Bernd Drawe 

This is where photography and creative writing have found a common platform. What began as an experimental platform of combining the photographs of Bernd Drawe and my fiction has evolved into a series of interwoven stories that were published online on photography platforms. The positive response to the series encouraged us to take it to another level and after several months, a book was born.

The complete set of INTERWOVEN is only found in the book!   

All of Bernd Drawe's photographs can be found on Lichtblau Fotografie 

The Wait

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As the taillights car faded into the foggy night, she remained transfixed at the barn window, uncertain at what to do next. The pain radiated through her entire body and she could barely feel her legs, her shoulders numb from carrying the heavy loads for long hours, and fingers screaming to be put to rest for the day. The physical exhaustion of working on the farm all day still took on a heavy toll on her slender frame. Her stomach growled in hunger but since she had already eaten her portion of bread for the day, there would be no dinner anymore. Earlier that day she had to tighten her belt another notch, fully aware of the rapid weight loss over the last six weeks. None of her formerly stylish clothes fit properly anymore, and simply hung from her body like discarded rags. This was certainly not the lifestyle she had imagined when she met the love of her life at the café that fateful afternoon a year ago.  

Her mother had raised her in the city, teaching her to be street smart, helpful, considerate of others, and caring. What mother dearest forgot to warn her about was the danger of falling in love with charming strangers with hypnotizing blue eyes that rendered her helpless and completely enchanted. 

It was love at first sight when they both reached the last remaining table at the corner café and grabbed the same chair, claiming all rights to the preferred seat by the window. She had been searching for the perfect little corner to sit and write, whereas he needed a place to plot his next business venture, neither one of them willing to surrender. 

One table. 

A single conversation. 

The stroll in the park. 

A passionate interlude. 

Words and emotions gushed forth as if there was no tomorrow. The chemistry was there from the moment they introduced themselves, and it was stronger than anything she had ever experienced before. The chance encounter blossomed into a fiery relationship that had her agreeing to just about anything he demanded the next few days, and It wasn’t long before she found herself agreeing to move in with him. 

Tilting her neck to the side in an effort to ease the pain, she tried to remember what her grandmother used to say: Romance and real life are the worst enemies. How many times had she scoffed at this expression without realizing the wisdom of those words? Why didn’t anyone warn her about the perversions of intimacy behind closed doors? Who could have possibly stopped her from falling into the trap of modern day slavery? 

Was there hope for escape? 


Wrinkles in Time

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The lights in the forlorn Fietzen bar seemed dimmer than usual with the cigar smoke filing the room and the stench of stale beer permeating the walls. It was sometime past 2:00 AM and most of the customers were staggering out the door, uncertain about which way they had to go. The bartender looked tired and bored, spending more time on his mobile phone than serving up the drinks, but like the rest of them, had to stick it out until the end of his shift.

The sultry music she was dancing to on stage helped drone out the lascivious looks and lurid remarks being launched at her by the remaining customers, a mixture of pot-bellied old men in a drunken stupor who had no families to go home to. A few of them were regulars whom she knew by name, their fat fingers and greasy hairdos making her cringe each time they reached for her sequined bikini to insert the bills. Her forced seductive smile and coquettish shrug of the shoulder was her only way of thanking them for the generous tips, since she was certainly in no position to be choosy. If it weren’t for her son’s tuition she needed to raise by next month, she would have happily kissed this Cabaret job good-bye years ago. The humiliation she experienced every night was something she would remember the rest of her life, knowing deep in her soul that the stench of this lifestyle would forever disgust her, and she would always blame the one and only woman she thought she could trust.

Mother dearest had always been superstitious and religious at the same time, a combination that brought the family more agony than blessings over the years, ultimately driving father to the bottle and into the arms of another. A strong and beautiful woman, mother had been a celebrated beauty queen in her youth, the toast of the county with a brilliant future laid at her feet. Somewhere along the way, mother lost her fighting spirit and gave up all dreams of leaving the small town her soul was imprisoned in. The dilapidated house the family was raised in reflected her crumbling and wrinkled existence, smoothness replaced by hollowness, and the only remaining luxury she retained was her old Mustang, which allowed her to break all barriers.

