STRANGERS - #POB-WOTW - S3 - Challenge Round

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(Edited)

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In the middle of Berlin,

where once no stories were written along the Wall, the shiny new buildings stand smoothly in the area, as symbols of status and the like.

The unknown parts of the city, on the other hand, where it is once again allowed to get old and rotten, and a few still undeveloped places unseen by unobservant eyes and unheeded by well-fed stomachs, offers the curious stray some variety.

Through a picket fence he hears the sound.

Now and then an insect comes flying through or over the fence. Through a gap, you can see some beehives standing on the grounds. A whole tiny garden opens up there.
Now and then you see an elderly woman come out of the dark interior through a rusty door, wearing work gloves. She spots you peering curiously, questioningly through the crack.

"Come in, come on!" she calls at you, waving a hand towards her. She points to an entrance some steps away.

You think about it for a few seconds and she already goes inside: "Coffee, tea?" There you are, standing in the small courtyard. "Coffee, thank you!" you call after her. Inside you hear a clatter and then she is there again, holding out a cup. You take it.

"What do you want?" she asks.

No one ever speaks to you like that, you are irritated, which gives you time to say, stumbling,

"I ... don't know yet."

She is silent and looks at you almost maliciously. Or is it because you are not used to looking into unblinking eyes? You smile because you are unsettled by her invitation and not being very generous with words.

She says:

"That's a good start, boy. Not knowing what you want and knowing you don't have to know right away."

I have to repeat that in my mind, but while my intellect is still dealing with it, my body already knows, my feet find their way to a chair, I sit down. Don't I always say to my people that I'm on the lookout for those who don't fit in? How easy it is to say that among friends and how difficult it is not to immediately dismiss strangers who irritate you.

But does she have to call me "boy"? I ask her though, as it buzzes around my ears,

"Bees, is it difficult to keep them here?"

"Well, what do you think?" she snorts and clasps the city with her hand. "Do you see any flowering trees or gardens like mine anywhere?"

I shake my head, thinking that maybe the term "boy" isn't so wrong after all.

"People think they're insects," she says, musing. "They talk in comparisons and are always comparing themselves to the strongest and the most frail. Yet there are perhaps only one or two analogies in the whole world that really hit the mark!"

"Is that why you prefer being with bees to being with people?", I want to know.

"Don't be such an idiot! And whence do you even suppose that I prefer bees to humans? What a completely absurd idea!"

"Oh, ..." I feel stupid, it occurs to me just at this very moment that I'm talking like a film figure, or ... no, ... I'm treating the woman like a movie character.

I hit my forehead with my hand, lust rises up my chest, runs through my limbs and I laugh heartily. I say:

"Good woman, I am no longer familiar with having a normal conversation. My head is full of judgments that lie in millions of boxes and immediately open a drawer into which I put the people I meet. I'm sorry, I'm so used to petty discord and that it takes me a while to .... to ... "

"It's all right," she waves it off. "I'll sell you a quart of honey."

She rises and soon returns with a large jar. I am pleased to be understood in such a direct way. I pull a note out of my wallet, hold it out to her questioningly, she nods.

We talk for a while, then I leave. Hands in my pocket.

BEGINNING OF STORY.




The above is my story for the #POB-WOTW writing contest. I saw it the first time today and felt inspired to take part. It's a long time ago I participated in a story-writing contest (remembering how much fun I had back then with the Bananafishes and all the creative entries).

I really hope that I could deliver the message I intended. I am curious to know what you think of this little episode with two strangers.

Here are the requirements and here you find the challenge posted:

Contest Rules
Be Creative
Write an article that uses all of the following four words: Hive, Discord, Malicious, and Frailty.
Do not write about the Hive blockchain.
Do not commit plagiarism.
Use the #POB-WOTW tag if you are participating in the contest.
Please include the use of the hashtag(#) when using the #POB-WOTW tag inside of your article. It keeps this contest viewable in the trending tags. Also, only use the #POB-WOTW tag if you're participating in the contest. For example, if you write a POB-Daily post that has nothing to do with the contest, then you're article won't be counted.

Including all the words in the title of the article, and then not using it within the article, is not the intent of any word-related contest. Challenge yourself. Have fun with it. Engage yourself.

Many thanks to @scholaris for running this contest.


Picture source: Pixabay



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19 comments
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Hive, Discord, Malicious, and Frailty. Oh dear, my article would not be welcome.


Posted via proofofbrain.io

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To get to the heart of something, it is worth taking an indirect route to let the reader follow their own thoughts and interpretations. The artistic approach to telling the things that are important in one's life is, in my eyes, the best way to not immediately go into contradiction. That's what we humans have art for, isn't it? Let's use it.

