Spargel MAG

March 26, 2009
By Julia_H SILVER, Merrimac, Massachusetts
Julia_H SILVER, Merrimac, Massachusetts
6 articles 0 photos 26 comments

There is only one word that I know how to say in German.

Mappenklemmplatte. Binder clip.

Why my father took this as a sign to pick up everything I knew – from my bed to my dog to my favorite pen to the “Our Happy Home” mat by the door – and move me to Germany with him is a mystery.

From my perspective, we were perfectly fine in our house by the highway, cars whizzing by, providing a gentle hum to fill in the noise of neither of us talking. He doesn’t like talking, my father, and I don’t like it much, either. He is fat, with a bushy, graying mustache, and he likes to cook. All he seemed to do after my mother died was cook, but I didn’t mind the silence much, because it meant I didn’t have a curfew and our dinners were always good, when we had dinner.

At night, the cars would send me to sleep, the yellowish-white of the headlights seeping through my thin curtains and running along the side of my walls, the buzzing providing a distant lullaby I’m sure my mother used to sing.

I liked it there.

And then we moved.

We didn’t move like other families do, with all the hubbub and special arrangements. I simply came home one day and found a suitcase on my bed. My father had scribbled a Post-it note: “Pack what you want. We’re leaving.”

Looking back, I guess it was inevitable. He couldn’t stay here. He had to run away. Run away from the memories, run away from the world, run away from the broken lights traversing his bedroom walls at night. Which is how I ended up here, watching his shining round face as he babbled in German and sold asparagus.

Or spargel, as I am continually corrected.

Bruiser rests his head in my lap. I scratch him behind the ears, sighing, looking up at the sky, straining for even the slightest sound of a passing car. When he had first said “Germany,” mumbling it over his shoulder at the airport, I was fine. I thought of the Autobahn. I thought of the sound of things going at top speed, of freedom, of moving on, of moving forward.

I hadn’t thought of this.

I hadn’t thought of sitting in a godforsaken spargel stand by a dirt road, smiling at ruddy-faced Germans as they scrutinized the spargel we were selling, comparing it to the spargel the other spargel vendors were selling, because not only was it spargel season, it was Spargelfest.

And I had to watch my father change here. Drinking beer until his face turned permanently red, the sweat rolling down the side of his face from the hot sun, and sometimes I would catch him crying, wiping the tears from his eyes and then pressing his fingers to his mouth, as if his tears may have turned to alcohol and he could just drink them away.

I kiss the top of Bruiser’s head, and he knocks his giant noggin into my face as if to acknowledge the gesture. I laugh, toppling out of the plastic chair to get on my hands and knees to play with him, the only companion who speaks my language anymore. My phone has no service here; our computer makes no connections. I am isolated from everyone who used to make me, me.

Except for Bruiser. He doesn’t know two words of German, either.

A blond boy approaches us. My father is busy laughing over something with another fat man, so I stand up, not even bothering to dust the dirt off my jeans. They are already discolored from infrequent washing, splotched with brown; I can’t bring myself to bother anymore.

The guy is cute. His hair is long and windswept forward, and he wears big John Lennon glasses that reflect the clouds. He looks like Josh, my boyfriend before we left. I never told him I was going, let alone where. I never told anyone. We just … left.

“Hi,” I say, hoping that it’s enough to convey that I don’t speak German. I point to the boxes of green vegetable in our cart. “Spargel,” I say. He nods, confirming that the vegetable is, indeed, spargel.

Bruiser, upset that I’ve abandoned him, bounds over. Before I can stop him, he’s kicking up dust in the middle of the road, jumping up, putting his paws up on the German version of Josh. I hoist myself over the stand, the bottoms of my Converse dangling out of the shoes, holding on by a thread. German-Josh is saying something in German, and if I understood it, I’m sure it would have been a long string of swears.

“Sorry!” I say, grabbing Bruiser’s shoulders and pulling him off. He’s a Great Dane and hard to handle. I had forgotten though. He never jumped on anyone back home. “I’m sorry. I really am. We should keep him on a leash ….”

He continues to issue words I can’t understand. I stand there, pulling Bruiser down. “Bad dog,” I hiss, “bad, get down, Bruiser, damn it ….”

“The kid says you need to get a leash,” my dad shouts. I glare at the German version of Josh.

“I know. The dog’s a bastard.”

Josh-the-German rips off his glasses and says something else. I look to my father, who looks slightly confused, then tunes in again. “And he says that dog is a bastard.”

I look pathetically at the boy, and point to our stand. “Spargel.”

