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Danse Macabre

Lilla Kassai

Ivory Mars had been a widow for a long time. Her husband, Michael, had died three years ago at the age of ninety-seven, in his sleep. Well, many people would say, three years isn’t so long, but for Ivory, every day without him was torture. She felt an emptiness growing in her day by day. She became numb because she couldn’t feel her beloved next to her.

Still, she was smiling every time she walked in the garden of their mansion. It was built in 1947, after the war, from the remained ruins of the house, which had been destroyed by German bombs. They built their new house together; it had cost plenty of time and energy, but they made it through.

The mansion was located at the furthest corner of the little town, halfway in the pinewoods. It was painted black on the outside and had a round window on the second floor, facing the street. Whoever walked past their home would start to walk faster immediately. At first glance it seemed like a home of demons and monsters, but Mr. and Mrs. Mars were neither evil nor unfriendly. They had their own style, which kept the weak people away.

Mrs. Mars walked out to the garden. It was her favourite place: the grass was dark green, and every morning it was glistening with water drops. Behind the house was an enormous rose arbor filled with black roses. She smiled every time she peeked at the big, fragrant flowers. She breathed in the air filled with the smell of the roses and sat herself down on the bank under the arbor. The bank was guarded by two gargoyles, which had been sculpted by her husband. Ivory stroked their heads, knowing that her beloved had worked on them from morning to night, to surprise her on her birthday. She wanted to be with him, feel his strong arms around her, while cuddling, listening to his heartbeat, and kissing him passionately.

These were her everyday thoughts, even on the thirty-first of October. The black roses and the deep purple petunias were no longer  blooming. It was autumn; nature was preparing for winter, The leaves of the trees turned brown, red and yellow, and started to fall from the branches. In the window of multiple houses, Jack-O-Lanterns appeared. It was Halloween, Mr. and Mrs. Mars’ favourite holiday. They loved to carve pumpkins together, and always awaited the kids with plenty of sweets and candies, but they never went trick-or-treating.

That day, Ivory Mars was decorating the house with stone skulls, in which she put candles. She put them into the windows. She put up the little lights through the rose arbor, and lit candles in the gargoyles’ mouths. Her garden looked like the meadow of Asphodel. It had a special, underworldly, dark beauty.

“So many people are living in the light, under the sunshine, and now they have forgotten how beautiful the darkness can be… It’s not the same beauty that you see in everyday life.  Oh, my beautiful man… How many times did we dance in the moonlight or in the rain under this arbor… How I wish you were here….” she teared up, and smiled. “Don’t worry, my One And Only… You don’t have to wait long now… We’ll reunite soon….” she mumbled, and then lit a candle next to a painting she had made after Michael Mars came back from the war. They were young, happy and crazy in love.

“Happy birthday, My Dearest!” she bellowed and then sat in the window, scrolling the pages of the photo album, where they had put the pictures of their life.

Around midnight, she heard a soft knock on her door. She slowly rose and went to open it. In the door, a strange man stood in a black coat. Ivory couldn’t see his face. The cold October wind was howling, the branches were creaking, and there was no sign of anyone else in the street. Then there was dead silence.

“Sorry Mister, can I help you?“ asked the old lady, shivering in her clothes.

“Yes please,” said the stranger, but his voice made Ivory tear up again. She would recognise this voice anytime. She gasped and was able to speak only a minute later.

“Mi…Michael?” she started to cry.

“Yes, my Love,” answered Mr. Mars in a low, soft voice. “May I come in?”

Ivory could only nod, and moved away from the door. After her husband entered, she closed it and followed him into the living room. When Michael saw the painting of them, he smiled with tears in his eyes.

“I knew you’d never forget…” he mumbled. “May I ask you to honour me with a dance?”

Ivory was sobbing. She nodded and held her beloved’s hand. It was real, and then they stepped out to the garden. When Ivory saw what the garden looked like, she couldn’t do more than blink. The roses were blooming like never before, the spiderwebs were sparkling in the dark, and the fireflies, bats and owls were flying in every direction of the garden, or just resting on the roof, gazing at the couple.  But that wasn’t the most surprising thing: Ivory started to feel different, and as she threw a peek at her beloved, and herself, she almost fainted. She became twenty-three years old again. She got back her short, raven black hair and her slender but curvy figure. She wore the same long, black dress that she had worn long ago, as they celebrated the end of the war together.

