“Reunion”: a short story documents a collaborative writing process. Illustration: Luigi Olivadoti



“Hey! Are you okay?” says a voice.
Vela opens her eyes.

“Hello? Can you hear me?”
A blurred face hovers over her.

Vela turns her head to one side. She takes a deep breath in and out.
Concrete. Her bike is lying on the road. Cars are passing in slow motion.

Vela’s ears are ringing.
Again the voice: “Come, we have to get off the road.”

Two hands help her up.
“There you go, sit on the curb.”

Vela pulls her cap off her head and wipes her sweaty forehead.
“You’re bleeding!”
A sharp pain shoots through her head.
“I’ll get some first aid. Wait here. I’ll be right back!”

Vela sees the person hurry across the street and disappear into the house opposite.

“I’ll be right back.”
Four words, each a stab in Vela’s chest.

Suddenly the images are back: Sera zipping up her jacket and trying to slip into her boots at the same time. Not looking up from the floor for a second. Throwing her scarf over her shoulder and calling on her way out, “I’ll be right back!”
Then the squeaking of rubber soles in the hallway and the door slamming shut behind her.

Sera hasn’t come back. Sera’s gone.

Time and again, Vela looked for signs. For cracks. For mistakes or slights. For a plan that Sera had kept secret from her.

The ringing in Vela’s ears subsides, and the images she recalls, so clear a moment ago, begin fading.

Vela wipes her bloody hand, pulls herself up and limps across the street to the house entrance.

She pushes open the door and steps cautiously into a dimly lit hallway. Through the open door to her right, she hears a gentle splashing and two voices.

“Is your sister in today?”
“No, mum, someone has fallen off their bike and urgently needs my help. I just need to …”
“How nice, both daughters reunited! Come, help me out of the bath.”

Vela holds onto the door frame and peers into the bathroom. She sees an old woman wearing a bathing suit and sunglasses sitting on the edge of a full bathtub.

“Give me a towel, dear. Let’s get her into the sunshine with us!”
“Mum, a cyclist is hurt out on the street, she needs my help.”
“Has she come straight from Berlin?”

Vela watches the daughter put a bathrobe around her mother and carefully help her to her feet from the edge of the tub.

“Listen, mum. I have to go out again. Someone’s hurt and needs my help.”
“Did she take the plane?”
“Come on, I’ll take you to the kitchen window, you can watch from there.”

“Has she washed her hands?” the mother asks, nodding in Vela’s direction.

The daughter spins round towards the door.

Vela lets go of the door frame and raises her hands.
“Don’t worry,” she says, “it’s only me.”

This story was developed from start to finish by eight Art Education and Transdisciplinarity master’s students during the cultural journalism project seminar “Collaborative Writing” run by Dominic Oppliger (
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