Writers corner

August 13, 2019 11:00 PM

The Longing (12)

“You don’t understand, Ben. You have to help me.”
     “Wait, i’ll turn on the lights. Goddamn Rebecca, where is the nightlight? What did you do with it? Why aren’t you in bed?” He doesn’t like things getting out of hand, not in the daytime and surely not at night. He’s desperately trying to restore order. He’s still tapping the blanket.
     “Please don’t shout, Ben. And for God’s sake don’t turn on the lights!” He can’t believe his ears. The girl without tears seems to be sobbing.
     “Oh darling,” he says. “You’re sobbing. Why?” Grief overwhelming him. He’s almost there. In his hands her nightgown, soft, satin, a lace border. She’s taken it off, she’s standing naked in the dark. He presses his face into the nightgown. “Oh darling,” he repeats, “please come here. It’s too cold out there, come with me, under the blankets.” He puts the nightgown down. He’s longing for her, he feels ridiculous, sitting on this mattress alone, all excited, not knowing what to do. He doesn’t even know where to crawl to. And he still can’t find the night lamp. “Come here, honey.”
     “I’m not sobbing,” she says, her voice steady again, reprimanding even. “Why did you say i’m sobbing? Don’t say that because i’m not.”
     “But you were, honey, you were.”

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July 25, 2019 11:45 PM

The Longing (11)

They've booked a hotel in Amsterdam. Weather is boisterous, streets are empty, night has fallen. Between two showers of summer hail she’s looking out of the window, stooped forward, down into the street. Voices of scarce late passers-by, evaporating. It’s windy. Then she turns around and says, Now i know, Ben. She’s caressing her belly, both hands, she’s thrusting it out, showing off her pregnancy.
     “There’s nothing to see, really,” he says. They both burst into laughter. “It isn’t funny,” she says. Then they laugh again, leaving them with tears in their eyes. She tiptoes towards him, thrusting him, tickling him, pushing him against the wall. Kisses him. She hitches up her short sleeved ochre pullover, inviting him to caress her belly.
     “I’m keeping it,” she says. She looks at him in what seems a significant, even slightly challenging way. Suddenly she’s proud to have made a decision. Her look is defiant.
     “It's as flat as le plat pays,” he says. “I love you though, you sneaky little bastard,” he says, bending over, kissing her belly.

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July 12, 2019 11:45 PM

The Longing (10)

But he caught fever and plans were cancelled, and there she was now, a spot of light inadvertently showing off against the grey backdrop of the station. A tight blue woollen dress, short leather jacket with straps.
     “Look how my breasts have swollen,” she opens with, after she’d thrown her bag into the trunk, stretching her legs. “Again. I’m almost a porn star. Jesus. I was glad I could hop off this bus. What do you think, Ben?” Pulling down her dress she casts a questioning look upon him. He throws a glance. He almost crashes into a bus.
     An hour later, curled up in a chair, holding a cup of tea to warm her hands, she tells him about couple of weeks ago, her friend Roberta had won a night in Rotterdam, at a five-star hotel, and they’d been sitting in a big octagonal hot tub and drinking Martini, which she doesn’t like but Roberta kept on pouring, and then they had been giggling because Roberta had been pointing at her breasts saying they were really huge, and then she looked at them herself and was surprised too. That was before they found out about the pregnancy.
     “You aren’t pregnant, are you?” Roberta, worried, had asked.

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July 10, 2019 11:00 AM

The Longing - a letter to Eduardo, from Ben

Yesterday, to our utter surprise, we came to receive this letter, written by Ben, one of the main characters in Eduardo Riccardo’s novel ‘The Longing’. As it’s addressed to the writer, of course we forwarded it to Eduardo. The internet connection being extremely weak in his mountain cabin, we can only hope the letter reaches its destination…

Anyway, as it may be of interest to our readers, we thought it our duty to publish it.


Hi Eduardo,

I know you’ll want to shoot me for this, but- yes, it’s me, Ben. The Longing. One of your novel’s main characters. To be honest: if you want to shoot me, well… go ahead, I understand. After all you created me. And it’s not what novel characters are supposed to do, is it: go and start our own lives, independent from our writer? Do things without them being written out? I mean, what if Emma Bovary had stepped out of her story 150 years ago, would Flaubert have been happy? Don’t think so. And Anna Karenina? Count Vronsky? Not sure if Leo Tolstoy would have appreciated it.

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July 5, 2019 1:05 PM

The Longing (9)

The next day two things happen. In the morning his wife is calling him. The conversation starts quite encouragingly, her voice is mellifluous, almost sweet even, she says, “Look Ben, I’m going to do you a favour…” His heart skips a beat.
     “Oh darling, that’s so grand of you, I knew you’d understand. After all, it wasn’t what it…”
     “… I’ll give you seven days instead of four, to get the fuck out of the house, taking your personal belongings, strictu sensu, with you, foremost amongst which, that blonde bimbo you were… who was… accompanying…” Now her voice starts trembling. He especially doesn’t like the strictu sensu.
     