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Oh tis the lady with the gorgeous smile, nice inside too by the looks. :-)

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Hard challenge, as my kid is due to born soon im not having too much brain power avaible for this, but i really wanna do a post about it.

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I love your use of headers in your story. You're setting the scene pretty seamlessly but making the header stand out the way you do.

So, he hands her a note and doesn't take the honey? Why would that be so? How old is he to know of petty discord. I'd love to learn more about him.


Posted via proofofbrain.io

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Thank you, I'm glad you're interested in the story. The headings have two functions: One is a concession to quick reading fatigue and the other is a stylistic device to highlight something that is important to me.

We are dealing with two people of different ages, it is clear that the woman is older than the man. But who, as you can see from his thoughts, has self-reflection and is trying to break out of his usual social patterns. He is a little annoyed at being addressed as "boy", but realises that in order to consider himself an equal, he must first overcome this provocation.

Why does he leave the honey there and not take it straight away? A little hint. At the end of my story it says: "Beginning of story". Perhaps I should have emphasised this sentence as well. Maybe I'll do that later. How does this clue make you understand the course of the story?

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As this contest is also about engagement, I have read some of the others entries. I found, so far, one of them worthy to respond to. Here I copy my comment to the article about "The art of ownership"

Thank you very much, the points you raise and your headline I see similarly.
Since agreement alone is a bit boring, I would like to add the following, to which I see a contradiction, the passage about the Wachowskis.

The Wachowskis themselves have said that transgenderism and the desire for transformation in a closeted world was the key underlying theme of the film, something I am sure many of its widespread audience over the years failed to appreciate.

I don't think the audience was lacking in valuing the overlapping gender roles. As you say in your text, interpretation is always also the performance of the viewer of art. One can say: "It is not the sender of a message that determines the content, it is the receiver."

The indeterminacy in a work of art is exactly what I think art is. It is not fixed but multidimensional. On the other hand, I understand the gender debate of the present as the opposite of art. It is as if one wants to train the perceivers of communication to accept something that, by its nature, is not fully taken on by the individual. Art does not say "you are either for or against", it speaks to me indirectly, not directly.

Genderism is therefore not an expression of art for me, if one speaks of it as of one-sided truth, the permissiveness of the chosen outward appearance and inner conviction threatens to become unfreedom, as if one commands: "Be tolerant!" In the same way, one could demand "Be spontaneous!", which would immediately nip all spontaneity in the bud.

I therefore see genderism more as a kind of trendy behavioural order.

Whereas I wish that it is not a matter of explicitly mentioning something, but rather of implicitly understanding something and not forcing to transfer this understanding of the individual to everyone in the same way. Whoever enters a room as a transsexual and nobody cares, that I would call "casual".

Which I see as true tolerance. But when a transgender enters a room, overly aware of the self, in anticipation of either being judged as "how cool!" or "how ugly!" and the people in the room jump right on it (openly or inwardly), it's not tolerance, it's trend, from my point of view.

But where the whole thing is not an issue at all, not particularly considered, not particularly discussed, because the tolerance is present in the room from the outset, that "everyone can be whoever they want", it becomes clear to me that we can allow ourselves to play roles, not to take ourselves too seriously. By not taking myself too seriously, I allow myself free space and thereby experience seriousness.

Maybe I will engage with some other contest participants. Engagement is what holds me here.

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Engagement is a big reason why I curate comments and articles. I feel they're as important to read as the articles themselves.

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(Edited)

I am quite blown away by this entry. To me, it is the opening chapter of a novel and it has drawn me in and captured my attention in a big way. I am intrigued by the juxtaposition of social class and welfare, by the interactions between the older woman and younger man, by a discussion of bees and honey that seem to be superfluous to what both of them really want to talk about. My mind wants to run away with questions and possible answers but I know I don't have enough information yet. It makes me thirst for more. The woman's unblinking eyes hint towards mistrust and emptiness. Her solitudinous state towards isolation, loneliness, and perhaps some form of escape, but not one that she would choose if life was more normal. The following pieces I feel are particularly important to the narrative and understanding of how this piece fits into what presume will be a larger picture. "I'm on the lookout for those who don't fit in", and "I am no longer familiar with having a normal conversation. My head is full of judgments that lie in millions of boxes". I also note that he leaves with his hand in his pockets. Has he left the honey behind? It was never about the honey in the first place. Perhaps there are others who may be listening in? Or maybe he needs to hide the honey in his pocket so as to keep her presence a secret? Whilst I am slightly confused as to WHEN this story is set, the clues around the setting being in Berlin and the man's self-reflections point to allusions to the holocaust and a man who is just starting to question everything about his way of life. The last bit "My head is full of judgments that lie in millions of boxes" hit me like a blow to the solar plexus😭 Are we dealing with post WW2, East/West divide, Post 1989 with ongoing sense of insecurity and suspicion. Either way, I am all in for the next installment. I am rooting for you this week in the contest. I think this is outstanding.💗🙏

