The Families

Auckland, New Zealand. — The two Art Deco houses stood in a valley on Tuarangi Road next to one another, in view of the highway leading downtown. Strangely enough, one could not hear the cars near the houses. Two families of artists lived in these buildings, which were too small for their perennially expanding minds, but were loved for their almost human daintiness. Their backyards were swampy despite the occupants’ earnest attempts at draining the land. The artists’ sculptures rested on the wet grass. Whenever a new sculpture appeared like a big friendly giant, the children were the first to claim it by climbing all over it, unsupervised except by the huge eucalyptus trees by the side of the road, which curiously peeked over the fence.

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Die Familien

Auckland, Neuseeland. — Die beiden Art Deco Häuser standen in einem Tal in Tuarangi Road nebeneinander, sichtbar von der Autobahn, die in die Stadt führte. Merkwürdigerweise konnte niemand in der Nähe der Häuser die Autos hören. Zwei Künstlerfamilien lebten in diesen Gebäuden, die für ihren endlos sich erweiternden Verstand zu klein schienen, die aber von ihnen für eine beinahe menschlich zu nennende Anmut geliebt wurden. Die Gärten hinter den Häusern blieben trotz der ernsten Anstrengungen der Bewohner, das Land trockenzulegen, Sumpfwiesen. Die Bildhauerarbeiten der Künstler standen im nassen Gras. Wenn eine neue Skulptur dort erschien wie ein großer, freundlicher Riese, nahmen die Kinder sie als erste in Beschlag, indem sie darauf herumkletterten, unüberwacht außer durch die hünenhaften Eukalyptus-Bäume am Straßenrand, die neugierig über den Zaun spähten.

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“The Families” was first published in Blue Print Review issue 24 “micro cosmos”; published also as part of a flash fiction cycle in the Metazen Christmas Ebook 2010.

Author’s note: “The situation described is based on our actual situation when we lived in New Zealand in 2002, next door to a couple who were friends and had a daughter same age as ours. The wife was of Maori descent. There was constant crossing: between their culture and ours; across the fence; between our kids; between our art and theirs. The magical trees were the smallest surprise. We felt very welcome and loved down there in the valley in Grey Lynn, and we broke hearts, ours too, when we returned to Europe.”

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Marcus Speh is a German writer who lived and taught in New Zealand in 2002. He made friends for life and wrote his first novel there. His short fiction has been published in elimae, Mad Hatter’s Review, kill author, PANK and elsewhere. First published in 2009 at Metazen, he’s been nominated for a Micro Award, two Pushcart Prizes, two Best of the Net awards and two Million Writers Awards, and was longlisted for the Paris Literary Prize. Marcus now lives in Berlin with his family, many wonderful New Zealand memories, and writes sitting at a Kauri desk. He blogs at marcusspeh.com and posts German translation of his prose at krautflash.tumblr.com.