“Come on Marjorie, there’s no need to exaggerate things, nothing much happened and I can…”
     “That’s your opinion then. You’ve never been very devoid of opinions, have you, Ben? I’m so tired of these opinions of yours. Now let’s see if the judge shares this one after he or she’s seen the little movie Lily has made of your… performance.”
     “Movie? Lily?”

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June 29, 2019 2:00 PM

The Longing (8)

She’s about to take a shower, he’s sitting by the window, looking out over the garden. He hears thumping noises, produced by the installing of perfume bottles and creams in his wife’s kingdom: the bathroom. Sixteen years ago they tiled it, together, Amber was on her way. It was only two years later the money started coming in, suddenly, in big waves, bringing along an army of plumbers, interior decorators, Feng Shui consultants and mindfulness coaches, and the end of their Early Romanticism. His ship came in. Downtown boy marries uptown girl and lives happily ever after.
     Marjorie… Twenty-five he’d been. Her parents had never accepted him. In their eyes he had, basically, always remained a punk. He often forgot to tie his shoelaces, that was true. Or one of them. He was easily distracted, but a punk? Absent-minded, maybe. When their daughter crossed his path he was focused though. She had broken up (or was still in the act of) with her boyfriend, a DJ. He had seen her dancing. She was a bit chubby, but her posture… Proud. Quite inviting. And, most importantly: she spoke French. She was raised in the language. He liked girls speaking French. Her parents participated in a circuit of decent marriage fostering attempts, on behalf of their daughter they had the son of an old textile company in mind. He, the punk, had been the spoil-sport, the wet blanket.

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June 22, 2019 3:00 PM

The Longing (7)

He’s half woken up by a noise. The first thing he’s aware of is his own body. His cock hard, throbbing. Desire overwhelming him, a wave, he enters her, pulling her buttocks towards him. She utters a slight, short moan, which brings him to the verge of madness. At that moment there’s a knock on the bedroom door, short, urgent, compelling. His wife enters. Behind her, in the corridor, Amber and Lily.
     “Hi, honey,” Rebecca groans in a sleepy, husky voice, pinning his leg, moving her body down. He thinks he’s dying. He sees colours, of which he doesn’t remember the names, which is strange. They don’t exist, these colours, and yet he sees them. And then everything is scent. Her perfume. Bought in an old perfume shop in Firenze’s old centre, by René. Dead René. Must have bought it when he was still alive. Is this his heart skipping a beat or two? She’s moving up again. Then down. Should he make another appointment with the university heart unit? Yesterday papers announced all emergency services would be centralized into one unique number. Everywhere in the world. You’re having a heart attack paddling a canoe over the Orinoco? No problem, call 1-2-1. These days nobody should die of heart failure. Dying of heart failure was so 80s. It was like stumbling over a child’s rattle, then bumping your head against the stove. Dead. Bugger. Quite un-heroic.
     “Hi, honey.” That husky voice again.

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June 17, 2019 6:45 PM

The Longing (6)

“Satan.” He could go to hell for this. After all, it was a mortal sin he was committing. The three elements constituting one: grievous matter, sufficient reflection, full consent of the will – present, each of them. Okay, on closer inspection he might have been devoid of ‘sufficient reflection’. When he was standing at the foot of the stairs she didn’t give him a lot of time to ponder the consequences of what he was about to commit. That was true. He feels somewhat relieved. Yes, entering the gates of hell he would plead uncontrollable coercion. At the gates of hell, where it was inscribed: ‘Abandon all hope, you who enters here.” Shivers run down his spine. He looks at her. “Oh, Salomé, you come in different disguises,” he whispers.
     “Did you say something?” she asks, absent-minded. She’s looking at her fingers, stretching them, as if still comparing them with the squaw’s. Musing, as if he wasn’t there, as if lost in a reverie, she says: “It was all about the rhythm. A leopard moves that way. Muzzle high, raising his legs proudly, in control… If you’ve never seen a leopard go for the kill, you don’t know what tenderness is all about.” Then, suddenly realizing he’s there, next to her: “You know what I mean, Ben?”

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June 12, 2019 8:15 PM

The Longing (5)

We open our columns to talented new voices, who can send in (short) stories.

The first one is a short story by Eduardo Riccardo. It was some 30 pages he said, but now he tells us 'it would be more something like 50, even 60'. Hm. Okay. Only because we pity guys living on goat's milk and mountain herbs.

We publish it the old fashioned 19th century way: episodically.

(Part 5.)