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@scholaris, I am intrigued to see @erh.germany 's response to my engagement. Although I suspect we may be left in suspense... and maybe that is the right thing to do ... I also love that the story ends with the words "beginning of story" as this is truly a turning point for the man, and perhaps for the woman herself and therefore a fresh start both literally and figuratively for them both; a chance to start their own stories and leave behind the history and prejudice of what came before.

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I am enjoying your feedback on the story very much, thank you for that. You were so right about what you said in your text about interpretation, I am just amazed at how this text is received by you and it makes me realise once again that the superstructure of human experience resonates and differs in each of us.

I am unsure if it will have a sequel, in fact I was thinking that any reader might be inspired to imagine how the story continues, which you did.

The search for encounters that are different from everyday life, that was my intention, to tell how easy it is to say in theory that you want to be open to strangers and the non-conformist, but how difficult it is when then in real life moments present themselves where such happens, you are even invited to enter a stranger's space. Here in the form of the elderly woman, who is neither beautiful, nor particularly friendly, nor particularly heroic.

Unfortunately, in the translation into English, as far as the "unobstructed gaze" is concerned, the meaning has been somewhat lost, as I now realise.

I probably thought I was reminded of rare photographs taken of indigenous people from small tribes in the depths of the South American forest, who looked the cameraman in the face, but did not show the usual signs of posing or desired friendliness, but appeared authentic to the viewer. And thus looked almost unfriendly, but probably were not.

I suspect that although smiling is a widespread cultural habitus, I can imagine that this is not always and at all times the case.

I haven't thought much about the inner life of the woman, for me she is a realistic character who makes little fuss about the past or the future. Her supposedly insulting nature served to positively challenge the younger man and see if he would be deterred or jump the hurdle.

The man's search for a human and non-judgemental encounter made him realise how much he himself is already consumed by being too quickly led by superficial thoughts. I am delighted that this hit you (as it did and does hit me when I become aware of my judging thoughts).

I didn't have a specific time period in mind. The Berlin Wall merely served as a place marker for me, with the modern buildings after the fall of the Wall in mind to serve as a contrast to the city's outlying less shining and more dirty and unspectacular districts.

But all your own interpretations or guesses about it I welcome, it's exactly what you say: the joy of the reader's own interpretation and the freedom to see everyone have their own thoughts about it is the beauty of writing.

I would find it quite exciting to read a sequel from you, as I know it from the past contests that once ran on the blockchain. Someone provided a start and the participants each offered their personal finish.

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I actually read your story a number of times and it was "My head is full of judgments that lie in millions of boxes" that really hit me and I thought immediately of the millions of Jewish people who had been murdered in the Holocaust and although we know that they did not have the respect of a proper burial, they 'effectively' ended up in boxes (funeral caskets or coffins), millions of lives lost due to fundamental misguided prejudice and judgements. So I understood we were talking post-1989 but also thought there was the history of judgment in Germany that was playing a part in your story. It is fascinating how we can all get something different from a creative piece, from a work of art. I think the idea of blockchain novella (different authors contributing to one piece consecutively) is fantastic. I will bookmark your story and if I get a chance, will let my thoughts wander ... In the meantime, if you would like to get involved with an existing blockchain novella, take a look at @dibbler.dabs 's The Tale of Two Pizzas contest You will need to read all the chapters in order, under 'The story so far' . The section labeled 'Other previous entries' are those submissions that did not make it into the story. Each week @dibbler.dabs writes the next installment in the story and invites writers to read and take part by contributing a chapter to the book. He collates the chapters and chooses one or more winners' submissions that take the story forwards and they become part of the novel. There are prizes on offer each week. Once the novel finally comes to a close it will be published by @dibbler.dabs on the blockchain with every contributor acknowledged and earning a share of the final publications rewards. It's a great experiment and a lot of fun. It's an adventure story with some spy action, drama, intrigue, and Dallas/Dynasty soap elements thrown in 😂💗 Please come over and have a look. Perhaps you could start your own novella off the back of this story of yours? I would certainly look to support it.

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Thank you so much.
I can't answer adequately right now. I've had a full day's work on my brother's building site and all I want to do is rest. Yawn. I may come back at another time.
Sincere greetings to you.

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