Essays & Stories

Bearing Witness to Anna

Four of us sit in Herr M.’s office at Berlin’s State Office of Criminal Investigation, a massive, rundown thirty-year-old building of steel and glass: Anna, who is being heard, accompanied by Monika, a social worker from “Solidarity with Women in Distress,” Herr M., the detective, and myself, an interpreter whom the police call in maybe six times a year.



I was helping an acquaintance—a slim, delicately built dancer—transport props between the theater where she had performed the previous evening and her home. The dancer, Joanne, said, “My husband doesn’t like it when my props clutter our apartment—I guess we’d better put the stuff in our basement storage.”



I was riding my bicycle. The summer morning in Berlin was sunny but still cool. Early in the day before the emergence of those cyclists who just take their sweet time, it’s often smooth, swift riding.


An Actress

Together with six others, I attended an acting workshop one weekend. We each introduced ourselves. Cara said that she’s studying film and TV acting. Cara’s got the whole package: huge almond-shaped eyes, long legs, broad, beautiful smile, long, full wavy hair.



When I see Jenny at the theater I can’t take my eyes off her. It’s not that she’s stunningly beautiful, though she is perky and fresh, full of youthful energy.


Power Games

We’d woken up in Berlin 23.5 hours earlier, but one does need a bite to eat and to at least make an attempt to arrive in a new time zone. So we’re sitting outside at an Italian place in Los Angeles, plastic chairs and tables but ironed tablecloths. View of the Pacific if we sit a bit sideways, sun going down this month much earlier than back home. I’m alternately zoning out and relating fragments of conversation I pick up around us to my husband.


Triggering the Imagination

“You’re a stupid bitch!” A disembodied woman’s voice spoke with a gentle laughing lilt.

I craned my neck to see around my friend: two women were just sitting down at a neighboring outdoor table.