Nature’s emotions


The living room door opened and Emily turned around. Her eyes widened when she saw James coming in.

‘Sorry, I’ve got to go,’ she mumbled to Rose. Before she could reply, Emily walked passed James, into the hallway, out of the front door and across the driveway. The gravel protested under her feet, a brutal disturbance of a street at rest. Emily started to regret she still went to see them this late at night.

She sprinted around the corner towards her bike, where she got swallowed by darkness. Startled, she looked up, but none of the street lights were on. It felt as if they had mutually agreed that whatever would happen down here wasn’t meant for anyone else’s eyes.

Emily groped for the keys in her bag. She anxiously looked up at the house, but the darkness obstructed her view. She finally found her key chain and her shaking hands tried to insert the right key into the lock.

The moment the lock jumped open, she heard a door. Once more, the crushing of the grey-white pebbles and footsteps rushing closer. The lack of lights seemed to enlarge every sound.

Emily swung her leg over the saddle and pushed with all her strength. Her bike started moving: she bounced off the sidewalk, onto the road and into the dark street. Centimetres turned into metres, and in the distance, she saw one lamppost, a bright spot in the darkness.

With a shock, her bike halted, Emily’s foot slipped from the pedal and her chest bumped into her handlebar. The light of the lamppost flickered one more time before it went out as well.


I wrote this scene as an assignment for the Writers Academy (Schrijversacademie). It was a great way to find out how choosing the right landscape/decor can reflect your character’s emotions (max 300 words).

Mini & Maxi – style experiment

Mini & Maxi

Minimalists versus maximalists – character is walking down the street – 3x 150 words

First (spontaneous) variant:
The September sun was almost out of sight when Emily left the police station. She regretted she hadn’t been able to find out anything about Lisa and her dad. Why did he suddenly appear?

Preoccupied, she walked along the gravel path towards her bike, but even before she reached it, she noticed the flat tire. Another great thing to add to the list. She sighed and continued her journey towards the train station. Oh well, maybe she should see it as a bit of time for herself. How often did she have any of those lately?

She looked around with renewed interest. Most people seemed to be heading home as quickly as possible. Only a few noticed what Emily saw: how the chestnuts were provocatively swinging above their heads. A little tuck from the wind would be enough for a surprise attack from Mother Nature.

Minimalistic variant:
Emily left the police station. She hadn’t been able to find out anything about Lisa and her dad today. She walked towards her bike, but it had a flat tire. Emily sighed and walked along in the direction of the train station.

She looked around at her fellow pedestrians. They all seemed to be heading home as quickly as possible. She was one of the few who noticed the chestnuts hanging on the trees above them. They could fall down any minute.

Tall story to tell in a bar:
Yesterday I finally finished work around 7pm, so I’m leaving the police station. What do you think? My bike has a flat tire!  Obviously, that sucked. It’s only a ten-minute walk to the train station, but still.

So I walk along the Rijnburgersingel and I see a young lad with a couple of friends. They were playing around with a football, so they didn’t really pay attention where they were going.

At some point, one of those boys kicked the ball real hard and it bounced off that big chestnut tree that’s standing there in the corner. Tick tick tick tick! The chestnuts come rushing down, right on top of the lad’s head! He didn’t know what hit him. Well, next time he’ll think twice before picking a fight with Mother Nature.

Sense & Sensibility: the Wonderful World of Writing Assignments

As some of you know, I joined a writing course at the Writers Academy (Schrijversacademie) last January. So far, it’s been lots of fun and very inspiring. I just love experimenting with different perspectives, flashbacks, characters, etc. From spying on people at the train station, to making up entire lives for classmates I haven’t seen since I left primary school; every week we’re getting different tasks to challenge ourselves.

Sometimes I wonder how I can keep coming up with something original every time, but in the end, the assignments are set up in such a way, I generally end up at a part of my brain which spits out something useful. 😉

Anyhow, I decided to start sharing some (translations) of my writings, beginning with the first module “Develop your own style”. During this module, we practiced how landscapes/decors and objects can contribute to your character’s story, how you get totally different scenes when you change the tell tone, and how to use associations based on your senses.

Sense & Sensibility

Sharpen your senses – table scene, sensory details – 300 words

Emily turned over in her bed. The pillow got stuck to her neck and the blanket pressed against her restless body. She sighed, rose and threw her legs over the edge.
It had been two hours, but she hadn’t had any sleep yet. She quietly slipped across the hallway and down the stairs. The steps squeaked slightly, but no reaction came from Lisa’s or Jesse’s bedroom.

Hopeful she opened the fridge, looking for something to eat. The light blinded her and she closed the door quickly. Suddenly she heard the floor crack behind her. Her heart missed a beat and she turned around. She recognised Lucas’ silhouette immediately.
‘Sorry,’ he whispered, ‘I didn’t mean to scare you.’ He took a few steps towards her and she smelled the familiar blend of his sweet body scent and aftershave.

At the same speed with which he had appeared, Emily’s body had woken up. Her heart pounded in her throat and her palms were sweating. She wanted to run away, but even more, she wanted to disappear into his arms.

Somewhat dazed, she sat down at the table. Fortunately, he couldn’t see how red her cheeks were in the dark. She heard how he opened the fridge behind her and how he busied himself with some food. When he finally sat next to her, he put a cheese sandwich in front of her. The bread was cut into eight perfectly symmetrical, cut-out cubes.

The tension fell off her and Emily shook her head, smiling. The everydayness of his gesture… as if he was used to doing it for her on a regular basis. She looked at him and saw the sparkle in his eyes she had missed so much.