The Cathedral

With breathtaking beauty the magnificent cathedral looks over the town from its center square, wowing passersby who would occasionally stop to marvel at the skilled craftsmanship that was evident from every inch of the structure.

As you stand at a slight distance and gaze across towards the cathedral, intricate architectural designs reveal themselves to your eyes in dazzling detail and precision. The saintly figures on the elongated stained glass windows stare at you from their position high above, reflecting off the sun’s rays as if radiating towards you love and warmth. The carefully crafted pillars, sky bound, culminate in majestic statues of mythical beasts. Fierce but simultaneously kind they stand there as if ready to protect the town’s people from whatever threat may be coming towards them.

Tradition has it that there is far more to the cathedral than what meets the eye. Apparently if you approach it and inspect it from close up a whole new dimension is revealed and it is not a pretty one. The people therefore avoid coming too close and instead choose to appreciate the structure from afar. The only ones who go up close are the team of architects constantly inspecting the finer details of the design and from the looks on their faces one can tell that they are not happy.

It is not very clear what they are doing there, as they have long been dismissed by the project manager, deeming their work complete. There have been numerous attempts to talk the architects out of their redundant labour, but communication with them has proven extremely difficult. It is no wonder that they all seem sad, as they are continually exposed to the ugly closeup dimension of the cathedral and never get to appreciate their wonderful creation.

It has not always been like this. The elderly amongst the town’s people still recall how not so long ago in place of the beautiful masterpiece stood the old cathedral, shabby and neglected. Its structure was so weak that people would be afraid to pass by it lest if collapses on them unexpectedly. At last the architects came and after decades of labour they transformed it into its irrecognizable new self that we see now.

Unfortunately, the building was so ragged that a complete repair at the very fine levels was impossible and under closeup inspection the remnants of imperfection could be seen. That in itself would not have been a problem, since as long as one does not come too close none of this can be seen. However, for the architects who have through their construction work become accustomed to looking at the building from really short distances, this has become a source of obsessive anguish. And it is not as if anything can be done about this either, as it is well known that beauty cannot be found under the magnifying glass.

And as I pass by the cathedral every morning and take a minute to appreciate its beauty, I see the architects touching its walls, deep frustration on their faces and I think to myself, if only they would back off a little and appreciate their own work the way that I do!

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The Victim

It was a near miss. The flying knife was narrowly dodged and now the thrower was hurrying to get hold of it before his prey could. It was a strategic error. When you are dealing with an intelligent target you do not throw lethal objects in its direction lest it misses them and they use it to get back at you.

Fortunately enough the other man was too disorientated and confused and by the time he realised what was happening, the knife was safely in the thrower’s hands ready for the next aim.

The poor guy was evidently not very bright, as as soon as he got back the knife he made the same mistake again and launched it towards his prey. This time it was even more risky, as the man was expecting it and indeed, as the knife missed him again, he ran towards it ready to grab it.

‘You cannot trust people these days,’ I thought to myself, my heart filling with compassion for the naive guy. There was something really noble about his innocence, but innocence will get you nowhere and the man clearly needed help.

I knew that I was not very good at killing. I had never done it before. But this was not the time for these considerations; someone is in dire need and I was in a position to help him. The man’s eyes were swelled up with tears as I approached him. He was obviously in distress. That was not surprising given how hard he had been working for the kill, to no avail.

‘How selfish people are!’ I thought to myself, glancing at the man with the knife in his hand ready to fend off his attacker. I looked deep into his eyes and I could find there no compassion. The man was deeply self absorbed and nothing else seemed to matter to him, not even the plight of his pursuer. I could not understand how someone can be so heartless. ‘Does he not see how important his death is for the killer? Is he not aware of the pain he is putting him through?’

Filled with empathy I joined the pursuer and in no time the prey was overcome. And as the bloody corpse lay dead in front of our eyes, the knife plunged into its heart, a wide smile formed on the man’s face and that is when I knew that today I did a good thing.

The Flirt

Joseph needs bread and milk. In fact he has been in need of them for a long time, but he has not found the courage to try and get some. He did also not have a good enough excuse and in his imagination everyone who saw him at the grocery would know exactly what he is there for.

Deep inside he knew that it was perfectly normal to want some bread and milk and it is even more normal to go to the grocer’s. Nobody really has to know why he is there. And yet the thought of actually going out to get what he needs was frightening. He was definitely aware of what he is after and he was even slightly ashamed of himself.

But today he could not wait anymore. He took out his sportswear, hid some banknotes in his socks and jogged down the road to the grocer’s. The shop was full of people jogging around the aisles, most of them trying to avoid looking directly at the products, although some could be seen giving a stolen glance here and there when they thought that no one was looking.

He ran over to the fruit section and continued jogging around the aisles. Every now and then he moved slightly towards where he knew that the bread and milk were. He did it very gradually, so that nobody should suspect that he is actually here to shop. That would be so embarrassing!

By midday he managed to reach in his jogging path to within a couple of feet from the bread. ‘I’m getting somewhere,’ he thought to himself. That was when he bumped into Norman, an old friend of his. At first he pretended to not have noticed him, but then their eyes met and it was too late. “Hey mate!” he shouted out with a nervous smile on his face. “Working out like myself?” Norman sped up his feet and shouted out, “Of course!” disappearing into another section of the grocery.

A couple of hours later Joseph was casually walking around with bread and milk in his hands occasionally passing by the girl at the counter. Ordinarily it would be difficult to tell that she was a cashier, especially given that she was positioned in such a way that she could have easily have been a jogger during a short break, but Joseph had once been told that these girls were really there for sales. Apparently that is what they are actually waiting for. It was hard for him to actually visualize it, but logically it kind of made sense to him.

The girl’s name was Katherine – that is what was written on her store badge – and nervously Joseph approached her.

“Hi, my name is Joseph,” he started, avoiding eye contact. “I found these around; would you by any chance know how much they are?” He anxiously coughed and added quickly, “Just for the sake of curiosity of course. Lol, I don’t actually need to know,” he finished off with a wink and fake smile.

“Lol indeed,” the girl replied. “How would I know. It’s not as if I work here or anything.”

“Obvs,” Joseph replied, hoping that his disappointment does not come through. Katherine was standing opposite him with a careless expression on her face and Joseph wondered what was going through her head.

“Oh, actually,“ the girl suddenly started saying, “my friend used to work here and I think that she once told me the price. It’s £2.50 for the bread and a pound for the milk. Lol, so funny that I remember that.”

“Funny indeed,” Joseph replied dryly, his inside turning over with happiness. ‘She’s interested!’

He was standing there and calculating his next move when suddenly he hears Katherine’s voice:

“Would you like to buy them?” she lent over and whispered in his ear.

“What?!” ‘She wants to sell me the products!’ ‘Say yes, Joseph! Don’t be stupid,’ his rational voice told him. But he had never done it before. That was much too straightforward.

“No!”, he quickly shouted out, “Why would you even think that?” He dropped the products and said, “I need to return to my jog,” and ran off towards the door narrowly avoiding bashing into an exhausted jogger.

He arrived home empty-handed and knew that he missed yet another opportunity. ‘I’ll try again tomorrow,’ he promised himself, ‘next time I will not be ashamed to say how I feel.’

Tomorrow never came, as Katherine had already sold the products. When a while later he spotted Norman with the bread and milk he knew that he had only himself to blame.