Your heart will always lead you true.

She walked by the seaside. The air was humid and salty; she could taste the salt on her cracked lips. The day was close to its glorious end; the last show of colors was reaching its high note, only to abandon the stage for the sensations of night. She liked the night; it allowed the sense of smelling and hearing to paint a different view of nature.

She had missed day and night. The sea and the shore and the trees and all the stories the birds told to each other. The mid-July warmth and the color of the sky were distant memories, a bittersweet feeling engulfed her; for the first time in a long time she felt free.

Who knows how long it had passed? Who knows if time flows the same way here and there? Maybe it does, maybe the ten years she spend there were ten years lost here. Maybe she was lucky; and the ten years she had to survive there, were ten seconds here. If time passed the same way, she couldn’t tell anymore.

The Void sucked your soul; the darkness, the cold, the emptiness. It was no wonder it sucked time as well. The creepiness of the place, the harshness of the things she had to do to come back home were written in her dark eyes and heaved down her hair on her back. All the murders she committed could be counted in the grey of her hair, all the murders she avoided were scars on her skin.

How do you survive a place worse than Hell in one piece? How do you live through companion’s deaths and the loneliness of a forced hand? How do you keep yourself being yourself? You don’t.

How do you go on? She couldn’t tell what the others had to lurch on, what small light existed in their miserable mind to guide them forward. She could tell though what was that made her go on: home. She wished for her mother’s touch and her father’s food and her young sister’s endless chatter. She wished for the smell of tobacco late in the evening and her grandfather’s war time stories. She wished for the place she was safe and loved.

In the end her grandmother’s words were true: Your heart will always lead you true.

And now she was free.

Then she opened her eyes and knew that her heart had betrayed her. This wasn’t home, the city on top of cliff didn’t look like the village she grew in. She cried bitter tears, as she recognized his descriptions: a nameless City at the Edge of the World; that is how he had described it. He, he. The only person that didn’t try to stab her in the back, the only other person she could trust. The only other person that she ever felt safe with except her family.

There was always a longing in his presence; she felt like a piece of her old life had found her deep in the caverns of horror. The rare moments he laughed, a memory of music came back to her. Like sunshine in a rainy November morning. His eyes were imprinted in her soul, a sense of safety and love filled her. He left her though; he escaped before her, without her and left her feeling sad for herself.

The City at the Edge of the World seemed like a horrible and fascinating place to be. He always described it as something mythical, something wondrous; people there knew what the Void was. His own family had migrated generations ago, when they lost someone they cherished a lot in the mists of fate. The myth was that the city at the edge of the world was the only place in the universe where the mists of the here and there intercepted often, making the passage between the two worlds easier. His ancestors had thought that if they moved here, their lost child would find the way back to them easier.

But they died without finding their lost child again.

With a heavy heart she started walking towards the city. The twilight colors had replaced the sunset’s colors and when she entered the city the night was upon them all. It was a lovely night; and yet she felt numb. All the happiness of her being free was lost somewhere in the way.

A small part of herself wondered where she would stay, where she could go. What would she do? Was it easy to go to her small fishing village from here? Where exactly was the City at the edge of the world? She pushed her thoughts away and let her traitor heart lead her for a while longer. Without much attention she walked through a city that didn’t belong to her time; it was not hers to live in. Unfamiliar lights, sounds and smells invaded all her senses. This was not century, it was his.

Mindlessly, she ignored all the things she didn’t know. Aimlessly, she moved one foot after the other and before long she found herself to a new place, at the edge of the City at the edge of the world.

The cemetery was a quiet place with the tombs hanging a breath’s distance from the sea. The waves splashed beneath, a faraway echo just came up to her. Without being certain what she was looking for, she started moving up the rows of the dead, neatly put in their last resting place.

Why was she here? Deep in her heart she knew why she was here. She came to find him. Deep inside her, she knew he had lived and died, the way humans are supposed to do: in loving peace. And it was true, she found his grave. There was his name and his face in an old photo, one that depicted him young and carefree for forever, unlike how he was during his time in the void. He smiled. Next to him was a woman, tall and beautiful with happiness in her eyes instead of guilt.

A small part of herself felt content that he lived the life he deserved. Even if she wouldn’t meet him again.