Michael became young too. His short, dark brown hair and muscular figure made him look twenty-five again. He wore the same black suit and his army coat that he had worn that time. He held Ivory’s hand, and they started to waltz.

“I missed you so much, my Beloved,” said Mr. Mars, hugging his wife tight to his chest.

“Me too,” cried Ivory. “Promise me you won’t leave me alone again!”

“I promise you, Darling,” whispered Michael into her ear, and started to sing.

“Sunday is gloomy, my hours are slumberless. Dearest the shadows I live with are numberless.”

Ivory was sobbing with happiness. This was the song they had danced to the first time. And  when Michael sang this to her back in the day, her heart was fulfilled with joy, anytime.

“Angels have no thoughts of ever returning you, would they be angry, if I thought of joining you.”

Ivory was overwhelmed with felicity, although she knew it was her “Danse Macabre.” By the time, the clock hit midnight, they stopped the dance. They looked in each others eyes and kissed each other softly but passionately.

“You’ll never be lonely again, I promise you,” said Michael, holding Ivory’s hand. “Please come with me! But you know, that means that you.…”

“It’s okay,” interrupted Ivory. “My only desire is to be with you again. No matter what.” She smiled and walked off with her Love of her Life. By the next morning, their footsteps had been washed away by the cold November rain. At the same time, Ivory woke up in the middle of a forest, lying in the arms of her One and Only.

Issue 1:2 (Autumn 2020)

Welcome to the Autumn 2020 issue of Folyosó! Treat yourself to a plethora of autumnal and non-autumnal pieces in a range of forms and moods: tall tales, humorous dialogues, introspections, spooky descents, eye-opening travels, and more. The cover art is by Lilla Kassai; please click on it to enlarge it. We also proudly present the first Folyosó contest, on the topic of priorities in life and how we determine them. We welcome your readership and comments!

Letter from the Editor

Fiction and Quasi-Fiction


First Folyosó Contest: Priorities in Life


About the Contributors

Submit to the Winter 2020–2021 Issue and First International Contest!

Cover art by Lilla Kassai.


Folyosó’s Fourth International Contest, Autumn 2023

Theme 1: Freedom

In her introduction to Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor wrote, “Does one’s integrity ever lie in what he is not able to do? I think that usually it does, for free will does not mean one will, but many wills conflicting in one man. Freedom cannot be conceived simply. It is a mystery and one which a novel, even a comic novel, can only be asked to deepen.”

Write a story, poem, essay, dialogue, letter, or other work that explores the nature of freedom: its complexities, simplicities, possibilities, impossibilities, and more. This piece does not have to include the word “freedom” in the title or elsewhere, though it may; you are welcome and encouraged to pursue the topic in a variety of ways. For example, freedom might play a role in a story about someone who writes an angry message to someone, stews over it for a few hours, and then finally deletes it. Or a poem might alternate between free verse and a tight form, implicitly testing the freedoms in both.

Theme 2: Mistakes

We dread making mistakes, but sometimes they are the most important things that happen to us. Write an essay, story, poem, dialogue, letter, or other work in which a mistake plays a key role. The mistake may be funny, embarrassing, trivial, tragic, interesting, unusual, common, illuminating, confusing, or any combination of these; the piece should do something interesting with it.

The contest is open to secondary school students around the world; the deadline is November 1, 2023. You may enter as many pieces as you wish, but please submit each one to only one category. (That is, your piece might have to do with both freedom and mistakes, but please choose one of these two as the category for your submission.) To submit your work, please email it as a Word or Google Doc attachment to diana.senechal at vargaszolnok.hu. Include the contest theme in the subject line (for example: “Folyosó International Contest Submission: Freedom”).

Folyosó’s Third International Contest, Autumn 2022

In 2022 there were two contest themes: connections between the arts, and social criticism. Congratulations to the winners!

Theme 1: Write a piece that in some way connects two or more of the arts (including dance, music, literature, fine arts, theatre, film, and more).

  • First Place: Zsófia Szabina Gávris, The Peak of Intelligence (with credit to Eszter Klára Szabó for technical assistance)
  • Second Place: Lilla Kassai, Can You Draw Faster, Picasso?
  • Third Place: Helka Ondok, Being a Dancer; and Petra Varga, Versatile Art
  • Honorable Mention: Adél Mihályi, An (Un)helpful Guide for Creating the Perfect K-pop Group; Eszter Aletta Hevesi, Artistic Travel; and Selin Rana Özkarahan, Death on Two Legs: The Wave That Crushed and Rebuilt Visions

Theme 2: Write a piece of social criticism: explaining what is wrong, misguided, or distorted about a tendency in society.