The notes of the saxophone brought her back to the stage and she gripped the pole for a final dance of the night. Fate had played a cruel game on the family one summer afternoon, changing their lives forever as their innocence and countryside inexperience were preyed upon. The girls had been lured out to the big city with promises endless wealth and golden opportunities by a man they knew only as The Gardener. He showed up at their doorstep one day, pretending to be a minister recruiting young virgins to do “God’s work”. The Flowers of Paradisehe had called them, and regaled them with hollow tales of other young girls who were now living la dolce vita. Mother willingly gave up her daughters to The Gardener, believing she was serving the church with the ultimate sacrifice and providing hope and future for the girls.

The girls were transferred from one foster home to another, never staying longer than a week. If anyone had tried to follow them, the trail would have gone cold by the third week. It wasn’t until the end of the first month that the true nature of the “journey” was revealed and the sisters were ripped apart from each other, sold individually at private auctions to the highest bidder. Ten years had passed since and she had lost track of all the men who had passed through her sheets, often time not even revealing their real names. Her body was theirs to enjoy and destroy as they pleased, but nobody could touch her soul.


Shadow Chasers

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Picking up the pace to push a jog into a run, his muscles groaned as the additional effort was exerted. He berated himself for having taken that day off from the exercise routine, but jet lag was something he could never overcome. The flight to Lisbon had been uneventful and it felt good to be back on European soil after being assigned to the Middle East. There were days when he seriously regretted his career choice, and today was one of them as he lamented the lack of sleep and blandness of European food as compared to the fiery Afghani cuisine. His years of covert operations in Kabul with the Special Forces had come to an abrupt end when the UN Peace Keeping Forces took over. Those had been glorious high-adrenalin action days, but was glad to be out of now that only a handful of his teammates were still alive. The money had been great, with obscure bank accounts in various countries under different identities, but he was exhausted, emotionally drained, and tired of running from himself and living life in a Tube, with no family or people he could really call friends. 

Lady Luck had been on his side when several lucrative positions found their way to his doorstep upon returning home, mostly in private investigation and security. The uncertainty of the outcome and the endless flirt with danger had an irresistible appeal that gnawed at something deep-seeded, leading him right back to government service. There was no convenient way of combining his passion for guns and operative talents in a “normal” career, not even an honest relationship. Anything less would have driven to madness, and with no one to bring him back from it. 

Lisbon was exactly the way he remembered it, with the addition of new high rises and the Expo Park. Otherwise, the sultry air and the tinge of that glorious Portuguese red wine lurking around every corner was a welcome assault on the senses. As he waited in the shadows of the underground station Gare do Oriente, his sharp eyes scrutinized the commuters in the perimeter. Everyone was a suspect, and since the mark was a known master of disguises, there was no room for faulty assumptions. It could well be the old man sitting on the bench, or the middle-aged woman with the shopping cart, even the young college student with the scruffy dreadlocks. There was no current file photo of the mark, simply because not a single agency around the world had ever seen the real face, only picked up the remnants of the violent work.  

After six months of dead ends and insignificant clues, he had finally picked up a trail that led him through Iceland and now Portugal. Keeping a discrete distance to the executive in the Armani suit who alighted from the train and proceeded to the Vasco da Gama CommercialComplex, it became crystal clear to him today why nobody had spotted this criminal mastermind before. The refined and well-groomed man had entered the fitting room in one of the department stores, but it was a stunning redhead who emerged a few minutes later and threw a non-descript shopping bag into the garbage. Peering unobtrusively into the trash, the suit was there, and so were the wig, mask, false teeth and chest binder that had suppressed all traces of femininity beneath the suit. Cursing softly but violently beneath his breath, he realized this was going to be harder than he thought. 

