Six Word Stories (13)

I used to choose a seat closest to the doors, in the single cubbies to either side of the true passenger compartments.

“Why do you sit here all alone? It’s dangerous for a single girl.”

I had never thought of it as dangerous before the question. I enjoyed the nods and light conversation with strangers. Many of them dressed roughly, carrying bikes, or oversized backpacks.

I remember one early morning two backpacking couples joined me in the cramped space. The men sat on the ground closest to the sliding doors. I moved my backpack to make room for the two women, tired and clearly already stressed. They didn’t speak Dutch or French or even German, but their chitchat was earnest and careful.

One man wished me well on my journey in English, nodding at my bag as proof I was a kind of comrade, before departing.

The contrast from those small cubbies to the larger passenger compartments with row after row of benches is striking. Few words are ever spoken. Everyone keeps their heads bowed, their minds busy on themselves, appearing to ignore everyone else on the commute. Even so, with the clatter of the train, the call of the ticket master, and the shuffle of shoes, there is a strange companionship.

I have spent quite a few hours waiting on train platforms. In the early morning, or late in the evening, I have found them to hold a strange peace.

Everyone has somewhere, and nowhere to go. Everyone is expectant, yet bored. Isn’t that just like life can be?

I would finally reach my destination in the shadows of night. Night grows and shrinks things. It hides and reveals. It is a different world than daylight, and many people fear it. But I don’t. I know that is only because I have been kept safe. I am blessed.

Night has always been my refuge. Not a time of hiding, but a time of quiet. A time when others retreat, leaving the streets almost empty. The dirt of the day is pushed to the sides, and lays waiting for the morning to come. It’s hidden in the shadows, but it still whispers to the world all the stories it holds. Every cigarette butt, every discarded coffee cup that missed the trash can. Even the caked on muck, scraped from boots at the end of the day. It will all tell you a story, if you only stop and listen.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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One More Time

She poses, one hand at her waist, one lifted as if to invite a question. One skate blade poised, toe and tip to ice. The other is ready to propel her body into motion.
She stands there, frozen, every muscle straining then relaxing, waiting. Then it comes, gentle notes drifting out of her deep and buttoned coat pocket.

Arms move with grace to the music only she can hear. Sturdy legs propel her forward, around in a steady half spin, and stop. She bows to the woods. There is no human in sight to witness this dance on ice. The snow-ladened evergreens shimmer in the bright sunlight, the naked birch is unafraid to bare all its beauty.


More notes come. Arms and legs now work as one to propel her form across the sheet of ice. The air smells of cold crystals, mixed with sun. Her own breath reveals its presence in puffs of white.


“Count Mary Ann.” She speaks to herself in the quiet.
“One, and two, then stop. Three, then four, and glide.”


Bare fingers stretch to the sky as one, a gentle turn while holding speed. One leg lifted ready, arms controlled but relaxed. Speed perfect, she punches the ice with power. The tip of her skate kicking up an ice shower. For a split second she is free of the earth, then down to touch the ice again. One rotation, but well done. Balance perfect, arms out and poised. The tones from her pocked lifted with her to spin and again down, slowing. Now they resemble the slow trickle of a stream, gentle and playful.


Wind sends the naked branches into a gentle clatter. Her steps become skips across the ice. Build speed, turn, then building again.


“One more time!”
Her heart beating faster, her breath fogging the air behind her, her toque threatening to fall away, but ignored.
“One and two and, oh!”


The blade of her skate finds ripples she had carved in to the ice some days ago. The uneven surface jolts her sideways and down she falls. Bare hands stop her face from touching the ice sheet. They are red from cold. The air chilled them as she moved through her dance and now pressed to the ice, it stings. The surface a beautiful shimmer but biting.


A deep sigh pushes itself from her chest out in to the daylight. She closes her eyes. An unexpected fall. Checking her lumps. One, two, three, four. Jared, but all in the right place.
“It’s okay, Mary Ann. One more time.”