  • First Place: Fatma Irmak Tuncel, The Gray
  • Second Place: Ezgi Yılmaztekin, Just a Normal Woman’s Life; and Áron Antal, Old Acquaintance
  • Third Place: Ela Kazandağ, Second Chance
  • Honorable Mention: Eszter Klára Szabó, Performative Activism

Many thanks to Judit Kassainé Mrena and Anikó Bánhegyesi, who helped judge the second category (Diana Senechal judged the first category on her own).

Of the winners and contributors, the following six attend the Lycée Sainte Pulchérie in Istanbul: Selin Rana Özkarahan, Fatma Irmak Tuncel, Ezgi Yılmaztekin, Ela Kazandağ, Joshua Robles, and Kaya Tunçer. The others attend the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary.

Folyosó’s Second International Contest, Autumn 2021

Life is full of contradictions, but how well can you express this through a story, poem, dialogue, essay, or other written form?

Congratulations to the winners of Folyosó’s second international contest! The jury (Anikó Bánhegyesi, Marianna Jeneiné Fekete, and Diana Senechal) were moved by the quality and intensity of the submissions. Thanks to all for your participation! All finalists will be published in the Autumn 2021 issue of Folyosó.

  • First Place: Roza Kaplan*, “Raindrops in the Darkness”; Kitti Lili Tupi, “The Girl in the Window”; Sarin Nevruz*, “The Illusion Game of the Mind”
  • Second Place: Zsófia Szabina Gávris, “From Contradicting to Acting”; Dorottya Turza, “Not What I Thought It Was”; Adél Mihályi, “Coordinates”
  • Third Place: Aurelia Wiggins**, “On the World”; Başak Ünal*, “A Strangely Usual Day of Mr. Steve”; Ceylin Kıran*, “The Song of Being”
  • Honorable Mention: Ecem Göksenin Aday*, “The Reflection”; Eszter Aletta Hevesi, “Do We Really Need Time?”; Sára Eszter Radó, “The Extinct Fire”

*Lycée Sainte-Pulchérie, Istanbul, Turkey
**Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering, New York, NY, USA
Everyone else: Varga Katalin Gimnázium, Szolnok, Hungary

Folyosó’s First International Contest, Winter 2020-2021

Congratulations to the winners of Folyosó’s first international contest! The jury (Judit Kéri, Anikó Bánhegyesi, Edit Göröcs, Nándor Szűcs, and Diana Senechal) had a difficult time deciding, since we enjoyed and admired the pieces so much. The winners are:

  • Grand Prize: Bernadett Sági (Varga Katalin Gimnázium, Szolnok), Virtual or Reality
  • First Place: Deniz Pala (Lycée Sainte-Pulchérie, Istanbul), Stronger Links
  • Second Place: Gergely Sülye (Varga Katalin Gimnázium, Szolnok), In an Arm’s Reach, and Kázmér Kaposvári (Varga Katalin Gimnázium, Szolnok), Salvation or the End
  • Third Place: Defne Lal Koçer (Lycée Sainte-Pulchérie, Istanbul), Life Consists of Choices, and Lilla Kassai (Varga Katalin Gimnázium, Szolnok), Bringing Dragons to Life
  • Honorable Mention: Lili Forgács (Varga Katalin Gimnázium, Szolnok), The Language-Capsule; Ahmet Yavuz Kaya (Lycée Sainte-Pulchérie, Istanbul), Muter3000; Eszter Aletta Hevesi (Varga Katalin Gimnázium, Szolnok), The Portal; and Alexandra Klaudia Süveges (Varga Katalin Gimnázium, Szolnok), Camping with a Little Bit of Magic.

Congratulations to all! All of the pieces will be published in Folyosó on Monday, February 15 and their authors will receive certificates within the next two weeks.

