Selfie

Mila Mutzbach
 
Selfie
Remember the Thalers? The doctor? Almost everyone at Vigiljoch knows her. Because: As healthy as the air is up here, at some point you have to go down to the doctor. She has been living in Meran for quite a while now, since the thing with her husband. Nora, the daughter, is Goth. Always dressed in black, always with creepy bling-bling. They call them bone lollipops. But she is sweet. Despite the skull dangles.
The other day at the cable car I met Luca, the youngest from Ederhof. I asked him how Nora was doing in Meran. Luca says they all found her strange at the new school. But she was still invited to the party of the class priss. She wanted to cancel; she didn't feel up for it. But her mother said, “In the end it's often funniest where you don't want to go at the beginning.”
The party game was Spin the Bottle, with Truth or Dare. Nora was given this task:
At the forest cemetery, where the “Black Widow” always sits, she was supposed to suck on some bones during the full moon. With Selfie. If not – trouble.
Nora told the story to Luca and Luca told it to me and I wrote it down for you. Here you go:

The Bone Lollipop
On Monday after the party Nora cycled to school early in the morning. The meadows were dozing under the early morning fog; some ravens were picnicking in the fields. Nora took the path through the forest. She had a plan:
Explore the forest graveyard.
Take some test photos.
Ride on to school.
Come back by full moon for bone-sucking and take pictures.
On the bench in front of the cemetery sat an old woman dressed in black, feeding a raven.
“Want more?” she asked.
“More,” croaked the raven.
Nora got off her bike and crept into the cemetery. Rough stone crosses. Dark angel statues. Moss, fern, ivy. A tomb decorated with skulls. Would the cemetery gate be locked at night?
She left the cemetery in her mind when she heard the old woman giggling.
“They call me the Black Widow, but I'm not as black as you. Are you new here? Simone von Vogt is my name.”
“Nora,” Nora said.
“Visiting someone?” asked the old woman.
“No. Yes. Not exactly.”
Should she ask if the gate was left open? No. Too obvious.
“Don't you have school?” asked the old lady.
“Yes, I do.” Nora looked at her watch. “Oh, I gotta go. Bye.”
“Bye, dear.”
Second plan:
Wait until mother goes on the night shift in the evening.
Bicycle to the cemetery.
Check the gate.
When dusk pushed the daylight aside, Nora rode back to the cemetery. Arriving at the gate, she grabbed the pommel - when a gnarled hand laid itself on her shoulder.
The Black Widow.
“Come to the Night's Watch?”
“I... just wanted to know if the gate was locked.”
“It will be. Why?”
“I have to go into the cemetery. On a full moon. Test of courage.”
“Aren't you afraid?”
“Nope,” said Nora. “Hell is not the dead. Hell is the others.”
“Speaking of which,” said the old lady with a smile, “I have to go home. Otherwise they'll send the hearse after me. Are you coming along? I'll tell you about the cemetery.”
And she told. About the day when the white angel statue cried black tears. About the stone cross that grew a moss cushion, regardless to whatever you did against it. And about her husband, Hans von Vogt, who was buried in the crypt and on whose grave the full moon's rays illuminated the family crest.
“Cool,” said Nora.
The old woman shrugged her shoulders.
“I never saw Hans' grave.”
“What? You always sit outside the cemetery, but you've never been to his grave?”
“It's a long story. You know, I had two loves. A beloved man and a beloved woman. And I was lucky enough to have them both give me the freedom to love them both. My Ilse is also buried in the cemetery. Her gravestone is an angel. So they say.”
“You've never been there either?”
“No. When Hans died, I was in hospital. Cancer therapy. He was buried without me being with him. Ilse died shortly afterwards. All my life I could love them both at the same time, but,” standing still, she paused. “I can't say goodbye to them at the same time. If I visit my husband's grave first, I do Ilse wrong. If I go to Ilse's grave first, I will hurt Hans' memory. So I sit down in front of the cemetery to be close to them.”
She went on and giggled.
“I shrivel up on the graveyard bench as if on order and death has not come for me, while my two beloved ones remain young forever.”
They remained silent until they reached Ms von Vogt's house. When they parted, she whispered:
“I know the cemetery gardener. I'll get you the key. Then at least you can do your job.”
Nora thanked her and left.
She had a new plan:


Bake cookies in the shape of bones and put them on lollipop sticks.
Next full moon night, style creepy.
Pack your smartphone, camera, tripod and the battery LED spotlight.
Borrow your mother's smartphone.
Accompany Ms von Vogt to the cemetery.
Go to the crypt while Ms von Vogt is waiting on the bench.
Set up spotlight, tripod and camera in the crypt.
Unpack the lollipop and take pictures of bone lollipops.
Afterwards:
Place the LED spotlight in front of Ilse's grave.
Start a face-time video call from the mother's smartphone to her own mobile phone. Point the smartphone camera at the illuminated grave of Ilse and place the smartphone in a video-technically favourable position.
Take Ms von Vogt to the family crypt.
When entering the crypt, show the live connection to Ilse's grave on her own smartphone, so that Ms von Vogt can talk to Hans (in the crypt) and Ilse (via smartphone) at the same time.

The plan worked. At the stroke of midnight, Nora had taken her bone-sucker photo. A little later Ms von Vogt said her goodbyes: no, she celebrated reunions with her loved ones.
Then the Black Widow asked Nora to illuminate the tomb with the LED spotlight, sat down with her on Hans' grave plate and nibbled eerily at the bone-sucker cookie, while the camera's self-timer clicked diligently.
That was the moment when Nora decided not to show these photos to anyone.
“I'm not playing anyone else's game,” she said. “I passed the dare, but I'm going to make something of it. The hell are the others. But happiness is yourself.”
End
That was the way it was. Ms von Vogt, Nora and the ravens were still often seen in the cemetery. And at some point, after a funeral-rich winter, only Nora sat on the bench and fed the raven. Today she studies in Bozen. But always at the summer and winter solstice she comes back to the cemetery, says Luca. By the way: Do you know how Nora finances her studies? She has a gothic internet shop and sells bone lollipop cookies. Just ask at the reception, sometimes there are some. Moohlzeit!
Translation by Shan Wardell
 
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