All was for nothing? Did it worth it? A soft kiss they once had to lead her here? On the grave of him and his ancestors? Did she lose her family over hope in the cold? Tears stung in the corners of her ears; she had refused to cry the last decade of her life. Her feet carried her onwards, passing all the graves with his deceased family members. On the walk towards the past, she saw that his family name had suffered slight changes; its form and sound change till it was as familiar as her own name.

And at last, she reached the end of her journey. There she stood at the edge of the cliff, the weather eaten tombstones were barely recognizable, but she could tell it was them. There was the last home of her mother and her father; her bubbling sister had lived to be a hundred. Above their graves there was a saying written, one that was engraved in her heart: Your heart will always lead you true.

She was finally home.


Red sky in the morning

“Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. The dawn is promising, the day will be treacherous. We have to walk through the mists with care, but they can bring us the price we have longed for”. The Captain stood tall on the prow of the bridge, the mists already gathering around him. The early sun rays turned them red. Red as blood, red as rubies. The pirate crew cherished spilling blood and they longed for rubies. “An easy day isn’t waiting us, but if we go through the mists, then we will have all we looked for the last 10 years. “

The cheers of the sailors echoed over the still sea, but they were replaced soon by silence. The fog was becoming thicker with each passing moment. The cold seemed to sip through their skins and settle in their bones. As soon as the sun rose above the horizon, the red mists were gone and it could have already gone and they would never know. They could not see clear enough; the tip of their noses was the end of their world.

One-Eyed Joe went to the Captain. “This is not a normal mist”. A long pause followed. The Captain always thought it useless to confirm the obvious. Men should keep their words sparse as they can never be taken back. Also, he never repeated a command twice, so you better listen carefully, unless you wished for a swim with the sharks.

One-Eyed Joe continued: “Let us say, that this is indeed the fabled weather that will get us what we want. What will we do once the Bride of the Sea comes to us?”

“She will not come to us” the Captain corrected his Second in command. “She will sing and we will follow her instructions”.

The other man didn’t fear this moment as much as he should. He could not see anything on the sea, but he had faith that somehow his Captain will not lead them astray. He never had before, so why should he do it now?

“All right. We have good chances that we will navigate through this terrible weather and reach the Bride. Then what? How do we not get eaten? How do we get the treasure for ourselves?”

“We will persuade her” answered the Captain, as if it was obvious to everyone.

“But how?” an answer was never given. Even though he could not see any part of his Captain face, he suspected that the pirate was smiling one of his wicked smiles that made women swoon.

Hours in silence passed. The mist was so thick that you could pick up a knife and carve a nice, big piece out of it. No one dared to move and try it.

A woman’s voice broke the silence. It was sweet and at the same time every single man (and woman) on the ship felt ripples of fear traveling down their spines. She was calling them to her; they longed to go, but at the same time they feared the end.

“Row 10 degrees to the left” the Captain commanded and they started to move through the horrible weather.

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning, was what the old fish folk sang.

“What if we fail?” One-Eyed Joe dared to ask in a barely audible whisper.

The Captain hated to state the obvious. He wasted no breathe to say they would die.

Daughter’s boyfriend mistaken for burglar

The night was falling heavy on their little village. The Magician could not remember when the last time this occurred was. Excited about the magical event he decided to spend the night on his rooftop, along with his equipment and take notes on his book of magnificent observations.

What a day to be alive. According to his data the night was weighing 40 kilograms today, and if that was true, then they had a new world record. He could not wait to go to the Mage’s Guild tomorrow. The middle aged man could see with the eyes of his fantasy his colleagues. Glad with in their long robes of different colors, they would make the golden hall look like it was lit up by a rainbow. He would ring the bell on top of the podium and with a suave flick of his wand, he would start the presentation.

“The night was heavy…” would be his first words. Or maybe not. He had to find an opening phrase that enabled him to show off but not come across as unprofessional. He tried to work on his presentation, but excitement led him to the day his won the Nobelisius Prize in Magic and all the glory it would be bestowed on him and his descendants.

The Magician’s fantasy of a dinner consisted of salmon and attended by the most disguised men of his field, was interrupted by a noise in the backyard. Damn you! He thought annoyed. He was about to get funding for researching spells for avoiding flying water balloons. The cat, Mr Kippis, must have been playing around again. He had specifically told him that he was not allowed outside at night; maybe a passing troll would eat him. The cat of course gave him the middle finger and went on and on for about half an hour of how cats now days were oppressed by magical families.