Contest Description: Imagine a new invention that, as far as you know, does not already exist. Describe it in an essay, story, poem, letter, dialogue, or other form of writing. The invention may be serious or silly, practical or whimsical, plausible or absurd (or any combination of these qualities). You may accompany it with drawings if you wish, but this is not required. Your piece should explain how the invention came into existence, how it works, and what purpose it serves (or could serve) in a fictional world. It should be entirely imaginary; if you have any actual inventions, don’t include them in this contest. Instead, develop them and apply for a patent!

Past Contests

Congratulations to the winners of Folyosó’s Autumn 2020 Contest! Thanks to Judit Kéri, Marianna Jeneiné Fekete, Judit Kassainé Mrena, and Anikó Bánhegyesi, who, along with editor-in-chief Diana Senechal, read the finalist entries and selected the winners. All winning pieces, including honorable mentions, will be published in the Autumn 2020 issue of Folyosó. We are happy that the choice was so difficult, that there were so many interesting pieces to read! To see the contest description, please scroll down.

First Place: Adél Mihályi
Second Place: Gergely Sülye, Erika Mária Szántó, Attila Marcell Kiss (each individually)
Third Place: Zsófia Szabina Gávris
Honorable Mention: Dániel Lipcsei, Heléna Laura Spinou, Gréta Tóth

Autumn 2020 Contest: How do we determine what is important in life? What makes us change our mind about our priorities? Are priorities just a matter of personal preference, or do they have universal value? Whom do we affect with our decisions about what is and isn’t important? Who influences these decisions, and how?

Write about any of these questions (or related questions) in a form of your choice, such as a poem, play, essay, dialogue, letter, or story. It can be serious or silly, analytical or playful, a combination of these, or something else entirely. Mail the submission as a Word attachment to diana.senechal at vargaszolnok.hu. Please put the word “Contest” in the subject header. For this contest only, we will consider pieces in Hungarian as well as in English. The deadline is September 30, 2020.

Hogyan határozzuk meg, hogy mi a fontos az életben? Mi késztet bennünket arra, hogy megváltoztassuk dolgaink fontossági sorrendjét? A prioritás csak egyéni vonzódás, értékrend kérdése, vagy hordozza az általánoshoz igazodást is? Kikre és milyen hatással van az, hogy mit tartunk fontosnak és mit nem? Kik és hogyan befolyásolják az értékrendünket?

Ehhez vagy ehhez kapcsolódó témában várunk bármilyen műfajú (vers, dráma, tanulmány, levél, dialódus, novella). A mű hangvétele lehet komoly vagy könnyed, elemző vagy játékos stb., illetve ezek kombinációja.

Az angol vagy magyar nyelven írt pályaművet kérjük Word-dokumentumban Diana Senechal számára kérjük elküldeni: diana.senechal@vargaszolnok.hu. Az email tárgyaként tüntessék fel: Contest. A beküldési határidő: 2020. szeptember 30.

About the Contributors

Áron Antal likes to spend his time in nature and in the bordering land around his town; interested in old machinery, cars and motorcycles especially, and things from the mid-nineteenth century to the 90s, as well as the lifestyle of that era, he is trying to include these in his stories and build them a plot, an important role.

Szabina Tamara Da Cunha Carvalho is a student in Class 11.C who really enjoys writing about interesting topics, especially when it comes to giving an opinion. 

Dávid Csáki is just a gamer who decided to write a story.

Zoltán Fekete: If you let silence guide you, you unlock your full potential.

Lili Forgács is a fifteen-year-old girl with an enormous heart and even larger dreams.

Lili Galics hopes you shine, lil sweetie.

My name is Hunor Gangel and I am just a normal high school student.

Zsófia Gávris is a fifteen-year-old girl from Szolnok who sees the positive side of everything and works hard toward her goals.

Eszter Aletta Hevesi is from Törökszentmiklós.

Kázmér Kaposvári: I would say I am rather creative and have ideas, but most important of all, I create something out of those ideas.

Lilla Kassai is a bit of a weird girl who loves dark and morbid jokes and is not afraid of telling them to people like you.

Tamás Kertész: How is a picture made? “From Light comes Darkness, and from Darkness – Light!” It is that simple. (Quote from: Alodi; Warcraft: The Beginning)

Attila Marcell Kiss was born in Szolnok.

Dániel Lipcsei is a folk dancer in two ensembles, Rákóczi Néptáncetyüttes—Rákóczifalva and Tisza Táncegyüttes, and a member of Class 11.C at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium.

Anna Mészáros is an overthinker, especially when you ask her about her bio.