A million thoughts raced through his mind that night as he lay in bed at the cheap motel. The fact that the mark was a woman changed the entire game plan and he was forced to re-strategize on a level he was not comfortable with at all. Wining and dining women was definitely not among his top skills. He could shoot a target from the top of a tall building or infiltrate a rebel village in the mountains of Kashmir, but charming a woman was a mystery. For the first time in his career, he was scared. 


Sorrow Lake 

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 As he looked out onto the lake holding Grandfather’s hand, the little boy wondered about the events of the day. At the tender age of five, funerals and weddings were very confusing. The entire clan seemed to gather for both events in full force, the only difference being the colour of their clothes, but he never saw the battalion of aunts and uncles otherwise. For some reason completely unknown to him, everyone cried at both occasions and made a fuss about how big he was getting.

The tremble of his grandfather’s hand pulled him out of his reverie and he gazed up at the old man’s face. The wrinkles he knew by heart seemed to have multiplied in a single afternoon, and the twinkle in the left eye that always came with a smile and an idea for something fun to do, had faded.

“Look, child, the geese have taken flight. They are taking my Beloved’s soul with them.”

Wincing as grandfather squeezed his hand tighter, the child dared not say a word the moment he felt the tears on the back of his palm; and they were not his.

They walked along the edge of the lake in silence, Grandfather lost in thought, with one or the other tear escaping down his cheek every so often. It was so strange to see him cry, when usually it was the other way around, and it was the gentle hands of experience that soothed his pain. He wanted to say something that would make Grandfather’s sadness go away, but what? How could a five-year old ever come up with something good enough that would take the place of the woman he was married to for sixty years? Then it hit him.

“Tell me a story Grandpa… tell me about the first time you met her.”

 The old man looked down affectionately at the boy and stood still. Turning towards the water, he embraced his grandson, and pointed. “It was late afternoon when my little fishing boat pulled in, after three days of being out at sea. I was tired, smelly, and in a really bad mood. All I wanted was a bowl of my mother’s hot stew and a cold beer. But I forgot all about it when I looked down into the water and saw what thought was a mermaid who had lost her way. Nobody ever went swimming in those waters because they are ice cold. Only fools and drunkards, but never pretty ladies! I should have turned away then and fled back to the open sea. I would have been safer, and my life would have been much less turbulent. I never should have offered my hand.”

The child pulled his jacket tighter around him, unsure whether the sudden drop in temperature was due to the story or the cold wind from the lake. Upon seeing the movement, the old man sat down on the sand, placed the boy on his lap, and wrapped his arms around him. It had been a long day and the last thing he wanted was to hand over a sick child back to his irate mother. Now that The Beloved was no longer amongst them, there would be nobody to bridge the rift between him and his daughter. There was too much bitterness and anger between them that seemed to worsen each time they met.

“Was she a witch Grandpa? Did she put a spell on you like they do in the books you read to me at night?”

“Oh yes, she definitely was a witch. A good one, and a very kind one, but she had magical powers that I never understood until now. She knew how to calm me down when I was angry or agitated, she always put a meal on the table even when we didn’t have much money, and no matter how unfair I treated her, she never walked out on me. I was blind to her faults, I know she secretly put money away behind my back because there were always gifts on our birthdays and Christmas. Oh but she was stubborn and could flare up, and during those times I could have sworn her eyes turned red. But she was also generous with her feelings and time.”

“Why did she have to go then?”

“So I could learn to appreciate her and finally be the father your mother never knew.”

“Ap-pre-ciate... hmmm... does that mean that you not my real grandfather then?”

“Oh yes, child, I most certainly am your grandfather, but I was always away at sea and your mother and I never really got to know each other.”

The two sat in silence staring out onto the lake. The bond between them was so strong that no words were needed to read each others minds and movements even before they happened. The grandfather stirred slightly, and the boy immediately jumped up and stretched out a small but determined hand.