***

I hate Germany.

I have to hate it. It is an obligation, not a choice. Like how you’re supposed to naturally hate a stepmother, or a bratty little sibling. Germany is my new evil stepmother. And I am Cinderella, crawling around on my hands and knees, trying to please it, trying to make things even remotely better for myself.

I’m not doing a very good job.

The day after the German-Josh incident, I snuck into the money my father had been saving and bought myself a German-English dictionary. I sit here now, reading it in the shade of our stand. My father sips a bottle of beer and bellows a crude song with two other vendors. I don’t even want to look up the words.

“Hallo,” says a voice I barely recognize. I look up, squinting against the sun, and see German-Josh. I turn around: Bruiser is breaking the neck of a sheep squeaky-toy I had brought with us, far in the distance. I turn back. My face and the words of the dictionary are reflected in his glasses. I wonder what color his eyes are.

He points to the stand. “Spargel?”

“Spargel,” I confirm, and I stand up, raising my chin, hoping I look like a salesperson. I point to the sign that lists our prices, acting as though I would know the difference. I still have no idea how the whole euro thing works yet.

He buys some. He turns to leave but stops, coming back. He points to his temple, then gives me something wrapped in brown paper that he had been carrying in the crook of his arm. I take it, and he waits. I unwrap it, glancing warily at him to make sure that it is, in fact, a gift for me.

I let the paper fall to the ground and lift the gift up, blocking the sun with it. It’s a leash.

I smile. “Thank you,” I say, hoping he understands.

Bitte schön,” he says.

***

He comes back for more spargel every day for the next three weeks. We never say anything, and I have no idea whether he’s paying me the right amount; in fact, he’s probably just using me to get cheap spargel for his spargel soup for Spargelfest for his spargel-happy family.

But I secretly hope not.

Today, I stop him from leaving. I hold out my hand, and he turns, looking at me, then warily at Bruiser, who’s at my feet, panting in the heat. He stares, waiting. I swallow, and close my eyes, trying to remember. I can do this, I tell myself. I can do this.

Danke für den Kaufen unseres Spargeles,” I say. Thank you for buying our spargel – at least, I think that’s what I said. I hope that’s what I said.

“Thank you for you to sell the spargel to me,” he says.

I smile. I smile, and I do not know what to say next.

So I say the only thing I can.

Mappenklemmplatte.”

Binder clip.



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JOIN THE DISCUSSION

This article has 146 comments.


on Jan. 5 2015 at 9:30 am
Ray--yo PLATINUM, Kathmandu, Other
43 articles 2 photos 581 comments

Favorite Quote:
God Makes No Mistakes. (Gaga?)
"I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right." -Liesel Meminger via Markus Zusac, "The Book Thief"

The ending made me laugh, amazing writing :D

on Dec. 9 2012 at 2:02 pm
TaylorWintry DIAMOND, Carrollton, Texas
72 articles 0 photos 860 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Never fear shadows. They simply mean there's a light shining somewhere nearby." - Unknown

tHIS is an amazing story. Very well-written. Fantastic job.

austenite GOLD said...
on Jul. 9 2012 at 7:38 pm
austenite GOLD, River Falls, Wisconsin
13 articles 0 photos 177 comments

Favorite Quote:
...one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love....I love...I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on. -Mr. Darcy

What a fun story! I'm a fan of Sarah Dessen, and the narration of this story reminded me of how her novels are written! I really enjoyed it - fantastic job!

Matt_Mc BRONZE said...
on Jul. 9 2012 at 2:22 pm
Matt_Mc BRONZE, Johnstown, Ohio
2 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The best way to not get your heart broken is to pretend you don't have one." -Charlie Sheen

Very cute, interesting and funny! The narraration is very good and the ideas are creative

on Apr. 12 2012 at 7:20 pm
billgamesh11 BRONZE, Grafton, Massachusetts
3 articles 0 photos 278 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It's always darkest before the dawn." ~Florence and the Machine

Whoa! This was just so amazing! I can't think of anything anyone should have a problem with. This story was perfect. Amazing Job and Keep Writing!!! :):):);)

Puyruf said...
on Mar. 10 2012 at 3:39 pm
Puyruf, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
0 articles 0 photos 7 comments
I love this. The narrator's voice is amazing, she's a little bit sarcastic and a little sad at the same time. Keep up the amazing work!

on Feb. 6 2012 at 11:29 am
Becca.14 BRONZE, Waukesha, Wisconsin
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
The story was very interesting and creative! it kept my attention the whole time!