I am Adél Mihályi, and I am not good at speaking, so I write.

Zalán Molnár: Making history.

Dávid Preller is too boring to answer with something funny.

My name is Bernadett Sági and I am so excited, because this is the first time that my work has been published on the internet.

According to Gergely Sülye, the quarantine of 2020 is something you can conveniently use for some serious self-improvement at home.

(Alexandra) Süveges clapped you.

I am Gréta Tóth and I like to express my opinions through writing.

Dorottya Turza: I’m like a book you have to read. A book can’t read itself to you. It doesn’t even know what it’s about.

Strange Dude in the Neighborhood

Lilla Kassai

“Elm Street,” complained Miss Cand. “Such a horrible name for this street. And now that new man has moved into the house next door.”

The man she was complaining about hadn’t actually done anything wrong to her. Miss Cand was jealous of him because her beloved tabby cats had instantly started to lie in his garden, not on her couch.

Her nighttime spying informed her that her neighbour, Vlad—she got to know his name from Miss Darsey, the other old cat-lady in the street—was playing with her cats, and sometimes, as a tall, dark and mysterious young man, he brought home some pretty ladies around midnight, and Miss Cand never saw them coming out of his house in the morning when she got up.

Some time passed, maybe one or two months, and Miss Cand began exploring her new favourite hobby: stalking Mr. Vlad. She watched his house all day long, from her bedroom window. A week later, she knew Vlad’s daily routine by heart, except when he usually left for work. She never saw him coming out of the house during the daytime. She saw him only after sunset, wearing all black, which also disturbed her. 

“Just like the hooligans, back in the day,” she remarked on the phone to Miss Darsey. As Vlad was both ladies’ next door neighbour, they always gossiped about him and stalked him.

“Or one of those rockers who worship Lucifer,” added Miss Darsey, who was knitting in front of the window, surveying Mr. Vlad’s backyard “He never leaves for work, and almost every night he brings home a new … How to say … a new light-blooded girl, way after midnight. But I … I’m going to say it straight to his face, that we won’t tolerate this….”  she mumbled, and both ladies hung up.

A few days passed, and Miss Cand had no news from Miss Darsey. She decided to visit her neighbour alone. “I’ll give him the lesson that his parents forgot to give him,” she said to herself grumpily. Then she slipped her old cardigan over her home dress and walked over. 

She knocked on the door multiple times. “I bet he is sleeping in the middle of the day … Such a useless, worthless little….” Vlad opened the door, interrupting Miss Cand’s train of thought.

“Good morning! May I help you?” he asked in a polite tone with a slight East-European accent, but the old lady immediately snapped:

“You are a lazy, useless man! You are up all night, you get chicks, and you never work in the daytime!” she shouted, pointing at the man’s chest and marching towards him. A moment later, she was in Vlad’s living room. 

“Come in!” whispered the man with growing anger. The old lady immediately sat on the sofa, although he hadn’t welcomed her to make herself at home. He tried to warn her with the glance of his chestnut-brown eyes, but Miss Cand didn’t seem to pay attention. 

“So,” Miss Cand started. “When I heard you talking, I realised that you are not from this country.”

“You’re right, ma’am” answered Vlad, trying to calm himself.

“You migrated here, and you don’t do anything to make your country great!” cried the old woman. “ You are a useless weirdo, you have no place here … Go back.…” She couldn’t finish what she wanted to say. For a short time, she felt an enormous pain on her neck and something warm and liquid flowing down onto her chest. Then everything turned dark. 

“Such an over-patriotic frump,” snapped Vlad. “Such a bitter witch … I hope I won’t get a stomach ulcer from the tasteless, dense blood of this old wimp. The other, whose blood I sucked three days ago, is still torturing my digestive system.  What a schmuck!”

Issue 1:1 (Spring 2020)

Welcome to the first issue of Folyosó, an online literary journal by students of the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. Plans for the journal started in March 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic; these times call for a literary journal just as any time does—that is, boldly, clearly, and merrily. Two months later, on May 11, 2020, the inaugural issue appeared. See the contents below. We welcome your readership and comments!

Letter from the Editor

Interview with Dániel Lipcsei


Nosepieces (based on Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose”)



A High-Stakes Test by Class 11.C2 and Diana Senechal

About the Contributors

Submit to the Autumn 2020 Issue!

Cover art by Lilla Kassai.

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