“Come on Grandpa! Let’s throw some stones in the water! Maybe we can wake up a new mermaid for you”

“Oh I’m too old for a new mermaid child! Tell you what, let’s change the game a little today. For each stone, we send your grandmother a message, or a wish. I’ll start…” He bent down and picked up a small white pebble at his feet, rubbed it between his fingers and whispered “Thank you for all the dreams that came true”

The child stood with his hands in his pockets, moving the sand around with his foot, still wondering what to wish for. Then he found a star-shaped stone. “Here is a star for you to take with you among the stars Grandma.”

“For all the fights we had, and the times I wished I had hugged you instead of walked away.”

“Please send Grandpa a guardian angel”

“May you be my first and last thought always”

“Make his sadness go away”

“Help me find my way back.” 

The large white house loomed over the sand dunes, looking more intimidating than welcoming. He could see his daughter standing at the porch with her arms crossed, and even from this distance he could already feel her antagonism. He sighed heavily and hung his head in resignation. No matter what he did it was always wrong in her eyes. If only he could turn back the clock and start over with her.

“Where have you two been all this time? Everyone has been asking about you and I had no idea what to say!” she hissed even before they reached the steps.

“Don’t be mad at Grandpa Mommy, he needed to add some tears to the lake.”  

“I don’t care, we have a house full people and it is way past your bedtime.”

Standing face to face with his daughter, he looked into her eyes and realized for the first time that she had her mother’s eyes; the exact same colour that had bewitched him all those years ago. How could he have never noticed that?

“Sorry we took so long. I needed to show the boy the geese… “ and before he could finish his sentence, two tears trickled down his cheek.

She had never seen her father cry before, and in only occurred to her at that moment how much pain he must be in and how lost he must be feeling. She had always been fiercely jealous of her parents love for each other, always marveling at how they completed each other. This was probably not the time to pick another fight with him.

“Look at those posts on the lake Dad, what do they remind you of? What did Mom always say about them?”

He wiped the tears away with his shirt sleeve, turned around and managed a lopsided smile. “Your teeth when you were 12! Your mother was furious when I came home with that truckload of candy instead of an appointment with the dentist! ”

“Exactly! Why don’t we go in and tell your grandson the story… together.” 

As he looked out onto the lake holding Grandfather’s hand, the little boy wondered about the events of the day. At the tender age of five, funerals and weddings were very confusing. The entire family seemed to gather for both events in full force, the only difference being the colour of their clothes, but other than that, he never saw the battalion of aunts and uncles. For some reason completely unknown to him, everyone cried at both occasions and made a fuss about how big he was getting. 

The tremble of his grandfather’s hand pulled him out of his reverie and he gazed up at the old man’s face. The wrinkles he knew by heart seemed to have multiplied that afternoon, and the twinkle in the left eye that always came with a smile and an idea for something fun to do, had faded. 

“Look, child, the geese have taken flight. They are taking my beloved’s soul with them.”

Wincing as grandfather squeezed his hand tighter, the child dared not say a word the moment he felt the tears on the back of his palm; and they were not his. 

They walked along the edge of the lake in silence, Grandfather lost in thought, with one or the other tear escaping down his cheek every so often. It was so strange to see him cry, when usually it was the other way around, and it was the gentle hands of experience that soothed his pain. He wanted to say something that would make Grandfather’s sadness go away, but what? How can a five-year old ever come up with something good enough that would take the place of the woman he was married to for sixty years? Then it hit him. 

“Tell me a story Grandpa… tell me about the first time you met her.” 

 The old man looked down affectionately at the boy and stood still. Turning towards the water, he embraced his grandson, and pointed. “It was late afternoon when my little fishing boat pulled in, after three days of being out at sea. I was tired, smelly, and in a really bad mood. All I wanted was a plateful of my mother’s hot stew and a cold beer. But I forgot all about it when I looked down into the water and saw what thought was a mermaid who had lost her way. Nobody ever went swimming in those waters because they are ice cold. Only fools and drunkards, but never pretty ladies! I should have turned away then and fled back to the open sea. I would have been safer, and my life would have been much less turbulent. I never should have offered my hand.”