on Feb. 6 2012 at 11:26 am
Alexxxxx BRONZE, Waukesha, Wisconsin
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
This is a great story! It's an unusual situation, but totally believeable. I like the German Josh! Very cute ending. :)

on Feb. 6 2012 at 10:43 am
missmeliss BRONZE, Waukesha, Wisconsin
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
This is a cute story. I like how the imagery is vivid and it has a natural flow. Nice job :)

on Dec. 24 2011 at 1:51 am
PenPaperAddiction, Las Vegas, Nevada
0 articles 0 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We're all a little weird and when you meet someone who's weirdness is compatible with yours, you fall into a mutually satisfying weirdness and call them your best friend." -boymeetsworld

Binder clip and asparagus... Who would of thought? Great writing and marvelous idea. Thank you for the enjoyable read :)

KendalJ BRONZE said...
on Dec. 2 2011 at 10:29 pm
KendalJ BRONZE, Ada, Oklahoma
3 articles 0 photos 7 comments
This was wonderful. I loved the personality, detail, and slight foreshadowing. Keep writing!

on Dec. 2 2011 at 7:59 pm
DreamyNightmare SILVER, Lincoln Park, Michigan
7 articles 14 photos 7 comments
This is a really amazing story. I love it. You are an amazing writer. (:

on Nov. 10 2011 at 6:23 pm
Writtenwithlove SILVER, Canton, Ohio
8 articles 20 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
\"We were given: Two hands to hold. Two legs to walk. Two eyes to see. Two ears to listen. But why only one heart? Because the other was given to someone else. For us to find.\"
-unknown

OH MY GOSH!! This is sooooo wonderful! Please write more! 

on Sep. 5 2011 at 6:28 pm
zadiekatie23 PLATINUM, Rio Rancho, New Mexico
39 articles 4 photos 69 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

I knew a puppy once named Bruiser. AND I LOVE JOHN LENNON! <3 I really liked your story; just reading a book set in Germany, I'm kind of getting the feel for the country, and your story intrigued me.

TheGoodTwin said...
on Sep. 5 2011 at 6:28 pm
TheGoodTwin, Fort Mill, South Carolina
0 articles 0 photos 70 comments

Favorite Quote:
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

--Shakespeare

hahahahaha. Spargel........who knew asparagus could be so powerful? Maybe next time my mom yells at me for not eating my "spargel" I'll listen....

on Sep. 5 2011 at 8:33 am
singinginthegardn GOLD, Cowell, Massachusetts
16 articles 2 photos 158 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." ~Anaïs Nin

This is great :) I love the girl's personality!! <33

on Aug. 14 2011 at 12:15 pm
MaggieElaine GOLD, Los Alamos, California
11 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
"As I hide behind these books I read, while scribbling my poetry,
like art could save a wretch like me, with some ideal ideology that no one can hope to achieve.
And I am never real; it is just a sketch of me.
And everything I made is trite and cheap and a waste of paint, of tape, of time." - Bright Eyes

Awwwh I love this. Please keep writing!! :)

on Aug. 14 2011 at 9:17 am
RhythmAndRhyme BRONZE, Rockford, Michigan
4 articles 0 photos 91 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There's no half-singing in the shower, you're either a rock star or an opera diva." ~~Josh Groban

That was wonderfully written! I don't usually enjoy reading realistic fiction at all, but this one caught my eye on the homepage with the interesting title and picture.

Thinking it would just be a cliche story, I figured I would navigate away to some other page after reading half of the first paragraph.

But I read the whole first paragraph, and then the next five, fifteen, twenty...and I kept on going.

And going, going, going.

I think it was the "we have to leave suddenly" element that hooked me in the beginning. I absolutely love that sort of thing....

Throughout the rest of the piece, I loved the feelings portrayed by the narrator, and the bond between her and Bruiser. The dialogue was realistic, too, and so was the narrator's attitude toward her new "home."

And the ending was the ("perfecto!") cherry on top. This was unexpectedly spectacular! Thanks for the great read!


on Jul. 24 2011 at 11:51 am
missAshybee BRONZE, Purcellville, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Gene Police: You!! Out Of The Pool!"-stupid scientist joke
XD oh man oh man.

That was really great! You wrote with a great purpose...very simplistic, yet engaging and a cute story through and through. I love how you told us just enough, but didn't go overboard with the details. It was one of the best executed short story pieces I've ever read. :)

630R63 BRONZE said...
on Jul. 23 2011 at 3:43 pm
630R63 BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
3 articles 0 photos 7 comments
actually read the whole thing, really good writing!


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