hanne lydia


The Storm


It was building up; it could be sensed as a different light. There was pressure, a heaviness in the air. Early in the morning, warm, not yet hot. The sun was concealed behind the approaching wall of weather. The sea lay calm and crystal clear. As if it was waiting, subservient to what was approaching. They sat on a little stone jetty. He had just taken a dip in the still water. She sat with her legs tucked under her body with a hammer in her hand. They were on a headland, a majestic protrusion in the seascape. The path departed from the main road and wound its way down to the sea. The house stood at the bottom, behind large gates.


She had been inside the big house and picked up the hammer. It must have been easily accessible. She was thinly dressed, the short skirt made it harder to conceal her legs, made it more difficult to draw her legs up while covering her pants. It was painful sitting on the stones. She felt that now, now that her head had cleared.


She had been to bars, dancing. Had hung out with two English girls. They were younger than her, in their mid-thirties. She thinks she got too drunk, since they left. Her head was hot and her face flushed; everything was blurry. She had sat in the bar by herself; she only just got served. She was wearing a miniskirt and a sleeveless top.


Suddenly she was on the street. It must have been daylight, a grey light. She sat on the pavement. A white van had stopped and she got in automatically. The van started driving. Past her hotel. It drove through long bends, the road rose up out of the landscape. She threw her sandals out the door as the car sped along; now she was barefoot. The car suddenly left the road and descended along a gravel path to the house, behind the tall gates.


It was hard to make out the contours of him. It was as if he was faceless. The alcohol lay like a thin veil over the pulse, throbbing in her stomach. She had her mobile phone, tried to reach her sister at the hotel. It was a foreign country and the dialling code was not recognised. She started shivering and dropped her phone among the stones.


He began touching her. It was then she got the hammer and sat with it in her hand – “If you come near me, I’ll kill you!” She tried to conduct a conversation. He did not speak English, only a little German. She knew a few words. He told her where he was from. She hated that country. It was then he took off his clothes and dived in. He came up, milky white. He sat in front of her naked. She waited for him to get bored, to take her back. She talked about her family. Her family back at the hotel.


The air was still. The storm was on its way, steel grey. It was indescribably beautiful, a bitter contrast. They got in the car; it had been hours. Nothing had happened. She lay down the hammer; she did not need it anymore. The car climbed up the gravel path. It took a sharp turn and stopped abruptly in front of a small cabin.


It happened so quickly, she was taken by surprise. He dragged her out of the car and into the cabin. A small room with a bed and a tiny bathroom. A frosted glass pane in the door. He locked it and flung her onto the bed. He threw himself on top of her, forced her down. She cried for help, he hit her in the face. She thought the more she fought, the harder he would become. He went down on her, lay his body the other way. His organ was by her face; he was limp. She cried, was passive. He forced himself inside her. A shadow loomed through the glass pane. Someone shouted. He dressed and went outside.


She was alone, ran down the road. Her clothes still on, he had not bothered to remove them. It was sunny. On a little veranda sat an elderly couple. She cried; was asked to sit down. They covered her naked arms with a towel. They said he had done it before. They made a phone call.


A car arrived. A policeman in plain clothes. He was like all men from this country. He drove her to the hotel, waited outside. Her son was still sleeping. Her sister was pale. Her parents came to see to the boy; she barely dared to look at them. She and her sister sat on the backseat on the way to the island’s capital.


They waited in a sparse corridor for ages. Men went in and out of offices. They typed with one finger. They talked, smoked. They said they had to find someone who could speak English. She gave evidence over the telephone. Gave details. The sister waited outside in the corridor. Many hours passed. The window of the office was open. The voices from the street were audible. She thought now everyone can hear. It was completely black outside. Thunder and lightning. A downpour. The storm had arrived.


They wanted her to go to the hospital. The thought of being examined by a man was unimaginable. They wanted her to press charges. That meant returning from her homeland to witness. She declined.


The police fetched her one more time before they left her alone. She stayed in the hotel room all day; her parents came to take her son out to swim. A tour guide arrived. He said this happened more frequently on the other islands. A doctor came. She gave her some pills for the swelling on her face. Gave her some tranquilisers; she did not touch them. The doctor told her to go home. She decided to stay. There were eleven days left.


They hired a car. For several days they drove around the island, like the other tourists. They left the incident behind, as if it had never happened. They lay in the sun. In the evenings and at night they sat on the terrace. She and her sister. The child was asleep. They felt like someone was watching them from the darkness. They saw movements in the bushes, heard knocking on the walls. They bought a torch and shone it into the night.


One morning, as they were leaving the hotel room, the maid came in. The woman examined her face - “did he hit you?” she said. It was then she realised that the whole island knew.


The return journey began at the crack of dawn. Everyone from the same hotel stood by the main road with their luggage. They were waiting for the bus to the airport. She saw him. He cycled past.


She only told one friend when she returned, was talked into going to a refuge. They were discreet. Followed her up with tests and examinations. She said it had not been consummated. She said she had decided not to tell. They respected her decision. Her husband never knew. She thought of his reaction, she believed she could not have defended herself. They carried on as usual. For him it was a continuation. For her it was afterwards.



HLOK 2011











last century
the Other
I am a block
The Storm
Pizza and Death
Being mistaken
true story
northward, by the sea
panties and threats
drawings on the right
drawings that grip you
private violence
marked for life
the scarlets
various text