Berlin Pastoral

This is the story of Uschi, Susi and Tom who live peacefully on a balcony in Berlin. When a baby comes along, their idyllic relationship in a very small space is threatened but using cunning and creativity, they make do. First published by Fatboy Review now re-issued for this mobile format. I'm working on a German translation to be published here, too. This story will only be online for a while as a teaser for the publication of my collection of short stories by MadHat Press |


1. The Balcony


Susi, Uschi and Tom live on a balcony above busy Helmholtzplatz in Berlin. They’re not strictly speaking homeless: the balcony has got a roof. They live there throughout the year, in winter and in summer. You know people like this exist. You’ve probably waved at them from the street. It’s tight up there, but they never complain.

In order to be happy despite the very narrow space, they continually exchange small gifts of affection and time. They know that their puny pastoral cannot last forever.

The flat to which their balcony belongs is owned by the son of a rich Munich manufacturer. This landlord drives a BMW like every good Bavarian. Uschi, Susi and Tom have right of way through the premises, otherwise both parties stay out of each other’s way. An incorruptible caretaker named Herr Schmidt checks if everything is in order.

The Bavarian owner, the caretaker, and the three roommates on their balcony are bound to each other by a sense for the absurd, which is strong in this city.

Tom sits up and stretches himself: he’s going to bring the filled waste tank downstairs. Susi gives him a tired, grateful smile and waves. The summer is so beautiful this year. Lying on a bed of linden leaves, Uschi dreams of a flying island that’s kept afloat by love alone. 

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