The child pulled his jacket tighter around him, unsure whether the sudden drop in temperature was due to the story or the cold wind from the lake. Upon seeing the movement, the old man sat down on the sand, placed the boy on his lap, and wrapped his arms around him. It had been a long day and the last thing he wanted was to hand over a sick child back to his irate mother. Now that The Beloved was no longer amongst them, there would be nobody to bridge the rift between him and his daughter. There was too much bitterness and anger between them that only seemed to worsen each time they met. 

“Was she a witch Grandpa? Did she put a spell on you like they do in the books you read to me at night?” 

“Oh yes, she definitely was a witch. A good one, and a very kind one, but she had magical powers that I never understood until now. She knew how to calm me down when I was angry or agitated, she always put a meal on the table even when we didn’t have much money, and no matter how unfair I treated her, she never walked out on me. I was blind to her faults, I know she secretly put money away behind my back because there were always gifts on our birthdays and Christmas. Oh but she was stubborn and could flare up, and during those times I could have sworn her eyes turned red. But she was also generous with her feelings and time.” 

“Why did she have to go then?” 

“So I could learn to appreciate her and finally be the father your mother never knew.” 

“Are you not my real grandfather then?” 

“Oh yes, child, most certainly am your grandfather, but I was always away at sea and your mother and I never really got to know each other.” 

The two sat in silence staring out onto the lake. The bond between them was so strong that no words were needed to read each others minds and movements even before they happened. The grandfather stirred slightly, and the boy immediately jumped up and stretched out a small but determined hand. 

“Come on Grandpa! Let’s throw some stones in the water! Maybe we can wake up a new mermaid” 

“Oh I’m too old for a new mermaid child! Tell you what, let’s change the game a little today. For each stone, we send your grandmother a message, or a wish. I’ll start…”He bent down and picked up a small white pebble at his feet, rubbed it between his fingers and whispered “Thank you for all the dreams that came true”

The child stood with his hands in his pockets, moving the sand around with his foot, still wondering what to wish for. Then he found a star-shaped stone. “Here is a star for you to take with you among the stars Grandma.”

“For all the fights we had, and all the times I wished I had hugged you instead of walked away.” 

“Please send Grandpa a guardian angel” 

“May you be my first and last thought always” 

“Make his sadness go away” 

“Help me find my way back.”

The large white house loomed over the sand dunes, looking more intimidating than welcoming. He could see his daughter standing at the porch with her arms crossed, and even from this distance he could already feel her antagonism. He sighed heavily and hung his head in resignation. No matter what he did it was always wrong in her eyes. If only he could turn back the clock and start over with her. 

“Where have you two been all this time? Everyone has been asking about you and I had no idea what to say!”she hissed even before they reached the steps. 

“Don’t be mad at Grandpa Mommy, he needed to add some tears to the lake.” 

“I don’t care, we have a house full people and it is way past your bedtime.” 

Standing face to face with his daughter, he looked into her eyes and realized for the first time that she had her mother’s eyes; the exact same colour that had bewitched him all those years ago. How could he have never noticed that? 

“Sorry we took so long. I needed to show the boy the geese… “and before he could finish his sentence, two tears trickled down his cheek. 

She had never seen her father cry before, and in only occurred to her at that moment how much pain he must be in and how lost he must be feeling. She had always been fiercely jealous of her parents love for each other, always marveling at how they completed each other. This was probably not the time to pick another fight with him. 

“Look at those posts on the lake Dad, what do they remind you of? What did Mom always say about them?” 

He wiped the tears away with his shirt sleeve, turned around and managed a lopsided smile. “Your teeth when you were 12! Your mother was furious when I came home with that truckload of candy instead of an appointment with the dentist! ” 

“Exactly! Why don’t we go in and tell your grandson the story… together.”