With a sigh the Magician climbed down the ladder to check on Mr Kippis. A softer thud reached him again. Maybe a troll was indeed trying to eat the cat. For a moment he considered the possibility of letting the cat been eaten, but then he decided against it. His daughter would be mad at him.

Slowly he moved from the front of the house to the backyard, thinking of a good remark to tell to the cat. But it was not Mr Kippis who found lurking in his back yard, but a man dressed in black. Despite the warmth of the night he was wearing a black hat. The noises came from his efforts to open the kitchen door, that thankfully had locked himself a couple of hours ago.

With range bottling inside him the Magician lifted his wand and casted the first spell that came to his mind. The burglar (because what else could he be?) turned to a grasshopper in a cloud of blue light and red glitter.

Triumphully, he picked the grasshopper from the ground. The grasshopper tried to escape but the Magician pulled its little black hat over his antennas. Unable to see or sense anything of its surrounding, the insect-burglar stopped moving.

Once inside the house, the Magician flipped open the lights and shouted for his wife and daughter. “Pumpkins!” he yelled “Come down”.

“What is wrong darling?” his wife yawing from the kitchen door.

“I got a burglar!” he showed her the grasshopper in his hands. “He tried to open the kitchen door and I transfigured him to a grasshopper” finished his narration with pride in his voice.

His teen daughter joined them at that point. Mr Kippis trailed in the kitchen behind her. The cat looked amused and his whiskers moved with silent laughter. His daughter on the other hand looked puzzled at first, but then angered was evident on her face. With a sudden movement she grabbed his arm.

“What have you done?” she shouted while snatching the grasshopper away. She tacked it carefully in her hands. “Turn him back how he was”.

“No!” he protested. ‘He tried to break into our house and we will turn him to police”.

“He did not! Why would Dan try to break into our house?”

“Because he is a burglar”.

“Dan is not a burglar. He is training to be a Knight.” She explained to her father.

“Why would a Knight try to break into our place?” asked the Magician perplexed. His wife rolled her eyes and the annoying cat was laughing on top of the kitchen counter.

“He is my boyfriend, dad” told him with fury his young girl. “Now turn him back to normal or I will turn you to a frog and let Mr Kippis play with you

Pen and paper

Before she obtained her weapons, she would have never been able to imagine what she could do with them. Once a pen and a paper were in front of her she was capable of everything.

Dragons would crawl out of the tip of her pen and mountains of ink and words would feel the page. She would let her imagination run wild and conjure up castles, prisons and give flesh to happy faces.

Did she dream of clouds made out of marshmallows and flying chocolates? It was done.

Did she dream of a princess in high heels humiliating a prince wearing pink skirts? It was done.

Did she dream of bony witches slowing draining the blood out of young animals? It was done with a stroke of her pen.

Whatever she could ever dream or think of, it could be turned into reality. All she needed was a pen and paper.

The Boat of Life

I am living on a boat. The boat is small and cozy, made out of wood. When you look at it, you think that it will break down as easily as a stick. However, the boat has lasted long, longer that the majority thinks. My boat is older than the mountains and as young as the stars.

You might think that I am lying and you might be correct. But the boat is mine and I have lived my entire life there, it is old as I am. The boat has been my constant companion at my travels through the veils of reality into places where rules do not exist.

If you want to believe, you can. If you choose to believe me, then let me tell you a small and simple story; it is just a day of my life. I woke up on my boat and it was a foggy, cold morning. The cold sea was calm and nothing could make her move. My only wish for the day was to make a hot tea and look for islands in the horizon, buried under the weight of my soft, blankets.

When I was boiling the hot water, I looked out the small window of the cabin and saw a Viking boat passing by. Right now, you are rolling your eyes, laughing at me, thinking that it is impossible to see outside a museum a Viking boat. It is the 21st century, Vikings exist only in television. Let me assure you that you can see a Viking boat sailing by in these parts of the ocean. The other day I saw Titanic and two years ago I was chased by a pirate ship. Today it was a Viking boat.

I was afraid. Vikings do not have a good reputation, but I trusted my boat. All I had to do was to whisper to it my fear, to let its wood feel the tremble in my hand. “Please, my lovely boat, take me far away, somewhere warm and safe”. Why did I not stir the boat away? The answer is simple: sometimes you have to trust. You have to let yourself go and relax, to place your faith into someone else, more experienced than you, and your wish can come true.

