Stories from Burg Rappottenstein Part 1
Writing by Lea Gremm, Connie Phlipot, and Brigid Whoriskey
For the 2nd year running, Sunday Writers’ Club returned to Burg Rappotenstein in Lower Austria for our 2023 writers’ retreat. SWC members escaped to the imposing twelfth century fortress for four inspiring days of writing, sharing, and some exploration of the forest all around.
We’re excited to share here a small selection of members’ creative writing from the retreat, including-
We hope you enjoy reading these stories. And keep an eye out for Stories from Burg Rappotenstein Part 2 coming up next week and containing more fantastic creative writing from members at the retreat.
By Lea Gremm
and watch me make my whole life about this mixed drink in my hand
and hear me slur my words so much you could never understand
a single one –
still, I’d go on and on and on…
You should come here
and hear me shout
over the music, way too loud
in this apartment that is haunted by your ghost
‘cause I still love you the most.
Will you come here
and see me make a fool of myself,
take every book off its shelf
to make neat piles for yours and mine
and watch them grow and gather dust in time.
If you came here
you would see that I’m a mess,
still put on your favourite dress
for my birthday,
wondering why you couldn’t stay.
I still sleep on the right side of the bed,
I still buy your favourite toast and that awful chocolate spread,
I still watch the news at three and again at half past seven
‘cause you never liked the anchors that read them at eleven.
Every time I call your name
there is silence and sharp pain,
a reminder that you’re gone,
only absence lingers on.
Sunday Writers' Club member
I am a 29-year-old writer, freelance editor and part-time PR manager from Germany who moved to Vienna in 2022. My favourite pieces to write are poems and short stories. My favourite authors are Benedict Wells, Franz Kafka, André Aciman and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I get inspired to write by walking though Vienna, watching other people go about their day while listening to music. I love hiking, everything pastel-coloured and fresh flowers.
Last year, I launched my own editing company at www.zweitblick-lektorat.at – I offer editing and proof-reading services for German and English texts.“
Latisha is My Name
By Connie Phlipot
Latisha lived in this village hidden in the folds of the Dolomites all her life, except for her university and post-graduate years in the capital. It was during those years the discovery had been made. Her email inbox instantly filled with the news. “Latisha, you are famous!” her grade school friends wrote first. “To think we played elves and witches in the shadow of that stone, never guessing your name was written there!” If her name had been one common to the region, Maria or Elisabet for example, this revelation would have been totally unremarkable and immediately forgotten. Or if it had been a Celtic or Roman name, logical conclusions could have been made. She knew no one else named Latisha except for an American pop or hiphop singer she’d read about in her teenaged years. That bit of information had helped her get over the childhood embarrassment of a strange name that provoked teasing from her classmates. Since then unusual names had come in vogue and she no longer gave her name any thought except to make sure it was spelled correctly.
Until the revelation. There had to be a strong connection the name of a young girl born in the latter part of the 20th century and the strange carving atop the highest stone outcropping near her village. The first theory was banal — a friend, relative or admirer had carved it after her birth. Scientific methods disproved that one, showing that the etching pre-dated the Romans. Maybe the coincidence ran in the opposite direction. A parent or grandparent had found the writing, and gave his offspring that name. After publication of the finding, journalists interviewed villagers and researched town archives. No evidence that anyone before the intrepid Swiss climber knew about the encryption.
Officially, Latisha was not her name, of course. She was Maria Klara on her baptismal certificate. Anything outside of the constellation of female saints would have been unacceptable on state documents. But Latisha was the only name she had ever been called. She had not questioned this before. Like the line in Catch —22 “what kind of name is that? It’s my name, Sir, was how she regarded her moniker. Her parents had told her her great-grandmother wanted to call her that. Why? We never asked, they answered. She left it at that.
Not having ever aspired to be a rock climber, and being slightly afraid of heights, Latisha wasn’t motivated to see the description herself. The internet photos of it were clear and convincing. Deep fakes had yet to be invented. This was the real thing.
When her parents died with a few months of each other and her last remaining aunt the following years, Latish felt a cold emptiness flow in her body, as if she was losing connection with her origins. When she walked to the grocery store or the post office, fewer and fewer faces were familiar. Her parent’s generation was gone. She was suspended in history, a hang glider above the valley. Before the glider crashed into the mountainside, she had to return to the mystery of the who and why of Latisha.
Perched on the stone, she continued to feel the etching. Clearly and deeply carved, the letters were unmistakably spelling Latisha. She fingered the cool stone, she scratched the inside of the A with her index fingernail. Again and again, she traced the letters, so as to always remember hwo her name felt. To make it an integral part of her corpus.
LA-TI-SHA. The birds were twittering her name? Or a spirit hidden in the rock, enticing her to hurl herself to her death? The sweat of her fingers made tiny puddles of mud inside her name. Her foot slipped on the rock, then caught itself against another stone. There was no spirit calling her. The leaves rustled and she allowed herself to look off to the side. Clouds were lumpish and grey, like yesterday’s oatmeal. She edged her way down the cliff. At the bottomf she breathed deeply, realizing she had been holding her breath for the whole descent.
She leaned against a tree, resting and listening to the birds. LA-TI-SHA she shouted to the wind.
Sunday Writers' Club Member
Connie draws upon her experiences as a former U.S. diplomat in her short stories, flash fiction and creative non-fiction. Her novel-in-progress is loosely based on her grandparents’ lives as Belarusan immigrants in the coal mining community of early 20th century America.
All Together Now
By Brigid Whoriskey
Focussed minds, coffee sips
Looks of concentration
Words like defenestration
Masterpieces in the making
Jasmine’s cookies baking
Wine and beer
Ghosts to fear
Late to bed
Workshops and tips
Books and scripts
Games and craic
Let’s all come back
And for this ditty
(Which is not very witty)
Accept my apology
It won’t make the anthology
Sunday Writers' Club Member
Brigid has always loved writing, but a career in financial services got in the way. She now has a portfolio career as a coach and non-exec director – and makes time for writing. She has almost finished a children’s book (full of elves and magical creatures) and is working on a young adult novel. She loves the weekly inspiration and challenge of Sunday Writers Club.