Peter Veen is a copywriter, writer and visual artist. He has more than 1500 pages of non-fiction to his name, made an exciting boys’ book of ‘Sailing – the new guide for sailors’, wrote advertising texts for all kinds of companies and governments, published poems and stories in several magazines, made a furore on Twitter with his ultra-short rural experiences and exhibited dozens of high-profile installations together with Saskia Boelsums. At the moment he focuses on writing very short stories and photography. In both disciplines he searches for a simple approach that derails almost unnoticed.
Every week -mostly on Sundays- you can read a new very short story on the blog (Dutch only for now). Special photos appear occasionally on the photo page, daily photos you can see on Instagram. You are welcome as a follower or a friend.
For an art assignment, exhibition, reading session, training commercial writing, business texts, help with your own writing and other interesting things: post @ peterveen. nl or call +31 6 542 723 15.
Some short, short stories/flash fiction
I walk here because there is a path. If the path were somewhere else, for sure I would be walking there.
“Good morning,” he says, a tall man on boots on the muddy forest path walking three meters behind his dog.
“Good morning,” she says, a small woman on boots on the muddy forest path walking a few paces behind the man and sometimes completely disappearing behind him as I saw them coming from afar and did not know for sure whether there were one or two people walking towards me.
It is a long word, good morning, unspeakably long.
“Hi,” I greet them back, but pronounce it slowly so it doesn’t sound short. Does not soud rudely short. The dogs smell each others butts. Wag their tail.
It looks like a tuft of grass in the middle of an asphalt road. Gone astray, stuck to a horseshoe and after a while fallen off again, smashed by a tractor tire, loosened from a profile sole that splashed through a puddle on the road. Nice contrast, I think, this wet green grass and the matte grey of the asphalt. I grab my phone out of my pocket and step onto the road to take a picture. When I kneel down, the grass gains more shape and a structure emerges, the blades become legs, wings. The green changes colour and becomes a bit blueish, and my eyes that deserve +1.00 glasses now see a grasshopper that has been squashed. Death is always close by in the countryside. I take the picture and walk on. Everything is different if you take a closer look or wear glasses.
“There is a fence around the meadow, so I don’t care what they do, as long as they are fat and healthy when I have them slaughtered. And whether they like hip-hop or classical music, vote right-wing or left-wing, are communists or fascists, I couldn’t care less.”
“So actually they are free.”
“They are, yes, in fact they are.”
His laughter hits me like a blizzard and freezes goose bumps on my arms. Suppose, I think, this world is our pasture. And it is not my flesh that someone is waiting for, but something eats out my soul as soon as I die. And robbed of every treasure, I scatter to dust, dissolve in a cold and empty universe.
When I think of this, I’m scared. Yes, that is what I said. Scared.
The apple that you take a bite out of, but in the resistance of the skin you feel that something is not right, then take a look and discover a sticker that tries, with minuscule characters, to tell you a message you can’t read, but probably says which brand of apple it is, after which you tear off the thing that sticks to your fingers so that, after shaking it off at the edge of the trash can, you first wash your hands and then also the apple to get rid of the remaining glue, before you carefully put your teeth in the apple again.
Sometimes a dead man comes along. Unannounced like a rain shower on a summer’s day. A chill accompanied by tears, a hole in time that opens, then slowly fills up with daily things like driving, eating and walking the dog. I pull my boot up out of the mud clay and see how the mud flows back, the space that briefly existed now being swallowed. Until I take another step and force the next hole by sinking away, pulling loose and walking on. When I look back after a hundred meters, not a trace from where I came. Sometimes someone who has died a long time ago touches me, until I move, the hole closes and I forget, forget to remember, can’t even remember.
I hide myself in words, in a cheerful song that, sung out aloud, reverberates between the mountains and through the valley where I know you live and sit outside your house on this beautiful autumn evening and listen to the sounds from the distant mountains, look up when through the singing of the birds a buzz touches your ear and the scent of far away words awaken your heart, so that you get up and whistle my sounds back to the mountains, where, when I hear them, in my turn sing new words of joy and happiness and rush through the bushes trying to find my way into the valley where you listen to the birds in front of your house and sometimes, if you are hit by a tone, grab a flute and play back your sound, add it to the mountains where I clamber down, eager to release my breath in a song, for good in a wonderful two-part song.
Farewell, farewell. The song sneaks in without my noticing. Hides in my brain and makes itself heard while I shower, drive my car, type my emails. Even when I suddenly wake up at night, the song is still singing loud and clear. It whines, wears holes in my head. Farewell, farewell. Because the song will now be my unwanted companion for days to come, I google the lyrics. Since I already know the melody and see the words in front of me, I might as well learn the chords. Farewell, farewell. C G D. I gently sing along.
How long have you been a couple, when in a bistro both of you order croquettes with brown bread and while waiting you both empty a bottle of bitter lemon through a straw?