Fiction - Page 12

The Snow Globe

Bernadett Sági

Emily was a very ordinary girl. Her parents were divorced, and she lived in Michigan with her mother. It was December, the last week of school before the break. Emily was going home; when she got to the door of the house, she was surprised. In front of the door, there was a little box with her name on it. She picked it up and went inside.

“Mom! I’m home,” she said while putting down her bag and the box and taking off her shoes and coat. She went to the kitchen and found a sheet of paper on the table.

I went to do the shopping, I will be back soon.

She dropped it back on the table and went to her bedroom with her bag and the ‘secret gift.’ When she got to the room, she threw the schoolbag down next to the desk and lay down in her bed with the box. She stared at it for a few seconds but was too curious, so she opened it. It was a snow globe, with a tiny but peaceful city inside. She shook it a couple of times and then just looked at the small snowflakes falling down. Emily thought that it was beautiful, and it really was. She put it on the shelf opposite the bed, and it occurred to her that maybe her father had sent it. While she was starting to write her homework, her mom came home.

She couldn’t sleep that night; she kept staring at the snow globe and thinking about it. Who had given it to her and why? Finally she fell asleep. When she woke up, she wasn’t in her bed, not even in her house. Emily got up, scared; she didn’t know what to think or do. She ran downstairs, went to the door, and stopped there. She hesitated but finally opened it. Snow was falling and everything was white, and maybe Emily would have found it wonderful if she hadn’t been so frightened and exhausted. She slowly stepped out of the house and gazed at the narrow roads and friendly houses. Everything was so quiet and calm, contrary what was happening in her head. Emily knew that she had never been in that place before, but she found it familiar.

“What’s happening?” she asked herself and slowly turned around, taking a look at the house out of which she had stepped a minute ago. It was quite large and homely. Everything was so confusing around her. What was she doing here, and what was that place? She went step by step toward the centre of the town, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the sky. It was really strange. It was light blue and it sparkled, but not in the usual way. It was as though there were a glass cap above the world. And then she realized. She was in the snow globe. She couldn’t breathe. She looked at the city around her again and again.

“It can’t be real,” she whispered, but she knew that nobody would hear her. Or what if she was wrong? At that moment she saw somebody behind a house looking at her. She froze, but that somebody stepped out from behind the wall. She was a girl of about Emily’s age.

“Who are you?” she asked Emily and looked at her. Emily couldn’t answer; she couldn’t even find the right words. And then the girl asked again.

“Emily,” she said so softly that she thought the girl wouldn’t hear. But she nodded, and that was all. They stared at each other for a few seconds.

“Where am I?” asked Emily. To her great surprise the girl started talking.

Her name was Chloe. She had lived in this city since her birth, but of course she didn’t know that this was a snow globe, and Emily didn’t want to tell her because Chloe wouldn’t believe her and maybe because Emily didn’t want to believe it either. That morning, Chloe had got up and seen nobody in the town, just Emily; that’s how they had met. Emily also told the girl her story, and when she came to the end, she saw that Chloe was staring at the sky and thinking. “Does she also see the glass cap up above?” thought Emily. But when Chloe looked at her again, Emily knew that she didn’t see it. Chloe had a plan.

They started walking in the city; and according to Chloe’s thought, there had to be something strange that didn’t fit in the city. And maybe this strange thing would be the key for Emily to go back home. After a half an hour they surely found something strange. When Emily saw it, she stopped in the middle of the street. It was a house, and not just any house. It was Emily’s home. When she asked Chloe about it, she said she had never seen this house before. They looked at each other. So this house was the key. They went inside. Emily looked around and realized that it was really her family’s house; all the furniture, even the color of the walls, was the same.

“You slept in your room before you got here, am I right?” asked Chloe beside her after a few minutes. Emily nodded silently; she was still shocked.

“And what if that is the way you can go back to your city?” continued Chloe. Emily turned around and looked at her. “Maybe it can work,” she thought.

“We can only know it if we try,” said Emily, and went toward her bedroom. Chloe followed her. They opened the door of Emily’s room and went in. Emily gazed around, and the snow globe caught her eyes. She went to the shelf and picked it up. Emily almost dropped it when she saw the city inside the snow globe. It wasn’t the same city that she saw before, the city that they were in. It was Emily’s city inside. “What does it mean?” she thought and went on looking at it.

