‘There’s someone at the door’

Boy at window

There was no time to brace himself. The air pressure blew him down the stairs and his head hit the floor. The last thing he saw, was a cloud of gravel and stones which swallowed Niko’s outstretched hand. A scream got lost in his throat.

Panting, Bran shot upright. His hair stuck to his forehead and his cheeks were glowing. Breathe in, breathe out. He swung his legs over the edge of the bed. The cold shot through his feet and the haze disappeared. Next to him, a sigh escaped from his wife’s mouth. Her arm was lying protectively on her big belly.

Bran got up, walked to the dresser in the corner and opened one of the drawers. His fingers found the gemstone effortlessly, and he felt the smooth surface. He closed his eyes and saw how his childhood friend proudly handed him the reddish-brown present. Fascinated, they had stared at the golden glittering, as if they now owned a piece of starry sky forever. It was the day before the blow.

In the hallway, a floorboard cracked, followed by a hesitant squeak of Petar’s door. Bran’s eyes shot open and his heart rate accelerated. Suddenly he realised he hadn’t woken up because of his nightmare, it was the bang of a door that had helped him escape Sarajevo.

Quietly, he pushed down the door handle. The hall seemed deceptively calm. Within three steps, he had reached his son’s bedroom, but he was sure he hadn’t left the door open that far. Holding his breath, he peeked around the corner. Even in the dark, he could see a tall figure next to Petar’s crib, his hands leaning on the wooden edge.
Bran ran into the room and grabbed the intruder by the shoulder.

‘Sami!’ he called out in shock when the boy turned his face towards him. ‘What are you doing here?’

His Syrian upstairs neighbour seemed anything but surprised to see Bran.
‘There’s someone at the door.’


Another scene I wrote about my character Bran (I introduced him in my previous post). This time, the assignment for the Writers Academy (Schrijversacademie) was to write an opening scene that showed my character’s emotional state.