I opened my eyes and all I could see was mist. We were sailing through the misty weather for a long time. Have they passed hours? Days? An eternity? I could not tell. All I could do was to wait, that was what I did.

I waited till it came into view. It was a huge castle on the seashore. It was tall and beautiful, and yet austere in its design. Steady rock was on its base and bright blue sky above it. I could hear bells in tolling in the distance and spices where in the air. I wish I could live there forever, but the boat is my life and I was drift along on it. The boat is my destiny and the vessel to my end of days. It navigates me through the storms of my life and lets me experience the world.

The people that have come and gone from my life have told me that the kind of life I lead is sad and lonely. It is full of wonders and yet no place exists to take roots. Some days I wonder why I did it, but I will tell you a secret, I will tell you how to be as old as the stars themselves. Trust the boat you were placed on and enjoy with all your soul the places it brings you. Do not forget it when you reach land, always go back to it and then you will never get old, you will never get bored. You will live forever.

The Key Charm

Laura cursed under her breath when the keys refused to get out of her pocket. It seemed to her that the 30 year old sparkling green lizard from Barcelona that served as key charm was in love with the fabric of her pocket. The little lizard was still adorning her key chain because it was one of those things that reminded her of her dead mother and not because it was useful. It was as old as she was, her mother had bought it during her honeymoon at Barcelona and had passed it on her elder daughter when she was old enough to have her own keys. Careful honey, she had been told, it is a special charm this one. It can grand you any wish you make. Keep it with care. Laura had believed her back then, but as she looked now the weather buttered lizard she wondered what was so special about them. Deep inside her, the little girl that Laura used to be, she wished that her mother was correct. She wished that the small sparkling key charm could get her in touch with her mother one more time, and get her away from her miserable life of the last months.

Finally, the keys left her pocket. Laura heard the fabric of jacket tear a bit and the young woman sighed resigned. Nothing in her life was going as it should be. Life was supposed to be easy, fun and full of adventures, the opposite of her situation the last six months. Christmas was almost here, and usually she would have been especially excited for her mother’s roast but this year she would eat a cold serve of turkey, alone at her place. Laura had a deadline to catch till the end of the year that occupied most of her time. Working every day, including weekends, left her exhausted at the end of the day. She did not complain though, as it kept her mind occupied.

Laura put the keys on the door of her apartment. She lived on the ground floor of an old, moldy building in the old city. On the other side of the old door a huge pile of dishes awaited her and the dust on the furniture was throwing a party with the hair on the floor, while the Christmas star overlooked the chaos from the window. By default Laura was not an untidy woman, but the last months all her energy was exhausted by work and grief.

As she turned the key the tired woman wished for another place to await her on the other side of the door, she wished one more time to be with the people she loved. She would have asked it from Santa Claus, but she was too old to believe in a man bringing gifts during night. She opened the door.

The sunshine pouring in the room from the widely open windows blinded her. She needed a couple of moments till her eyesight adjusted and then it took her a couple of minutes till the details of the room registered in her mind. The apartment she had just entered had nothing to do with her old and smelly place. It was clean and bright, a bit humid and filled with the smell of jasmine and freshly baked cookies. Perplexed, she looked behind her to see that the dark and moldy corridor was still there, cold and unfriendly. Then she turned around, fearing that the illusion of the sunny apartment was gone, but it was still there welcoming her in another world.

Carefully, she took a step inside fearful that the ideal place will disappear forever. It might be a dream. If she pinched herself she would wake up, right? Fortunately, the place did disappear, but her arm hurt. She started rubbing her arm, while she stepped inside. Gaining confidence she decided to explore the space. The decoration was exquisite and the flowers on top of the coffee table were fresh. Next to them she spotted Spanish literature, she recognized some of the titles from her mom’s library. Whoever lived in that place she had a good taste in books and cookies. Laura could smell in the air cinnamon cookies, her favorite.

She moved close to the window. The sun was high in the sky and no clouds were visibly, the complete opposite of the weather and time in Köln. But it made some sense, as she was no longer in Köln. The center piece of her view was the Sagrada Familia looming unfinished in the horizon over the rows of the buildings. Somehow her wish for another place came true.

“Who are you?” asked a strangely familiar voice. It sounded as if it belonged to another place and time, as it was pulled out of her memories. Laura uncertain turned around to face the owner of the place. Of course it belonged to someone, why was she so surprised now?

