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Strange to walk in the fog (short story)

Brigitte Neumann

Knut Feddersen lived alone. So he could lead a well-ordered life according to his own ideas. He used to get up early at half-past five and went to bed at half past ten in the evening. Between getting up and going to bed, almost nothing unplanned ever happened. This Thursday in November also went on as usual.

At half-past five in the late afternoon, as he walked through the reception hall to the exit, he friendly shouted to the doorman: “That’s right. Goodbye.”

The doorman looked perplexed. They looked at each other. The doorman laughed. Knut Feddersen trimmed.

“Yes, I do. On time as usual, Mr. Feddersen. Goodbye,” said the doorman. This short conversation took place every day. Usually, however, it was not he who approached the doorman, but the doorman.

It confused Knut. He replied nothing and went on. He left the building through the portal door.

“How embarrassing!” he muttered and shook his head. He shivered. The cold and wet fog had not dissipated since the morning. It hung as a white swath at dusk. Knut sped up his steps and hurried to the bus stop.

“Three minutes!” Every evening he waited three minutes until the 60s bus left. Some passengers were already there. Two women were talking about dieting, a man was reading a newspaper, and basses were booming from the speaker of a teenager’s mp3 player. The others just stood there looking in front of them or at the floor.

“Everything back to normal,” he thought and breathed. The bus arrived on time. He recognized Willy Otremba at the wheel from a distance. Before he became a bus driver, he worked for his boss as a courier. Knut Feddersen was the first one in.

“Foggy evening tonight,” he said.

“Should even rain” Otremba returned.

“We’ve had a lot of rain,” he replied.

“You’re right.”

Friendly nodding, Knut Feddersen continued and sat down in his regular seat. He talked to the bus driver about the weather every night. “As always,” came to his mind. He’d pull the paper out of his pocket. Today he left it in his pocket and looked out the window. Darkness and fog blocked his view. Instead, his face was reflected, distorted in the glass. Next week he would celebrate his 40th birthday. Or would he remain true to his principles and alone again?

“Do I do everything as always?” This question made him uneasy. She sat down and did not let go when he got off at the usual stop. She accompanied him on the familiar path along Goethestraße, turned left into Nord-Allee and left again into Lindenstraße to house number 22, his home. She didn’t even leave him when he was alone in his apartment. He could not hang her with her coat on the hook, drown her in hot tea or rinse her down the drain with the dishwater. She latched onto every one of his usual movements. He didn’t even turn on the TV, but walked around the apartment, from the sofa to the window, from there into the narrow corridor, the small kitchen, the cool bedroom and then back to the living room window.

The fog had become even thicker. Matt and ghostly as in the distance, the light shimmered out the windows of the surrounding apartments. In some it was already dark.

Knut stopped for a long time and stared into the wall of fog. Later than usual he went to the bathroom, showered, brushed his teeth, put on his pyjamas and went to bed. He couldn’t sleep. Dull thoughts emerged like ghosts from the fog outside. His birthday came back to him. He fell asleep and woke up like every morning, three minutes before the alarm clock rang.

It was still dark outside when he left the house at the same time as on all days. The fog had lifted. It was raining. The city seemed dull to him. The people he met were not as inaccessible as yesterday.

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