Saving Grace

Inspired by a sarcastic note on the wall of a local burger joint, I owe this one entirely to the German sense of humor and the woes of big-city renting.

No matter which city you live in, it’s almost a guarantee that people complain about the housing situation. It’s hard to find an apartment. The ones you can find are either gross or grossly overpriced. Though my city has it better than most dense metro areas in Germany, it’s a common complaint here too. You kind of just… get through it, somehow.

But one of my neighbors had a point to make.

My fiance and I were at our local burger joint, which offers doodle papers and colored pencils to entertain you (or, more likely, your children) while the food is prepared. I happened to see a particularly hilarious note written on one of these papers and pinned to the cork board above our table. I took a picture of it with the caption:

“You might say apartment hunting is… SOUL CRUSHING.”

It was the cleverest thing I could come up with, based on what the anonymous, frustrated Einwohner/in had written. From the note and the caption, the story idea was born!

Read the story to figure out what the note said! I am currently still revising and submitting it, so please keep your fingers crossed for me and check back regularly or subscribe to get important updates on this and more.

Tibi, In Omne Tempus

This story was published in 2015 in Havok Magazine and was my first taste of writing success. It was inspired by a random early morning walk through a Parisian graveyard.

Though by far not the first story I ever wrote, TIOT claims two important distinctions: it is the first story I finished, and is the first to be published.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The year was 2014 and I was on my exchange semester in Germany. In the early summer, a couple of friends and I decided to spend a week in Paris. I had learned French and studied the culture with a passion eclipsing obsession for the previous six years, but this was my first time to ever visit and I was beside myself with excitement.

We stayed in Montmarte, which I loved on the spot. It had all the Parisian charm I had envisioned, from the stylized metro signs and hipster, artistic vibes to the Moulin Rouge and the Sacré-Cœur.

Our last day, we went out really early to get coffee at a small shop around the corner. On our way, we passed the slightly-ajar gates of the Cimetière de Montmartre and I, being fascinated by spooky old things and cursed by curiosity, insisted we go in and take a look. I was captivated by the history and the almost eerie silence as we walked row after row of graves and sepulchers.

I distinctly remember turning to a friend at one point and saying, verbatim, “Now I understand how people could think vampires are real.”

It wasn’t until later that year, back home and “homesick” for Europe, alone in my too-quiet apartment, that I finally wrote the story. I wrote one single scene, intending to build around it, but nothing else was coming to mind. Despite being less than two pages, it felt right.

I had no idea what to do with it.

I brought it to my best friend, who told me that flash fiction is a real category and there were some publications I could submit to. The responses were mixed at best, ranging from form rejections, to an editor who took time out of her day to call it “cliche and overdone” (to be fair, yes), to the awesome team at Havok who wanted to publish it.

That’s it, folks. My first story, completed in two hours on a lark, published within three months of being written. God, I wish it were always that easy.