“Emily,” Chloe disturbed her thoughts.”What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Nothing.” answered Emily quickly, putting the snow globe back on the shelf. “Let’s try your idea.” They said goodbye to each other and started laughing when they realized how unusual and unbelievable this all was. Emily went to her bed and lay down. She was tired and relieved to come back home, so it wasn’t hard for her to fall asleep.

She woke up, sat up in her bed and looked out the window but fell back after she saw the familiar roads and houses of her city. She looked at the snow globe. If it was a dream, why were the happenings so realistic? She stood up, went to the shelf, and grabbed the snow globe. Chloe’s city was inside it.

“What if it wasn’t a dream? What if Chloe is real and she is in one of these houses?” she thought aloud.

But she couldn’t think about it, because then she saw the clock on the wall. She put the snow globe back quickly, as she was late for school. Emily got dressed in a minute and grabbed her bag. She put on her shoes and ran to the bus station. The bus was just leaving when she got there, so she had to wait for the next one. Emily kept thinking about what had happened to her. Was it a dream or not? She didn’t know. She couldn’t rid her head of the picture of the snow globe with her city inside it. What if she were in that snow globe, what if she had always been in it?  She looked up at the sky, and she could have sworn that it was sparkling.

Family (excerpt)

Zalán Molnár

“The man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man,” my father always said. He was a real man. Don Carmelo Di Vito was the head of the Di Vito family, one of four families in New York. These four families controlled the city behind the curtains. They had the police, the judges, even the billionaire bank brokers in their hands. They were gangsters. Lot of people misunderstand this word. They think that being a gangster means running away from the police on the streets, aiming a gun at someone or being the loudest in the room. In reality, the loudest one in the room is always the weakest. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster. A head of a mafia family. To me, it was better than being the president of the United States.

Carmelo Di Vito has always said that he’s not a gangster. He’s a grown man running a business. Out of the four families, the Di Vito family had the biggest influence on the city. The other families were sometimes friends, sometimes enemies. Don Carmelo Di Vito was a highly respected man; everyone knew his name. Everybody wanted to do business with him. He was born in Italy, but the family moved to the States when he was little. Here he became a navy soldier. He served America for three and a half years; then, for reasons nobody really knew, he demilitarized. Some say that he did some business with the Italians, some say that he betrayed his country. The only thing that we know for sure is that he vanished. Then, a couple of years later, people just started to hear his name over and over again. He had quickly become a criminal mastermind, a notorious crime lord who was good to everyone. If you could just meet him, you wouldn’t think that he done all the bad things he had. He married a beautiful Latin American woman, Valeriana Di Vito. She was a popular model at that time, and being a wife of a mob lord only boosted her popularity.

Now I know what you’re thinking, they only married because of their fame. But that’s not the case here; actually their story goes way back to the early 70s. They were neighbours in Brooklyn, and they often played together on the streets. They found each other again, in the late 80s, and they fell in love. Valeriana became pregnant with twins. A couple of months later, Veronica and I were born. Me, Caesar Di Vito, the son of Carmelo Di Vito. By that time, my father had expanded his empire and started to trade with the other families. When Veronica and I were teenagers, Carmelo Di Vito controlled the whole city, secretly. There wasn’t a single thing that wasn’t run through the Di Vito family. All the elections, all the district attorneys, literally everybody who had an office at that time was working for or was simply just in favor of the Di Vitos.

It was heaven. If there was peace between the families, the crime rate in the city went down to almost nothing. But when there was war—and, trust me, there was—the families only killed the men of the other families, so the civilians had nothing to worry about there. It was the 1990s, there were rules. If somebody attacked or killed one of your men, you could kill one of his. An eye for an eye. They took care of these things quickly and carefully.  Besides that rule, maybe the most important one was that it was forbidden to kill a strict member of the family. Families are sacred. Everybody knew that.

For me, family was the only thing that mattered. My sister Veronica was a very powerful girl, and she knew that about herself. She always wanted to prove that she was worthy to become the head of the Di Vitos someday. She said that if she were in charge, we would rule equally, the first twin heads in the history of the mob world. But of course, both of us knew that she would only want the throne for herself.We didn’t have that normal, siblings-next-door type of relationship. We were both bloodthirsty, and we would do anything to become the head of the Di Vitos. As far as I can remember, I always wanted to beat her. We studied hard, we exercised a lot, just because we wanted to achieve more than the other. See, it was like a motivation. Although we were rich, our parents didn’t raise us as spoiled kids. We had to work for everything. If we wanted a toy, or new clothes, we had to race for it. I had to prove that I needed it more than my sister. We couldn’t trust each other with secrets, because it was leverage. In China, only one kid is allowed. I sometimes felt like if our family were living in China, I would be the second child. They often misunderstood me; I always thought that my beloved sister had more privilege than I did. There was this anger in me that wouldn’t fade away. It was like a sign. I had to do something. There had been intense rivalry between us since childhood, but we loved each other too, sometimes.

