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Ytte Skovlund's picture
Submission type:



Ytte stumbled through to Hyle’s kitchen. There was a note propped up against the kettle. The note was concise.



‘Ytte. Sorry we are not there. Needed at the hostel. Help yourself to breakfast, Coffee in the thermos. Hyle xx’


Ytte poured coffee and took a seat. She felt rough, everywhere. Her head throbbed, there was a whistling in her ears. She felt queasy, every muscle in her body ached. The exciting hairstyle Hyle had made the night before now felt like a Stork nest resting on her head. In short, the worst hangover she had ever experienced.


Nevertheless, Ytte realised she was smiling. The party had been wonderful. She had enjoyed dancing, the music was new to her and so exciting. Hyle and her friends had made her feel so welcome.

Ytte sipped her coffee and giggled as the memory of singing some song in German came back to her. Why someone had made a song about wandering round a distinctly grubby part of Hamburg at half-past- twelve in the morning was quite beyond her. But everyone at the party had been singing it raucously, so she joined, copying the silly dance that accompanied it. It was such fun, apparently it was the traditional last song of the evening.


Reavy had turned up around the time of that last song looking a little out of place in armours, compared to the general lack of clothing among some of the party-goers. Ytte remembered the Native-American girl, Nerlani. She had been the first to remove her shirt, much to Ytte’s surprise but by this time Ytte had become somewhat more relaxed in the general atmosphere of the party.


Hyle had gone to Reavy and they had embraced. Ytte noted how Reavy’s black armour had contrasted with Hyle’s tiny lilac satin outfit. Ytte found herself smiling at the couple, the deep mutual affection was clear, even heart-warming. Later, when enthusiastic sounds of passion were faintly drifting downstairs into Tukiko’s room, Ytte found herself smiling again. Did Tukiko hear this noise also?


Ytte finished eating and cleared away the dishes. She decided to take a shower, then she should go and see how Siegfried was doing. The shower, coffee and pain-kilers had worked, combined with a brisk walk to the stables had Ytte feeling so much better by the time she arrived. Siegfried was no longer lame.


An hour or so later, Siegfried was groomed, saddled up, packed and ready. It was time to move on, But first, Ytte decided to find Hyle and thank her for letting her stay with her and also for the party.


At the hostel, Ytte had had to ask around to find where Hyle was, she was directed to the women’s hostel, upstairs in the bunk room. Ytte climbed the stairs, but something made her slow her progress. The sound of a murmured voice. Hyle’s voice. Ytte leaned around the side of one of the bunks slowly.


Hyle was sitting on a small stool beside the bed of the ‘shell-shocked’ looking girl she had seen on her first visit. Hyle was holding her hand in both of hers, talking softly to her even though the girls‘ eyes still stared darkly upwards. Ytte watched for some time, Hyle kept talking softly holding the hand, from time to time the girl nodded almost imperceptibly. Ytte was transfixed.


The spell was broken as Hyle glanced over toward Ytte. Only her head turned slightly but her eyes caught Ytte off guard. Ytte could only wave her fingers in farewell to Hyle, Hyle nodded in return, that thin smile flickered across her face, then she returned her attention back to the poor refugee girl in her care.


Siegfried clip-clopped at a walk, they ambled along the road toward New Flagstaff. Ytte’s mind filled with the events of the last few days.

Hyle Troy. The paradox. The hedonistic thrill seeker dancing shamelessly, drunk and half naked. The caring hand holding that of a distressed victim, supporting her with soft words only a few hours later. Small wonder Ytte had got her so wrong, and how Hyle and Tukiko, Maisie and Reavy had shattered the attitudes Ytte had arrived with.

The preconception of Hyle as a drunken trollop charlatan of a Mayor in a dusty outpost of depravity had been so wrong. Instead she found a town with lasting peace and a growing social care system where the people came first, ordinary people, not those who find that only a weapon can speak for them while they hide behind it.

So ‘She likes to party’ as Tukiko had said. And so she does, Ytte had witnessed and it was glorious!


But Ytte realised something else. Not only were her preconceptions about Hyle shattered. So too were her own. She had grown up in a military family in a militaristic society. She had wanted for nothing. Her attitudes formed around a society for the takers, armies to conquer and to hell with the cost to the ordinary people because fortunes were to be made on the backs of those less privileged.


Ytte sighed, it was all wrong. She gazed along the road. New Flagstaff grew out of the horizon in front like a row of broken gravestones. No matter how hard she looked, Ytte could see no road ahead there for herself any more.

Ytte took the photograph out of her bag. She looked at the young girl under the black shako with the totenkopf gleaming. The twin plaits each side of her head, the uniform, and the flames behind. Ytte could no longer recognise herself. The Prussian who had trampled refugees on the road to glory only to be torn apart by a Danish cannonball. Then to lie, lost in deep mud for centuries until resurrected by some obscure quirk of technological fate.



Slowly Ytte tore the photograph up into tiny squares and let the wind take them one by one. She pulled on Siegfried’s left rein, turning him back towards Hope Springs and maybe some kind of atonement.


ytte 1864ytte after Hope           







Tuki's picture

Yes! Yes I did!... Scared me for life... Picked up a few tips though ;)

Erm................ Oops?

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