She pushes herself up, a slide and a momentary wobble are evidence her internal rhythm needs righting. Once firmly on the blades of her skates face to the sun, she checks her pocket. The phone is still in one piece. Time to start the song over again.


Ruby red fingers fumble for a moment as again a guest of wind rattles the branches. There clatter is the only sound until in the distance, a dog barks. The others will come soon, there is a need to hurry.


One more time around before the boys take to the ice, sticks in hand. James has promised to bring her hockey stick out for her. She will soon need to change her white skates for the black pair, waiting by the rough-cut log stools.


Breath in, breath out. Pose, one hand on waist, one hand in questioning greeting, toe out.
As the notes once again hum from her pocket, just for her, so starts her dance, only viewed by the trees that line the west side of the rink.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Six Word Stories (12)

An artist can’t help but leave a part of themselves within their work, whatever form it takes. That is the beauty of art.

I also believe that of creation, and the laws the universe follows. The Creator leaves his fingerprints within every law, truth, and formation in the universe.

Have you ever really noticed the beauty of a frozen pond? Dance on the ice all you want. Chisel it, cut groves. Every frozen ripple tells a story.

But when it’s time, and the sun shines warm, the water will flow again. Is it aware of the imprints it once held?

Words represent ideas, and they flow like water. Their affects travel father then we might think. Be careful with them.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Lavender (A Dribble)

Lavender crushed between finger and thumb. Only one blossom. The scent gentle but true, only for the person holding it.
Squeezed tighter and then rubbed together. Another whiff of scent. Calmness, a brief shaking stilled.
“Thank you.”
She turned back to the house.
“Carmen, down off the counter.”
“But, Mom!”

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

A dribble is the modern term used for a story of exactly 50 words. The art of micro-fiction is something I am trying to learn. I don’t always get it right. To bubble the whole of a story into so few words takes something special.

I would love to hear from you if you write short fiction in any form. How do you make your stories a whole, and not just single seen?

To somehow tell the story without telling the story is part of it. Is there more behind it?

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Birth

Arms around me,
holding tight.
Eyes over shoulders,
breaths just right.

Seconds as hours.
“Focus on me!”
Pain with purpose,
a family of three.

Seconds blurred,
moments etched.
My mother’s heart,
pulled, stretched.

“Little one, it’s just
you and me.
We can do this.” Push!
One, two, three.

Gush of ending,
purple and blue.
Rubbed til pink,
each breath it grew.

Birthing a miracle,
forming a bond.
Skin to skin,
suckle, respond.

Heart stopping love,
eyes shimmer true.
Drowning myself
in him, me, and you.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Six Word Stories (11)

Red is the color of so many things. Holly berries, rose’s, valentine hearts. Red is also the color of loss. Red is the color of grief. Red can be the color of hope.

Some women are relieved by the color red. Some are heart broken. For some it’s a mixture of the two, a sweet painful cocktail of red.

As the world grieves losses, what-ifs and separations, our words mean so much more. May we use their power to build up, rather than tare a part.

The beauty of simple things hide in the strangest of places. Have you wondered what sights a cigarette butt has witnessed? Or what about the frayed fiber from a jacket, pulled free and discarded?

I wonder what stories they could tell us, if they had voices?

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photo’s sources from usplash.

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When Creativity Looks Like Doing Nothing.

Do you consider lying around as lost time?
Many kinds of creativity happen chiefly in our thoughts.

It takes a massive amount of just sitting and thinking to create new worlds for a book.
Paintings start in the mind before coming to life on canvas.
A sculptor must visualize the goal before the first cut or chisel.
Creativity can look a lot like doing nothing. I know mine often does.

What about yours? Are you giving your mind a space to create?
My kids often slouch in their chairs, roll their eyes at me and say. “I’m so bored!” In reply, I laugh. “Ha! Good, your growing brain cells. Now go play.”

