Oct 18, 2009 by

Olaf’s Round 8 Challenges (Word limit – 600):
* Incorporate an encounter by a visitor from Portugal (given by Margarida Medeiros).
* Describe how Ron sublimates his lost love (given by Emily Markides)

Read OLAF 7 here (see “Similar Posts” at the bottom of this post for any earlier entries)

Portuguese Literature

Olga’s daughter broke the silence. “Yes?”

Ron had blanked on her name. “Hi. You must be…” Her bra strap was light green. Not turquoise but close enough.


He cleared his throat. “Yes.” He glanced into the empty room behind her. “I’m an old friend of Olga.”

“Of course I know who you are! I’m Annikki. Mama told us all about you.” Her cheeks dimpled just like Olga’s once had. “We were hoping you’d come by.”

She waited for Ron to speak. The words had gone out of him. Ron raised the ziplock. “Tuna steak. It’s for you… for your family. Just tell your mother that—”

She swung the door open wide. “Mama would hit me over the head if I let you leave!”

“No, I can’t stay. I’ve—”

Annikki hooked her elbow around Ron’s arm. “No chance!” She was a foot shorter than him. She leaned in and pulled on his arm, smiling. The collar of her sky blue dress hung down, displaying her pale breasts and the light green cups of her bra. He turned his gaze away.

“They’ll be here in a second. Mama and Ransu just went next door.”

Ron let himself be pulled into the room. “Is your father here–?”

“Stepfather,” she interrupted. “No. Pellervo’s next door too.”

Annikki was still tugging Ron into the apartment when Olga appeared, silhouetted in the sunlit doorway. Annikki released his elbow. He turned to face her.

They both stood motionless. Then Olga walked up to him. “Oh, Ron,” she said softly and hugged him. Ron just stood with his arms hanging at his sides. He raised them in a halting motion and feebly returned the hug. He was still holding the bag of tuna.

There were footsteps along the walkway. Olga abruptly pulled away from him. A guest walked by. Olga said something in Finnish to Annikki, who had been watching in the corner. Annikki slipped out of the apartment, smiling at Ron as she shut the door behind her.

Olga turned her back to him. “I’m sorry,” she said, wiping her eyes. She laughed and her voice cracked. “I didn’t think this would happen after so long.”

She turned back and looked up at him. “You look good, Ron.” Her face was furrowed with lines. It wasn’t the face he remembered. Not even the face from her Facebook picture, although he had been drinking that night.

“Maybe for an old washed-up sunovabitch.” Olga waited for him to say something else. She lowered her eyes. “I’m sorry. This is too much.” She walked to the bathroom. There was a rush of water from the sink tap. Splashing sounds.

When she came out her face had smoothed over. “Ransu and Pellervo should be back soon. They’re having coffee with a new friend from Lisbon who’s staying a few apartments down. She convinced Ransu he must visit Portugal some day. She even gave him a book of translated poems from a Portuguese writer. You’d like Ransu. He was hoping you might take him out fishing…” She clutched her hands. “I’m sorry. I’m talking too much. You’ve barely said a word.” She looked up at him. “Please, Ron. Say something.”

Ron held up the bag of tuna steaks. “I figured you don’t get much Gulf of Maine tuna up in Finland. I also got you some vodka and kahlua, but I thought the husband may not appreciate that too much so I left it back at the place.”

Olga took the tuna “You couldn’t have brought a better gift. Keep the bottles for your bar. I stopped drinking fifteen years ago.”

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  1. I like this a lot Olaf – you bring lots of different emotions into play here and I really felt for Ron – even though there was a weird creepy Humbert Humbert moment there. The awkwardness of the meeting with Olga is beautifully portrayed by the fact he’s still clinging to the bag of tuna steaks as he tries to hug her.

    I believe this is your best piece yet and doubt we’ll be seeing the back of you any time soon.


    • I agree with Jodi – the awkwardness of Ron clutching onto the bag of fish is so endearing (even though he’s just been perving down the top of a girl possibly young enough to be his daughter…)

      I love all the little details you put into your writing, Olaf. Can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next week (c:

  2. seldoml seen

    I tend to agree. Olaf’s best yet. Its all the more odd given it follows his worst effort. It seems he found inspiration somewhere, and i’m glad of it.
    Maybe thats what was in that bag of tuna?

    what works here, Olaf, is that we’ve all done this at some point.

    haven’t we Nora?

  3. Christ, I even got the nod from seldom seen. That’s an occasion to be remembered.

    Who the hell names his main character Humbert Humbert? I had to do a search on that. One thing I best clear up is that Annikki is 24 not 12. Maybe still weird and creepy but not 12 year-old weird and creepy. Olga mentions it in her Facebook message to Ron. Not that I remember. I had to look it up myself to make sure. Maybe Jodi it’s because she kept saying Mama that suggested the pre teen glow.

    I couldn’t come up with any better way for a Finn in her 20s to call her mom. It’s a sunovabitch trying to write like someone who’s not speaking her mother tongue.

  4. I’m in full agreement with Jodi and seldom seen. I really think you have pulled out the stops. You’ve managed to successfully portray the simple but very emotional, deep inner feelings of both the main characters. This evokes a true feeling of sorry at a youthful opportunity for happiness and love thrown away on an immature whim.
    Not just your best but right up there with the best of the rest. Well done.

    • P.S. The agreement with seldom seen relates to her praise not her comments on past entries – I thought your last entry was good as well.

  5. seldom seen

    jd i hate brake your heart here but, oh how to put it, I AM NOT A WOMAN.
    last time i checked, anyhow.

  6. Good on you, JD. Christ, I got a laugh out of that one. Seldom Seen, you’re taking some heat, my boy. That’s what you get when you start spreading lies about seaweed and talking smack about Nora.

  7. Jay

    I’m fascinated by Ron. There seems to be so much going on here. Great emotion. I really want to read more.

  8. I liked it too Olaf, but was the challenge to “redirect the love for Olga” met by Ron’s lusting over Anniki’s light green cups or the bags of tuna? I’m skeptical… I was hoping it wasn’t going to turn that way, but there seems to be so much in term of disturbing desire in many of these tales that I’m wondering if you’re not all trying to outdo one another at this point. Don’t get me wrong, I too really enjoyed this story. Well done.

  9. I’m not sure about the “redirect” prompt either, but I like this scene a lot.

    • I owe an explanation on the “redirect” prompt. The challenge emailed to me read “How does Olaf sublimate his lost love?” I amended it to simplify the language. I shouldn’t have tampered with it because it changed the meaning. I’m going to change it back. Olaf’s response is valid either way. Having said that, maybe Olaf wouldn’t have had Ron staring down Annikki’s chest if I’d kept to the original challenge. I’m sure Ron can deal with it.

  10. I’ll take redirect over sublimate any day. First it was astral projection, now it’s sublimate. Christ, I can only learn so many new words in one month.

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