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Broken Glass

Coming Storms

By Matthew FrommPublished 21 days ago 5 min read
Top Story - March 2024
33

Each morning, Otto swept the bricks on the little corner outside his little flat in his little town. He loved his idyllic town, one that would have fit tidily in one of the Brothers Grimm tales.

But today, as the bells of his parish rang, Otto stepped outside and had to clutch his hat against the gathering storm. Still, it was not yet so bad, and he went about his routine, sweeping the dust and dirt from the cobblestones.

Amongst the church bells came another jingle.

“Evening, Saul,” Otto said.

His neighbor bowed his head, beard blowing in the wind, “I respect your toil.”

Otto smiled and went back to his sweeping. “I do what I can to keep this place clean, little as it is.”

Another harsh gust of wind blew through their humble street, and Otto hid behind the fringe of his jacket. To his surprise, Saul stood firm against it, intently surveying the darkening horizon. His attention on the horizon, Otto stumbled on the curb, but a strong, friendly hand caught him before he could fall into the road. With a small, kind smile, Saul helped Otto to his feet.

“You should get inside, Saul. That storm looks to be a bad one,“ Otto said, returning to his sweeping.

“Ah, my friend, I’ve weathered more storms than you know. This is but the latest.”

Otto gave no reply. Satisfied, he set his broom down and went inside. After all, what could he do to keep such a storm from their little, idyllic town?

It arrived in the dark of night, ravaging their idyllic streets. Otto tried in vain to block out the sounds, but his feather pillow could only do so much. He was no fool, though, and he agreed with Saul. These storms came and went, and very soon, things would return to normal in his little, idyllic town.

Otto rubbed the sleep from his eyes as he picked up his broom. The street beyond his little door was devastated, and the storm clouds still hung menacingly above. Still shocked at the sight beyond his door, Otto began sweeping the bits of broken glass from between the cobblestones. Saul stood outside, staring back at his shop window. The wind whistled through the empty, broken panes that fronted his shop. As Otto swept, Saul reached in and pulled out a palm-sized rock, turning it silently in his hands. Otto paused his sweeping, searching in vain for words of comfort. Before he could say anything, Saul shook his head silently and disappeared up into his flat.

The next storm came throughout the following day in all of its self-righteous fury. Otto hid in his small cooking nook, doing his best to ignore the bangs and shouts from outside. He had lived in his little, idyllic town his whole life; what was there to fear from this storm? It would come to pass as all things did.

Emerging from his little flat, Otto found more glass covering the cobblestones, and now the smell of smoke clung heavy in the air. He watched as a group of his neighbors stood in front of what remained of the deli a little further up the little street. Scorch marks reached all the way to the top of the triangular timber skeleton. Saul was nowhere to be found, yet even more glass lay on the cobbles in front of his storefront. Otto began to sweep.

Bang!

Otto jumped as a gust of wind slammed Saul’s door against its frame, the handle broken and unable to latch securely.

“Hello?” he said sheepishly into the storefront. No response came. Against his better judgment but now overcome by curiosity, Otto’s feet carried him up into the flat. The only features that distinguished Saul’s flat from Otto’s own were the haphazardly discarded belongings the storm had littered across the floor. Trunks lay overturned, and feathers from a torn mattress swirled. Otto took another step, and a brass candle holder skidded across the floor. Leaning close, Otto recognized it as one of the nine matching holders on the Menorah Saul always had above the hearth. Sighing, Otto began to sweep.

For days, above and around them constantly, the storm persisted. It had become tolerated and even accepted as a part of Otto’s little, idyllic town in the same way the burned timbers and cracked windows were.

Otto stepped outside as he did every day, broom in hand.

He paused.

A faded yellow notice was hammered into his door. Over and over again, he read its words, first not comprehending them, then not believing them. It stated plainly and bureaucratically that he would have to report for questioning about his involvement in subversive activities.

Otto sighed and swept as he watched the storm he now realized had not come from the horizon but from these very same cobblestone streets. The storm clouds coalesced on the corners in their black and brown uniforms, and Otto knew the faces of these boys, for they had all grown up in the winding streets of this little, idyllic village. Up and down his once quiet street now hung a score of menacing red and black banners. Upon the doors that had not so openly allied themselves with the storm hung matching faded yellow notices.

A boy approached as Otto swept his once little, idyllic street outside his little corner flat. Laughing at him, hunched and elderly as he was, the boy pushed Otto to the ground before he could raise his voice in defense. Without a word, without a smile, he smashed Otto’s broom on the bricks of his flat. The boy walked away as uncaring as he had arrived, and no friendly hands helped Otto to his feet.

The next day, more bits of broken glass littered the cobblestones, yet no one came to sweep them.

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A/N:

If you've enjoyed this, please leave a like and an insight below. If you really enjoyed this, tips to fuel my coffee addiction are always appreciated. All formatting is designed for desktops. All my works can be found below:

PsychologicalShort StoryHistoricalFable
33

About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to make it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wished to be found.