Quiet thinking, being bored, is good for creativity. It forces us to find something. That’s when a potted plant becomes an unexplored island, or a spoon on the table, a boat lost at sea. Without that initial boredom, our brains wouldn’t feel the need to create stimulation on their own. Boredom can be a beautiful beginning.

Are you ready to make space to be bored? As an adult, I find it’s difficult. I have many things seeking my attention, it’s hard to sit and think.
Busyness can overwhelm. When this happens, we can look like we’re bored, but is really procrastination.
Personally, that means I’m experiencing performance anxiety. I fear I won’t be able to do something, so I’m afraid to even try. This looks like sitting around drumming my fingers. It looks bored, but it’s not, and it’s never a good thing. I am not advocating for it. When I learn how to overcome this stumbling block, I will let you know. (Don’t hold your breath waiting for me. It might be hazardous to your health.)

But I no longer find times of quiet, wasted time. I don’t continually need to fill my space with sound. I close my eyes and think. Listen to the sounds of the world. It is as pleasurable and inspiring as music. When was the last time you tried sitting and doing nothing?

I encourage you to find time during your week to practice a few moments of it. Let the dancing dust in a ray of light turn to fairy tales. Let the squeak of a rocking chair shift in to the swing of wood. Watch the wind through the trees. Listen to the chitchat of your kids. You might find inspiration there you didn’t expect. You might find a moment’s peace. Cherish it. It’s worth more than gold.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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The Day I Prayed to Die

The day I prayed to die,
I didn’t need any more why’s.
Wasn’t looking for reply’s,
there were no tears left to cry.

The day I prayed to die.

I wasn’t seeking heaven’s gate,
didn’t know if hell would be my fate.
Just knew I couldn’t longer wait,
to reach the end of livings state.

The day I prayed to die.

Question it a selfish prayer?
Of others, I was keenly aware.
But my pain just didn’t care,
it had become too much to bare.

The day I prayed to die.

No longer worth the constant strain,
exhaustion was my daily chain.
I knew I could no longer feign,
on others, I was now a drain.

The day I prayed to die.

Better just to cease to be,
everyone would then be free.
Grieve then moved away from me,
was my unstable inner plea.

The day I prayed to die.

I got no answer on that day.
Silent heaven wouldn’t life betray.
A barred path to its doorway.
Hell also couldn’t let me pay.

The day I prayed to die.

That day passed into the next,
continuation left me vexed.
I was blinded and perplexed.
“God, please, no more checks.”

Again, I prayed to die.

With no end and no relief,
exhaustion now pared with grief.
Greif was growing disbelief,
my prayer demanded a debrief.

Yes, I prayed to die.

Anger at the silent space,
God’s hand, I couldn’t trace.
Left me reeling, self disgrace,
numb to mercy’s embrace.

Still, I prayed to die.

Yet, God’s grace held true.
By degrees, it ever grew.
Working on my tainted view.
Willing to pull me through.

Even though I prayed to die.

See, my God will have his way.
His hand carry’s every day.
Promises will ever stay,
when his child walks astray,

or even prays to die.

Slowly life changing me,
life I wished I could flee.
Locked to earth by God’s decree.
Not my life, but his, you see.

He wouldn’t let me die.

Here I am, still in the mix.
God knows, I’m no easy fix.
Though I’m still one, he picks,
whatever life inflicts.

Steady prayers still fly,
though none ask to die.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Six Word Stories (10)

I remember going for walks on the beach. In the sun. In the spray. It was on a beach in the Netherlands where he asked. I said yes.

It was February. His lips were blue. The sand stuck to his bluejeans as proof he had kneeled when he asked.

The wind was blowing, and his nose was dripping from the cold. He was beautiful, just like the beach at six AM.

Sometimes love hurts. If you’re separated, it hurts. If you’re isolated together, the constant rub of a partner’s shoulder can hurt. Transforming for the sake of love hurts. But for us, it’s been worth it.

We all go through the slow transformation of life. I choose to go through it for, and with you.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photo’s sources from unsplash and pixabay.

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