“Who are you?” demanded an answer the young woman, but Laura was speechless. She faced her mom. The lean, tall figure with the same dark brown eyes as Laura’s belonged to her mom. What really surprised her was that the mom she faced was the same as the smiley mom from her honeymoon pictures and not the same she had last seen in the hospital. Somehow, Laura was facing the younger version of her mom, and she realized that for Christmas she had gotten all her wishes. Maybe the little key charm was special.

The dog

“Poor dog” was all that Noora could think while staring at the famous painting.*  It was a painting of bleak dark brown colors and harsh nothingness. The dark sky was occupying most of the canvas and at the bottom a sand hill was prominent. The darkest part of the scene was the dog’s head. The dog was drowning in the sand and was almost completely lost to its depths.

Most likely her boyfriend would have said that the sand hill is the emotions that trapped your soul and the dog is the man who is crushed under the weight of dreams, hopes and passions tat will never be fulfilled. Noora’s major in studies was magical creatures and the only thought that occupied her mind while staring at the painting was poor dog.

Her musings were interrupted by the arrival of one classmate that unfortunately had travelled together to Madrid. Veera was a very mean person but exceptionally good at spells, something that generally made her character even more insufferable. “What are you thinking?” she asked her in a voice of concern and interest in her feelings.

The fact that Veera showed compassion to her should have raised an alarm inside her head. But she was still captivated by the suffering of the illustrated dog to think of anything else. “Poor dog” she whispered sadly”.

“You can help him!” cried with excitement Veera and clapped her hands. Before the other girl had any chance of even thinking to ask her for clarifications, she whispered under her breath “Kotilla on perjantain!”**.

Noora’s vision changed. Or to be more precise her surroundings changed. All the colors melted out of the Museum’s objects and paintings and become a whirl of vividly colored waters. Then they were replaced by darker shades, of brown and black and they started forming objects around her.

And as suddenly as all had started, it ended. She was dizzy and when she opened her eyes, she needed a couple of minutes to adjust to the new surroundings. The sky was brown with clear markings of a painting brush crossing through it and the hill sand was a nice mixture of grains and dried paint. Even her body looked like a coal sketch.

Suddenly she heard a dog whimper in the distance. Noora started her difficult walk towards the source of the sound and after a period of time that felt like eternity, she reached the dog. It was trapped till its neck, struggling to not be devoured by the sand.

Without thinking of her own weird situation or the implications of her actions, the young girl grabbed the dog by its jaw and pulled with all her strength. It was not an easy task, she almost submerged herself in the sand three times. But after a long struggle she freed the poor dog.

The dog was a bit older that a puppy, not fully grown yet. It jumped up and down, waving its long black tail with happiness. As it tried to lick her face and hug her in its doggy fashion by putting its paws on her shoulders, it almost caused them to get trapped in the moving sand once again.

“Stay still! Sit!” Noora commanded and let some of her magic power fill her voice, something that was enough to successfully calm the dog. “What are we going to do?” she thought out loud while scratching the dog behind the ears.

Noora was good in handling magical and not creatures but she was hopeless in spells. She tried to think of her courses at the Academy and a way to reverse Veera’s magic, but her mind was a blank canvas.

They sat next to each other, dog and girl, gazing into the unchanging horizon. They were trapped in the painting forever, there was no way to alter its reality from within the story it told. They were destined to sit there and stare at Goya’s brown sky till the end of the days.

The pulling out of the painting was as unexpected as the trapping in it. The feelings and the changes in the surroundings were the same as before, something that meant that Veera decided to free her from the trap. The canvas’s colors washed away and its reality was replaced by Museo del Prado.

Noora was standing in between her angry boyfriend and amused Veera. The little bitch was so content with herself, she was exuberant with happiness. “Oh, my dear Noora! You are in so much trouble…”

“Me?” cried Noora so loud and angrily that a lot of tourists turned their heads to spot the imminent fight. “I was not the one who trapped my classmates into a painting!”

“No!”, replied with infuriating calm Veera “but it was you who destroyed a masterpiece”. With that she pointed behind Noora’s back to Goya’s painting. Noora turned around and horrified she noticed that the dog’s head was not in the painting anymore.

For the first time since her return to the museum Noora noticed the black dog wiggling its tail next to her and barking happily.


* The painting is Goya’s dogs or in spanish El Perro. It can be found in Museo del Prado in Madrid.

**Sorry if you are Finnish speaking, I know that the sentence does not make any sense. 😀