Travelling on Friday evening from Stuttgart to Villach, Austria, there were no seats free in any of the train carriages, so I joined a few other passengers on the floor. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds, really – the trains in Germany are fairly clean and the floor is carpeted, at least I didn’t have to worry about my derrière getting sore. An hour or so later, I realised, happily, that sitting on the floor was, in many ways, better than sitting up there on the seats. I could stretch out my long legs completely and adjust my sitting position to my liking. I could also observe my fellow passengers unobtrusively and from a different angle — how interesting it is to observe humans when they don’t know they are being watched!
One thing I have realised, after a few years of writing in the hopes of creating that one masterpiece, is that happiness is detrimental to creation. Not the fleeting kind of joy we get from the small pleasures in life, but the all-consuming happiness that arises from contentment. Happiness just does not provide a fertile-enough mind in which ideas can grow. Though happiness is the final goal every person strives to reach, for an artist, the journey is more rewarding than the goal. The minute an artist gets the impression that he is happy, that he is content, he stops. Rather, his creativity takes a long pause to revel in the newly-achieved happiness and puts a full-stop to the process of generating ideas.
She saw the man sneaking into her garden, headed for the rampions. She sighed. ‘Not again,’ she thought. ‘Weren’t the ones he stole last night enough?” She went down to the castle’s garden and waited for him by the wall.
She didn’t have to wait for long. He came back in a couple of minutes, his arms full of violet rampions. He had a relieved look on his face, which quickly changed to one of terror as she stepped out of the shadows.
“D…Da…Dame G…Gothel!” he stuttered in fear. The rampions fell out of his trembling hands and rolled on the ground around his feet.
“Yes,” she snapped. “How dare you steal anything from my garden! And the rampions, no less! I spend months cultivating them and you steal them all, night after night. You shall pay for this!”
The faint sound of laughter and the clink of glasses with a background score of a popular song crashed against my ears as the door to my room opened, and was abruptly cut off as it closed.
Breathe, I reminded myself.
Musk, wood, and a hint of an undeniably male scent permeated the air, pushed into the room by the gust of air caused by the closing door.
The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I could feel a shiver go down my spine.
I waited in anticipation, the palms of my hands becoming slick with sweat. Any moment now…
I felt the bed dip as he sat down on the other end. There was a rustling sound as he slid across the bed towards me. His breath, quick and shallow, warmed the side of my neck.
I turned, slightly, towards him. In the dim candlelight, I could just about make out the contours of his face. The high forehead; the straight nose; the chiseled jaw, covered, I imagined, with a light stubble; the lips relaxed in a slight smile. I imagined his eyes, black as obsidian, glittering in the light.
Breathe! I reminded myself shakily. His calloused hand ghosted across my neck as he moved my tresses to the side, his lips following his fingers.
His hands travelled slowly over my shoulder…down my arm…circled my small waist, pulling me back to rest against his broad chest.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Outside, an owl hooted loudly. I jumped, startled by the sudden sound. He chuckled, the laugh rumbling in his chest against my back.
And then, suddenly, there was pure chaos.
Here, I ask you to choose. There are four different endings to the story:
If you believe the story should proceed as normal, choose the first. If you want to be shocked, choose the second. If you want to be pleasantly surprised, go with the third. And if you are inclined towards believing that every story has a twist, choose the fourth. But, under no circumstances, should all four be chosen and read one after the other. Make your choice now.