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Comments (19)

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  • Abdul Qayyum16 days ago

    https://vocal.media/fiction/time-time-time-251y08cb

  • Thavien Yliaster17 days ago

    "The next storm came throughout the following day in all of its self-righteous fury." - This line here really anthropomizes the storm as to what it really is along with its true intentions. A more aware reader would catch it the 1st time sweeping through, it wasn't until I had read past it that it clicked for me when Otto entered Saul's shop. "Otto hid in his small cooking nook, doing his best to ignore the bangs and shouts from outside. He had lived in his little, idyllic town his whole life; what was there to fear from this storm?" - This line made me think about why he was hiding in a kitchen nook when I first read it. I first asked why didn't Otto hide in his basement from such a terribly ugly storm. Were these winds about to whip up into shape a tornado? Then, later on, it all made sense to me. I would saybthat the style that You wrote this is isn't like a curtain slowly pulled away from one's eyes, but it's as if we're in a room or watching a stage, and the lights are slowly turning on to reveal the cast of the play and the plays very true nature. Dispelling the play itself, revealing the puppetry mastery that's needed to fool an audience into believing such a work of fiction is actually real. "Scorch marks reached all the way to the top of the triangular timber skeleton." - The mention of fairy tales in the beginning had me believe that this was partially in a fantasy fiction world. As if the storm was caused by some ghostly dragon that whipped wings as smoke, it's wings buffeting windows till they shattered and targeting people left and right. Fiction monster wise, and non-fiction monster, it makes sense why the deli was the first to go. Certain beings have certain tastes and to certain rituals they leave certain waste. Now that I typed dragon, I'm reminded of that little boy who hoped that the brave men from downstairs would remove that dragon that he heard of. "Otto took another step, and a brass candle holder skidded across the floor." - My mind already knew what it belonged to and pictured it before I even saw the other word. Excellent detailed description, and even more impressive about how immersive You made this, Matthew. That ending, harshly, cruelly, sad. I'm glad that You left it like that. I'm glad that You didn't do too much, and didn't shy away from more than enough. You were generous to it, even if Your heart wasn't in it. I know that feeling before, and I'm bound to feel it time-and-time again. I applaud You for doing what is right instead of what is easy. I could read Your heartache in those lines. "The storm clouds coalesced on the corners in their black and brown uniforms, and Otto knew the faces of these boys, for they had all grown up in the winding streets of this little, idyllic village." - Reminds me of how it kicked up over here in America too. In school my teacher told me that her grandfather stepped outside because a group of sheetheads were burning something on his lawn. He called them out each and everyone by name even though their faces were hidden cause he's seen them all at Church. He knew what their feet all looked like along with their shoes. Such a shame when those we grew up with, become sour grapes. It hurts pruning said vines, but sometimes it needs to be done. "It stated plainly and bureaucratically that he would have to report for questioning about his involvement in subversive activities." - And that's the plain and short of it when it comes to living. Nobody asked to be born, yet there'll always be somebody who hates us for existing. Such is the ways of oppression. The construction of such systems on order to prevent others from doing as well as one, let alone be capable of living at all regardless of one were to live in a lap of luxury or in a form of torturous poverty where the torture is rich and plentiful but their rights are not stripped of all dignity, meaning, and protection. Congratulations on being able to craft such a well toned story, Matthew. It's rich in curiosity and heartache. At the same time, it evokes compassion from Your audience. I believe that You dropped this 👑.

  • Anna 18 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Ameer Bibi18 days ago

    Congratulations for top story "Your humanity infuses your writing with authenticity, empathy, and depth. Embrace your unique voice, for it holds the power to connect, resonate, and inspire others in ways only you can. Keep penning your truth, and watch as your words illuminate the path for others to follow."

  • Rosie Clifford19 days ago

    I want to say a very big thanks to Dr Jumba for the wonderful work he did for me in helping me to save my marriage, my husband filed for divorce because of the little misunderstanding we had in the past few month, And i never wanted this because i love my husband so much and all our investment was a joint business and i don't want to be far away from my family and my two lovely kids. My friend told me about Dr Jumba and how he also helped her with her marital issues, so i had to contact him because i want to stop my husband from completing the divorce letter and i want to keep my family together and after contacting him, i was told what i needed to do and when i was going to start seeing the result, I did as Dr Jumba has instructed and after 3 days my Husband call me and start asking for my forgiveness and it was all like a dream to me and we are all living happily together again all thanks to Dr Jumba . wiccalovespelltools @ gmail. com

  • Alyssa Nicole19 days ago

    I love your use of allegory, painting the war as a devastating storm. This heartbreaking story is so beautifully written. Congrats on the Top Story!

  • ROCK 19 days ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Aminrhaz 20 days ago

    So sad

  • Lamar Wiggins20 days ago

    So sad that idyllic had to encounter barbaric ignorance. It changed the tone, indeed. I'm glad you told Otto's story. I wish I could donate a new broom. And congrats on your TS.

  • Margaret Brennan20 days ago

    OMG. first congratulations to you on TS, now, your story reminds me of the beginning of a war; the storm of an approaching battle for occupancy of a little town. So, sad with a ring of truth.

  • Damn I hate people. Beautifully told but heartbreaking nonetheless. 🤍

  • Shirley Belk20 days ago

    I both love and hated your story. Love because you did such an amazing job on setting and characters that I could feel the winds of change in Otto's world. Hate because of the harsh realities of human ugliness toward other human beings. No wonder you got a Top Story! Bravo

  • Cathy holmes20 days ago

    I just realized I didn't comment. This is wonderfully written, but such a tragic tale based in reality. Congrats on the well-deserved TS.

  • D. J. Reddall20 days ago

    This is simultaneously topical and timeless. You ought to be proud of its modest might.

  • Oh my...this was sorrowful. poor Otto and his shattered belief. Happily, subscribed. congrats!!

  • Hannah Moore21 days ago

    It just must have been so unfathomably devastating in its onslaught

  • Christy Munson21 days ago

    It hurts my heart that the broom gets broken in half, but the story demands what the story demands. I get it. Powerful stuff here. Excellent allegory. I thoroughly enjoy thoughtful pieces like this one. Well done!

  • L.C. Schäfer21 days ago

    Ouch, that end hits hard.

  • A disturbing allegory for so many things that are happening today, Excellent work

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