morde.

As the days passed, everyone became more and more paranoid. They had been seeing things that should not have been. More and more started to suffer from insomnia, or extreme anxiety. A few days later, a couple was found dead after committing a dual suicide. They couldn’t bear that much fear and panic attacks. And while all these things were happening, Bates Morde was just playing piano in his mansion, while letting his monster-menagerie make mischief across the town.

“You have chosen the hard way. Now live with it!”

Meanwhile in the school, the lights suddenly went out. The teacher was standing at the blackboard, when the surface suddenly became liquid, and a hand reached out from the liquified board, grabbing the teacher by his neck, dragging him into the dark liquid. In other classrooms, the doors of the cabinets flew wide open and long shadows started to reach out from them, grabbing students and teachers, who then disappeared in the cabinets filled with school excipients.The school was overflowing with screams. The students and the teachers started to run away, hurtling, pushing each other to the ground and trampling on the poor kids.

“Sarah!” Lucy shouted in the fleeing crowd “We have to bring all the stuff back to Morde! He is a freaking psycho!”

“I won’t go to that place again!” she yelled back. Then she followed the crowd.

“Fine!” Lucy murmured and lurched through the crowd. She managed to find the locker, a.k.a. the Gallery of the Brave. But there was only one problem: she couldn’t open it. She had no keys for it, nor did she know the passing code. She grabbed her school bag and started to smash it on the locker, but she was too weak to do any serious damage. Her problems increased when a bunch of thirty-centimeter-tall dwarves appeared with pickaxes that they were using to smash the fleeing people’s feet, luckily with hardly any success. Lucy tried to seize a pickaxe from one dwarf, but the little thing was extremely attached to his pickaxe, so she slammed the creature at the locker, then started to smash the lock with her newly seized tool.

After managing to open the locker, she started to empty her bag and put all of the repository of the Gallery of the Brave in it. She managed to fit everything in, and even if the bag was heavy, she managed to move easily with it. She avoided the fleeing crowd by jumping out the first floor window, but the landing wasn’t the most comfortable for her feet.

Still, Lucy stood up, and hurried up to the old mansion. She barged into the building, heaving heavily.

“Hey!…huhh.. Morde!” she shouted “You psycho, here are your useless toys!”

There was no answer.

“Heeeeey! Can you hear me, you toy-freak pianist?” she continuously yelled, but it seemed that the owner couldn’t hear her.

“HEEEEEY MOOOOOOOORDE!!!!!!!! WHERE ARE YOU?” Lucy became more and more angry, and she started to march all over the house.

“DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE GOT HURT BECAUSE OF YOU? YOU ENTITLED BRAT!!” as she walked towards the piano salon, she didn’t feel any fear of Bates Morde. She was furious and desoled.


While approaching the salon, she heard fragments of sounds resembling the Moonlight Sonata. Lucy found Morde at the piano playing.

“Oh, here you are, you son of a…”

“Please don’t say it,” Morde interrupted. “These people made my house end up like this. They vandalized it, they destroyed my home, and when I gave them the chance to apologize and give back what they took from me, they denied it. You denied it as well, Alicia Rockwell. Why are you so surprised now?”

“Look…” Lucy started. “I have brought everything back to you. All your stupid toys. Just stop what you are doing! People died because of your hysteria!” She didn’t want to, but she started to beg. “Please…stop this madness!”

Morde stood up from the piano and walked up to Lucy, whose heart was beating so fast that it almost exploded.

“Deal,” he grinned, then took away her backpack. He started to toss the pieces of the Gallery of the Brave, and in the end, he was holding the gnome-like figure that Lucy stole from him.

“See? If I put all of these figures on this table, the monsters won’t hurt anybody. They are just parts of a puzzle here. Only I can bring them to life and let them make mischief. Now, everything has stopped. Don’t provoke me to use them again. Now you may leave my house!” he groaned.

Lucy ran away from that place as fast as she could. She didn’t look back. She just hoped that Bates Morde would stick to his promise, and wouldn’t let his menagerie free again. Or that there wouldn’t be any more adventurous teens, who would steal his beloved knickknacks for fun or to prove how brave they were.

Letter from the Editor

Folyosó is now three years old. The class that inspired it has just graduated; the pandemic, which gave it its initial urgency, has subsided, at least for now. What is Folyosó for, and why does it continue? I usually answer that it means a lot to students at Varga and beyond; that it gives them a place to write for an actual readership; and that it provides a forum for a range of forms, themes, ideas, and turns of phrase.

All of this remains true, but there is more. First, it comes as a joyous surprise when students submit pieces on their own initiative: that is, not within the context of an assignment. Several prolific contributors, including Áron Antal and Lilla Kassai, have kept Folyosó richly inhabited over the past few years. Last autumn, Milán Galics submitted his poem “Season of Death,” which deserves many rereadings. This time, the independent submission comes from Zalán Nagykovácsi, whose poem “Silent Reflection” is featured at the top of the Spring 2023 issue. This introspective, meditative poem drew me in with its rhythm and sound, its mood, and its rhymes that lead into surprises of meaning.