Inside she takes off her shoes. Runs around, looking at the family pictures on the sideboard (“Cute.”), peeking into the kitchen-
     “There’s an Aga in here,” she shouts, as if he didn’t already know. Alice in Wonderland, he thinks. Last year Amber had to write a dissertation on Lewis Caroll, he’d helped her with it.
     “I like it. I’d never cook on one though. But they’re fine to look at. Blue, good taste. Marjorie’s choice, honey? Give her my compliments.”

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June 8, 2019 2:30 PM

The Longing (4)

We open our columns to talented new voices, who can send in (short) stories.

The first one is a short story by Eduardo Riccardo. It was some 30 pages he said, but now he tells us 'it would be more something like 50, even 60'. Hm. Okay. Only because it's a damn good one. And because we pity guys living on goat's milk and mountain herbs.

We publish it the old fashioned 19th century way: episodically.


(Part 4.)

“Well, come on, get on with it. Tell me how I’ll avoid Purgatory. Don’t want to simmer for a billion years. I don’t even know how to turn off a gas stove, for God’s sake.”
     “There’s venial sins and mortal sins,” he says. “Point is to avoid the mortal ones.” Neglecting the no smoking sign she lights another cigarette. “Three elements constitute a mortal sin: grave matter, full awareness, deliberate consent.” He still knows them by heart. Once, taking part in the Grand Conspiracy, against Betty whose parents ran the village pharmacy, he had skipped Wednesday afternoon’s catechism hour. Sister Alicia had made a lot of fuss about it.

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June 3, 2019 3:00 PM

The Longing (3)

We open our columns to talented new voices, who can send in (short) stories.

The first one is a short story by Eduardo Riccardo. It's some 30 pages. We publish it in the old fashioned 19th century style: episodically. Here's part 3!

(Part 3.)


After they’ve been served she tells him what remarkable features the boy had. Not exactly a face to be launched for direct commercial purposes; the agency would put him on at fashion shows. A world not entirely unknown to him, as his mother was a fashion designer. His father, a lawyer, was absent most of the time; the kid was in need of a strong hand in his life, someone to guide him.
    They had a couple of great weeks, then everything went awfully wrong. One morning he suddenly refused to get out of bed. He hated this fashion business, he said, he hated commercial departments, he hated sales altogether; all things considered, it was telling lies to get people to buy stuff they didn’t really need. He started eating vegan. While they always had such a great time at Mama Kelly’s.
    “Do you know Mama Kelly?” Eyes wide, suddenly. Northern lakes.
    “Not personally,” he says. He’s never heard of the place.
    “They’ve got marvellous chicken. Mar-ve-llous, really.” She stares at her hands, breathing in deeply, pulling her skirt straight. She looks as if she’s ready to massacre a whole chicken coop. She takes a napkin out of the holder, wipes her fingers.

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May 30, 2019 4:10 PM

The Longing (2)

We open our columns to talented new voices, who can send in (short) stories. We’ll publish them in episodes.

The first one is a short story by Eduardo Riccardo. It’s some 30 pages. Here’s part 2!

Now a
couple of readers asked us: who is this writer, this Riccardo? Where does he live? And, can we buy his book? Well, dear friends, there are a lot of things we can’t give away – the guy doesn’t want his front door under siege you know… -, but we can tell you this: the great Eduardo Riccardo resides in a mountain cabin somewhere in the North of Spain, living on a diet of goat’s milk and herbs. It stimulates the brain he says, and he’s not going to change it until the Nobel Prize committee knocks down his cabin door. Or at least the Booker guys. In meantime he offers this exciting story exclusively to our readers.

(Part 2.)


A week later there’s a Peter Lindbergh exhibition in the Rotterdam Kunsthal. Pictures of models - Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista. Vogue and Harper’s Bazar. She asks if he’d like to go with her. It’s one of the first mild days of the year. Early lilacs bloom.

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May 26, 2019 4:35 PM

The Longing (1)

The Hague, a bar. The westerly gale they’d announced was breaking, rain gushing against the large front windows, people in the back leaving their seats to have a look. He was sitting at the counter, alone, devoting his attention to the menu written on a blackboard against the wall; he was narrowing his eyes.
     It had been the way she said it. “Nothing to see. It’s only water.” As if it was an important statement, somehow, and she was waiting for his point of view on the matter; a point of view she expected him to give, but wouldn’t interest her at all. She had bumped against his arm, it could have been undeliberate. At first he refused to pay attention to it, almost having decoded two of the main courses, but there had been this husky, distracting tinge in her voice.
     “The cigar-club,” she added, the moment he turned around, as if there was a connection, somehow, with the rain pouring down. She pointed towards the rear; a group of women, maybe six or seven, sitting in Chesterfields; one of them waving in her direction. “Don’t pay attention to her,” she said, “she’s crazy.” “Do you happen to have any matches?”

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