One of those times was when my dear sister was shot in an alley. She went down for some groceries and never came back. The grocery shop wasn’t far away; you only had to leave our mansion, go down the driveway, and then go straight for a couple of blocks. But my beloved sister often liked to go in alleys, dark places where no one else walked. I guess she wanted a place where she could hear her thoughts and be alone sometimes. She chose this alley route that afternoon. The sun had a very bright light that day, but because of the construction of the houses alongside the alley, on that road it was always dark. Have you ever heard about how some twins can feel something when the other one is in trouble? Well, I can tell you from experience that it is not true.

After a couple of hours, my mother started to worry. She didn’t know why Veronica was taking so long, and she expected the worst. It was the right thing to do, when you’re the wife of a criminal mastermind. My father was in the city, finishing up some business, so he didn’t know what had happened either. I was calm and I tried to calm my mother down. I thought that Veronica had met with one of her friends or something like that. But my mother got an image inside her head. She thought that she was in trouble and we had to help her. Maybe these abilities do work, after all. In the next few hours, we found her. To be honest, I can’t talk about how we found her. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. We rushed her to the hospital. She was still breathing, but the doctors said that we shouldn’t have any high hopes. We visited the hospital a couple times, but she was unconscious the whole time. On the fourth day, she passed away.

My father is an incredibly wise man; he knows that you can’t make life-changing decisions in these times. We waited. When the grief was “over” —although a whole life wouldn’t be enough to say goodbye to my sister—my father started to make moves.There were four families in New York at that time. The Garcias had come to the States in the mid 70s from Spain. They quickly took over by selling military-grade weapons to thugs. The Rodriguez family, they came from Venezuela, and they were ruthless. The Perez family from Mexico, but the head of that family became a pacifist after his brother died. And us. My father thought that the Garcia family had done it, because they couldn’t have a child, owing to Mrs. Garcia’s barrenness. The problem was that the Garcias had admitted to everything so far, but not to this. There was one thing my father couldn’t handle, and that was when somebody lied to him. He had no toleration for that. So he called a meeting with the other family to see whether they were telling the truth.

(The story, a work in progress, continues from here.)

Inside the Miniature

Gergely Sülye

I was walking to the bus stop at the end of a school day. The Sun was high, but its rays were already getting orange and ripe, reflecting off of buildings or shining onto the grass on the field next to me, undisturbed. There was a building a bit ahead of me that caught my attention. It stood out because its featureless wall stared right at me, just at the right angle where I couldn’t see but that particular side. I had recently gotten into miniature building. It wasn’t anything big, not even a hobby, but as it comes to any other beginner I was good at distinguishing a good and a bad quality model. This house in front of me was awful. Something even a child would outperform if they had the chance. If you were to put this on your miniature landscape, then you certainly don’t have good taste. No, I don’t think you’d even have taste at all.

Thinking about landscapes, I looked around to see how severely this one building would ruin the surroundings. The field was beautiful, the huge water tower looking down on it filled me with a sense of security. What a shame, I thought. It was masterfully crafted. I could almost imagine myself admiring this scenery at some kind of exhibition. As I continued walking, I played around with the idea of comparing real-sized things to their miniature counterparts. Suddenly I was overcome with an odd sense of uneasiness. I looked at the featureless building again, now showing more of its walls at my current angle. It was in the distance now, being smaller than before. It looked just like a miniature. I looked back on the field. It was also far enough that I could barely see any specific details; the grass looked like a smooth green carpet. At this distance it really could have been made out of fabric for all I knew. Then I noticed the sky. There were no clouds, just a gradient which shifted from bright blue at the edges of the horizon, going gradually darker as it reached the darkish blue top of the sky. It was comparable to being in a big room, on a small miniature set. The further corners of the room appearing dark as they were so far, at least in the miniature’s proportions. I almost expected a big face to walk in from the big blueness and look down on me. But of course there was only space out there. The scale of proportions between the standard sizes and miniatures is nothing compared to the difference of scale of humans and the cosmos. Yet humans can shape both the miniature and large-scale worlds, with enough effort, that is. It’s only obvious, since only a lot of small details can make up something bigger. In terms of scales, there is always a smaller measurement, a building block. Even the featureless wall was made up of delicately placed bricks, measured amounts of cement, particles of paint and random specks of dust sticking to it. Of course this is not visible from far away, nor is it significant at our scale of the world.