Second, the journal is closely connected with our study of literature. Whether directly or indirectly, the writings draw on influences from Shakespeare to Faulkner. Literature in English language class need not be an afterthought or frill; it is through literature that students encounter the possibilities of language: fresh expression, wit, risks of form, and something that matters, something that must be said.

This year, one of my classes read and discussed Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “The Fish,” which begins, “I caught a tremendous fish” and ends “And I let the fish go.” We looked closely at the words, the detailed vocabulary, to figure out how the poem moves from the starting point to the end point. Toward the end of this discussion, we compared the poem with Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo” (in the translation of Stephen Mitchell). The whole discussion went well; I was just starting to wrap things up when a student raised her hand. She had more to say. She pointed out that in Rilke’s poem, the speaker perceives the beauty of the torso right away, whereas in “The Fish,” the perception of beauty comes slowly, and eventually becomes so overwhelming and complete that when the speaker lets the fish go, it is with no regrets.

It is not only that kind of insight, but also that kind of urgency—having something to say even after class is technically over—that keeps Folyosó going. Even when these discussions do not end up in Folyosó, they are in the air, and something about them will wend its way here.

In his Nobel Banquet speech, delivered in 1950, William Faulkner speaks of “the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself,” which, according to him, are the only things worth writing about, the only things that can make good writing. Anything else lacks urgency, according to Faulkner; anything else skims the surface. My students in Class 12.C read and discussed this speech in one of our last lessons together. We spoke of “the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.” The last concept, sacrifice, has particular meaning for students, since they know well that no matter what anyone says, it is impossible to have or do everything. At some point one thing must be given up for another. Our sacrifices shape us and take place even when we don’t see them. Even setting words on paper or the screen involves sacrifice, since one thing must be said instead of another.

Even so, worthy writing can do something other than contend with universal truths: for instance, it might play. Play itself could be a universal truth, but by it tosses such dictums in the air. Play can relax and stretch our formulas, our sense of what must be. Its fun needs no justification. Folyosó’s playfulness has brought cheer and liveliness to many a day.

The writings in Folyosó come from students trying out their style and ideas in a foreign language. For this very reason, they make for meaningful reading: here are young writers finding their way, sometimes to their own surprise. We are fortunate to have many talented contributors not only from the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, but also from the Lycée Sainte Pulchérie in Istanbul and (on one occasion) Columbia Secondary School in New York City; their writing has been featured in our international contests.

The next issue will come out in November 2023—with the results of our new international contest, the theme and rules of which will be announced in September. Until then, we wish you good reading. Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at diana.senechal at vargaszolnok dot hu.


Diana Senechal
Founder and Editor of Folyosó

Issue 4:1 (Spring 2023)

Welcome to the Spring 2023 issue of Folyosó, and happy third birthday to the journal! This issue—with cover art by Emese Kassai— features poetry, stories, monologues, and more. We welcome your readership!

The class that inspired Folyosó during the pandemic—this year’s Class 12.C—is now graduating; a number of pieces are by members of this class. Thank you, 12.C students, for your many contributions to Folyosó over the past few years.

Letter from the Editor


Reflections (fiction and nonfiction combined)


A Few Treasures from the Archives

Submit to the Autumn 2023 issue!

Cover art: Emese Kassai.

All of the contributors to this issue are students of the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. In the archives selection, all contributors are from Varga except for Roza Kaplan and Fatma Irmak Tuncel (Lycée Sainte Pulchérie, Istanbul). The Autumn 2023 issue will once again feature our annual International Contest.

Can You Draw Faster, Picasso?

Lilla Kassai

“Good morning, class!”

“Good morning, Mrs. Calloway!”  The art students greeted the teacher with a tired and bored groan. It was their last lesson, and it was  Friday.

“So today, you are going to make sketches and studies of the music students. They will be posing as if they were playing their instruments.“

Most of the students rolled their eyes, but a few of them seemed to be interested. It was a rare opportunity to draw models in these special positions.

Mike really looked forward to this task. He was very passionate about drawing and fine arts, so he quickly became enthusiastic. He sat down in front of a girl who was gazing at the piano while gently moving her fingers on the keys.

“Hey!“ he greeted the girl awkwardly “So… Do you mind me drawing you? Especially your hands…” he added, staring at the girl’s snow-white hands and long, slim fingers.

“Ehm…Okay,“ she answered, a bit confused. “How should I pose, then?” she asked in a soft tone, blinking innocently at Mike with her big brown eyes behind her glasses.

The boy lost connection to reality for a few seconds. He peered at the girl’s face, carefully examining every curve.

“So… why don’t you place your hand like this?” he stuttered while trying to place the girl’s fingers on the piano keys.

 “Because if I hit the keys, it would sound awful,”  she giggled, then moved her hands into another position, then pressed the keys of the F major chord. Mike immediately felt a light pressure in his chest from this small scenario.

