Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Tag: children

Bright White Conversation

“It’s going to be alright.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s not going to bother you much longer.”

You had not been aware that anything was wrong. You have just settled in, here.

The child touches your arm in a gesture that is obviously meant to echo the way someone comforted them, but the child is not old enough to have experience with this and just pats you awkwardly.

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s going to be alright. Promise.” The child looks at the watch on your arm and tries to decipher it.

You do not know what is going to be alright.


Previously: /2014/02/24/midnight-conversation/

Stoplight Conversation

You meet a child who knows what you’re thinking. The walk-light has just gone red.

“Have we met before?” you say. “Are you lost?”

“Yes, and no. To both questions. You’re confused now, a bit alarmed. You’re trying to think about anything but That Thing, but you’re circling the topic so narrowly that I can see the shape of it in your mind.”

You look away.

“That’s a naughty word.”

“I want you to–”

“–stop doing that.” The child sighs. “Yes, I know. You needn’t think such mean things about me, you know. It’s not like I can help it.”


Image courtesy of The Thrusting Sensations

Image courtesy of The Thrusting Sensations, who have a facebook page:, and a website:

Rock-dust litters the streets of a city on the same latitude as Rome and the Gobi Desert. Abandoned cars are parked in great clots; the cars are all identical. They are big and silver and they are family cars, and one or more children have jumped out of these cars to join the children of the city. On the ground, small dust-particles are carried away by stray crenellations of spilt water or gasoline; the smallest particles are still hanging in the air, and there is the bustle of a town busy creating more of them, a distant clink of metal against rock, metal against rock, metal against rock again.

It is the children who carve the stones, and it must have been they who brought all the stones into the city in the first place, from the surrounding forest. There must be dormant stones there, and trees that bend out of the way when the boulders come rolling. The trees, then, root themselves back firmly into the ground.

At first it was just one stone. There is a picture floating around from that first morning, with an angry and incredulous woman pressing her useless hands against a 50-tonne rock standing in her driveway, between her car and the street. She lifts herself from the ground with her efforts, and the rock remains, violently, perfectly still. The next morning, three more stones neatly and deliberately prohibited anyone from leaving that whole street by car. The working adults of that neighbourhood had dressed in their work clothes and simply commuted that day and the next, but the following morning there was a stone guarding every bus stop in a mile-wide radius. At this point, the stones were mostly jagged and pyramidal, cut-off but smooth, as if broken off a very long time ago from a larger structure.

Some of the stones have cracks in them clean through, after tired frustrated and tiny hands making mistakes. While a stone is still being carved, children will crawl all over it, chipping away at select chunks of stone in concert. Other children hammer large pieces of rock that fall off into rock-dust; they wear paper masks over their faces for this.

The children carve faces into these stones, or, they carve one face into them: a round, masculine face with a large nose, and full lips, and hollows for eyes. It is as if they all know this man and capture him in different moods, with a caricaturistic flair added to give the stone life. But whether seething, serene, smirking or sulking – it is the same face. One of the larger stones depicts this unidentified male, his mouth set into a firm line and one shoulder raised from the asphalt, as though he is rising from the middle of the street as a man coming out of the water. The white painted line in the middle of the road goes right through his neck.

There are still cars coming through the city, though their main arteries are blocked, and they inch along on capillary systems and on novel routes. One citizen has opened her garage and knocked out the back wall to let people through. There is a passage in the North of the city where two stone faces stare at each other and any driver must slow to a crawl to pass through, their car’s wing mirrors folded back like the ears of a frightened animal.

Forest is being cleared in two sweeping arches; the highway is projected to be finished by early next spring.


There is an empty bedroom and a trail of dropped blankets, teddy bears and stuffed dolls leading out through the door, which is ajar, into the living room. The trail disappears but is taken over by footprints. The TV is on, hissing static and snow into the room like an open window in a storm. The tiny sole-marks are almost oversnowed now, but there is another, larger, set of prints around them. Both sets lead into the machine. There is a thick rope, too, tied to one of the legs of the marble coffee table. It is stretched taut now.

What You Left Behind

You have left something behind, quite carelessly. I locked it in your old abandoned room, because that room smells of you (pine trees, heather), and I would think that this thing you left behind would be calmed by that. It just thrashes around, emitting a high-pitched screech at the edge of my hearing, like something blurring in and out of focus. Why did you leave this behind, so carelessly? It even looks like you. You should have taken it with you. I’m sleeping in the treehouse tonight. You have a key. I expect this thing to be gone by morning.

Do Not Enter

You come into our family like a tumour, growing viciously. Five years ago she had cancer, this feels exactly the same. I’m 14 now, you shouldn’t be here. They will forget me. The librarian gives me that look that people give me sometimes, when I ask her what section I should trawl through. I tell her you asked me to, she asks for your phone number. I give her my own number and hope that she won’t hear my pocket buzz. This is the first time I am put on a watchlist because of you. It won’t be the last.