Now thinking about abstract and faraway concepts, I made my way to the bus stop. The odd feeling I had was still so strange and new that I just had to go to the bottom of it. Having retreated into this rare state of meditation, I kept waiting at the stop, although no longer for my drive home, but for my answers. My bus paid no attention to me, just as I paid no mind to the bus. It slipped away in front of my nose and made its way further down the road, gradually becoming featureless as it eventually turned into a dot on the contrasting horizon of the blue sky and green carpet.

Box Envy

Alexandra Klaudia Süveges

Once upon a time there was a small family. Two sisters, a little girl and a teenager. They were not poor, but they weren’t wealthy either. One day their father got home from work and called for them. He showed them a big treasure chest and opened it. There were two small boxes inside, one made of simple wood, the other of gold. The father said that the girls could have the boxes; they just needed to decide which one they wanted.

The younger sister went first. “I think I’ll go with the wooden box.” Both her sister and father stared as she reached for the simple one. The older sister was happy at first, knowing she’d get the gold box. But then, when she saw her sister opening her wooden box and getting all cheerful, she left her own box unopened and started following her.

She had been playing with it for a while—opening it, closing it, carrying it everywhere, and talking to it as if it were alive—when the older sister interrupted. “Sis, what’s inside your box? I’m dying of curiosity, you’ve been playing with it for hours,” she said, trying to touch it.

“I chose this box, it’s now mine. Play with yours.” With this she left the room and went to bed. The older sister went to bed as well and tried to sleep, but this box-thing kept her awake. She got out of bed and snuck into her sister’s room. The box was placed right next to her, on the nightstand. She grabbed it, almost opened it, then suddenly the light was on.

“What on Earth are you doing?” She pulled back the box.

“I am so sorry, but I just can’t get this out of my head. I NEED to know what’s inside….”

“Okay, what if we just switched boxes?” The older sister’s eyes went shiny; she immediately ran for hers and returned.

“There is my box, switch?” They switched.

“What?!” the older sister looked confused.

“What’s wrong?” the younger one asked with a grin.

“There’s nothing inside… did you take it out or something?” she asked, hoping it was just a prank.

“No, originally there was nothing there, but if I had chosen the metal box in the first place, you’d surely have tried to take it away; you always want things that aren’t yours.”

“Whatever… and what’s inside your box? I haven’t checked it.” The younger sister opened the box, and to her surprise there was a diamond in it.

Maybe sometimes appearance does matter after all.

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!”

The Nose’s Lark

Gergely Sülye

I decided to go on a holiday today. I know it is quite sudden and unusual, but I think I deserve it. Furthermore, I just got a pimple, which I will have to check out before that idiot pops it and leaves a permanent scar on me. Honestly I really deserve a day or so off; I have been working non-stop for the past decades.

It is only right to make this extraordinary event special, so I will use all my savings to purchase goods befitting of a king. I have already arranged my travels with an agency; they will provide an authentic outfit and carriage. My first destination will be the Kazan Cathedral, where I, for the first time in my life, will worship god, since Kovalyov never went to church with me.

Next I will visit my family members. I haven’t seen them in quite a while and I bet they miss me too. Kovalyov never lets me greet them for more then a few seconds every time we meet. And an unwieldy few seconds they are.  His lips always touch their cheeks, so I am left awkwardly looking at my relatives’ sides, as if I were blind and needed to touch my surroundings before finally leaning in for a hug.

I live quite a carefree life, and without that man attached to me I think I could make it in the dating scene quite well; he always drags me down. The problem is that no woman would talk to me if I were missing my human. No matter how well I dress up, a nose will always be a nose.

By the end of the day, he will probably miss me way too much, so I think I will graciously return to that poor man. Maybe he will even take me out to pick up some women as a celebration of our reunion. Oh yes, I can’t wait.

This is an interior monologue based on Nikolai Gogol’s story “The Nose” and told from the nose’s point of view.

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