 “Young man, it would be a pleasure if you would start working instead of eyeballing with your model,” Mrs. Calloway snapped at Mike in a bored and sarcastic tone, then continued to walk in between the desks and give explanatory speeches on sketching human bodies. Meanwhile, Mike’s face started to turn bright red even from looking at the pianist girl, who seemed to be getting bored and started to play Für Elise quietly.

 “Ehm.. would you remain in this position?“ he murmured, looking like a mellow tomato.

“Okay,” she said and froze. “Am I sitting correctly?”

“Yeeess,” squeaked Mike, then he started to sketch. Even if his model was trying her best to remain motionless, he still had difficulties focusing on his task, so it happened quite frequently that he caught himself gazing at her. Therefore, he wasn’t really fast at completing his sketch, while the girl was trying her best to sit motionless. It might be thought that modelling for artists is easy, but that wasn’t the case. She could hardly resist the urge to run her fingers through the keys. Moreover, her back and her neck were getting sore from sitting in the same position for half an hour. Her fingers started to cramp from holding them tightly above the piano. After another thirty minutes, she tried to loosen up a bit and stretch her sore limbs.

“Don’t move!” Mike snapped.

“But my fingers are sore,” the girl groaned, trying to peer into Mike’s sketches. When she saw that there were barely any lines and only a few simple shapes on the paper, she was about to freak out.

“Man, what have you done in the past hour?” she burst out in anger, after throwing a glimpse at the other student’s studies of their models.

“I told you not to move.” Mike’s sky-blue eyes flashed in a mixture of panic and anger. When the girl yelled at him, he got scared and accidentally drew a thick black line across the paper that interfered with the sketch of the piano “Now you won’t sit in the same position again. How the hell will I be able to draw studies of you like this?” he shouted.

“I don’t know, you should have made up your mind an hour ago!”  the girl grumbled in displeasure. Then she sat back in the same position, after receiving a dirty look from Mrs. Calloway.

“Tilt your head a bit more downwards,” Mike pouted, and positioned the girl’s head and finger to the starting pose.

“Fine…” she murmured annoyedly and tried to remain in the position for another hour.

Eventually the girl lost control over her fingers and started to play Für Elise again.

“He isn’t even drawing. He is so slow, I don’t think he made any progress in the past hour either” she was saying to herself, when Mike yelled at her unexpectedly:


“First of all,” she snapped, “I played Beethoven. Secondly, my limbs are experiencing cramps and my fingers hurt. Can you draw faster, Picasso?”

 Mike was about to say something back, when he saw Mrs. Calloway staring at him, looking like she was about to throw both him and the girl out the window. He completed his task quietly, then secretly took a photo of the girl in the modelling position.

When the bell rang, the models could finally relax.

“So how did you manage, Picasso?” the pianist girl thrusted, walking up to Mike’s desk to check out what he had drawn. When she saw his picture, her jaw dropped.  The sketch looked very similar to reality: anyone could tell right away that she was the one Mike had drawn.

“Wow,” she gasped. “Perhaps, I underestimated you…Picasso,” she added with a soft, shy giggle.

“You sure did.” Mike grinned at her, his anger gone. “Mozart,” he added.

“I told you, I was playing Beethoven, silly!” The girl rolled her eyes, then started to pack her stuff.

“It’s all the same to me.” Mike shrugged his shoulders and gave his drawing to Mrs. Calloway. Then he looked back at the girl.

“You play beautifully, you know,” he complimented awkwardly, while his face slowly turned red.

“Thank you.” The girl smiled, blushing. “Anyway, I gotta go practice. Catch me later!” She waved goodbye, smiling.

Mike remained standing still, his face red. Even if he was annoyed by this girl while making a portrait of her, he couldn’t stay mad at her or get her out of his mind. On his way home, he plugged his headphones into his phone, let the music play into his ears, and murmured the lyrics, a soft smile slowly growing on his face:

“I’ll cross the world for green and gold
But it’s those Spanish eyes
That get me home… home again.”

(Quote: U2: Spanish Eyes)

Issue 3:2 (Autumn 2022)

Welcome to the Autumn 2022 issue of Folyosó! This issue—with cover art by Emese Kassai— features a double-themed international contest, along with a range of poems, essays, and stories, serious and light. We welcome your readership!

Letter from the Editor

Third International Contest

This year’s international contest had two distinct themes: connections between the arts, and social criticism. We proudly announce the winners:

Connections Between the Arts

Social Criticism

Congratulations to all! Folyosó continues below with its regular and irregular features.




Stories of States and Travel

Submit to the Spring 2023 issue!

Cover art: Emese Kassai, A sárkányok kertje (Garden of the Dragons).

All of the contributors are students of the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary, except for the following six, who attend the Lycée Sainte Pulchérie in Istanbul: Selin Rana Özkarahan, Fatma Irmak Tuncel, Ezgi Yılmaztekin, Ela Kazandağ, Joshua Robles, and Kaya Tunçer.


Lilla Kassai

A Magical Ball

Lilla Kassai

Hamlet Sr. and Claudius

Lilla Kassai

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