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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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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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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When Creativity is Stuck

Do you ever just stare at the blank page in front of you, seeing spots? Maybe you’re holding a pen or paintbrush. Or maybe your ‘blank page’ is a metaphor for something else. A block of wood uncarved? A spool of untouched wool?

Human creativity comes in an endless array, and everyone’s blank page looks different. But no matter what form it takes, that ‘blank page’ can be torture.

What do you do when creativity grinds to a halt? If I am being honest, my first reaction is usually to pout. But that doesn’t help. So next I ask, why am I stuck?

Often it’s because I’m tired. But sometimes it’s something deeper. When a word surfaces that reminds me of hurt, or other emotions and memories that are uncomfortable, my knee jerk response is to push it away. When I deny the words a place, it stifles my creativity.

Have you ever told the uncomfortable no? That never goes well for me. It becomes a splinter in my foot that throbs and turns red.

I can exhaust myself with emotions that come with writing a difficult piece, though. It’s never a good idea to push too far too soon. Give yourself time when you are dealing with subjects that dredge up a lot of pain.

But the blank page doesn’t always mean I’m denying myself. Have you ever sat there staring in to space? That can be significantly worse than the splinter.

But what does it mean? Like I said, usually for me it’s because I’m tired. But the other times? I have noticed for me it means I haven’t learned the thing I need to fill those blank lines with yet. My brain can’t connect the dots I don’t yet understand.

What can you do if you haven’t learned what you need to create finish your project? An answer will be different for everyone. We should each seek it out.

Sometimes that knowledge isn’t something we find with research, though. It comes with life experience. Interacting with people, animals, nature, and the world. It will also depend on the manner your creativity manifests itself. How a writer finds knowledge looks different from how a sculptor does.

How to know you’re missing the knowledge and not just tired? You might not. When creativity becomes a battle, it’s time to move on. Set what you’re working on aside and do something else. Not forever, but for right now. This can help you determine why you’re stuck.

Go for a walk, chat with a friend, do the dishes, wash the car. Try changing your surroundings for a bit and see what happens. Still stuck? Then work on a different project, be it poem, painting, or anything else. It’s okay to lay it aside. It’s okay to give it a rest and flex some different muscles.

I often flip through my file of unfinished poems, read each one, and asking myself if I have found the word that fits. I pull out a few to focus on that day. But I don’t strain myself until frustration. It’s okay to put it aside until tomorrow.

What if you’re on a deadline? Well, putting it aside for something else doesn’t mean you don’t pick it up the next day. Be honest with yourself if it’s something you can finish alone.

Last bit of advice. Ask for help. My mild dyslexia has me constantly asking for help, be it from my grammar software, or friends and family. I ask the internet countless things a day. I ask surrounding people to tell me there stories and learn from them.

Sometimes the greatest tools in our creativity kit are other people. A friendly conversation can turn the blank page into a project brimming with life and potential.

Bubble Hunting

A sheet of ice that spans the street, black like darkest slate.
From underneath water seeps, through clogged and rusting grate.
Bubbles trapped under ice dance despite the cold,
as little boots sliding fast can find no proper hold.

Back and forth, ghost like in sheen, the bubbles bounce and bob.
Weight is shifted up above. Stomp! That did the job.
One bubble popped. White rings are left to mark the impact’s crack.
How many can be caught and taught with a well aimed mighty thwack?

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Six Word Stories (9)

Winter like I know it has still not really come to my new home. It has only teased us with a few day long romps through white, but that’s alright. It will be thoroughly enjoyed when it decides to make our new home, it’s home. If only for a short time.

I was not sorry to see 2020 leave. I was equally dissatisfied with 2019 and 2018 as well. I find my memories of the last 5 years fragmented and sharp.

But those shards hold truths I need to revisit. Sometimes puzzling through the mess is how we find out healing.

That is what life is, after all, an endless journey of learning. Each day holds possibilities for answers, healing, and growth. Painful or pleasant, learning is something we all do.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photos sources from unsplash.com.

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