Work Header

The Carnation, freely adapted after "The Pink" or "The Carnation" by the Brothers Grimm

Work Text:


Once upon a time -



My darling, my dearest, my carnation.

Put the knife away.

Your hands are cold, see, and white knuckled around the handle of it, your hair a flood of spun sunlight, like a halo all around you. Your eyes are tired, see, and bloodshot. Don’t you want to take a break? Come on, my flower, put the knife away. Your skin is blood dotted, see, your legs are so heavy. The fabric of your dress is soaked full of water and hangs lazy and like lead from you. The foam of the bath bomb is caught in it, like cirrus in the sky of your dress, in the light of your hair. And I am lying here under you, nothing but the hot water all around me, the knife in your hands pointed at my mouth and I daren’t breathe.

Come on, my darling. Put the knife away. Let me wipe the salt and the water off your cheeks. We just have to hide it, see – perhaps we will bury it in a jar full of plotting soil and drive to Italy in some old car that costs way too much to rent, maybe we will throw the jar into the sea and watch it drown. Perhaps I’ll melt it down and pour something new out of it – a necklace, too fragile to strangle me with, or knitting needles, too dull to stab me with.

Let me help, my carnation. Put the knife away and get out of the bathtub or you will drown in here with me or choke on all the soap. Look at the water, my darling, look at how clear and foamed white it is – wouldn’t it be a shame to sully it? How long would it take to turn the water as red as the roses I bought for you in the supermarket at the corner? They’re still blooming, see. Let me see them wilt, my carnation.

Give me the knife.




My mother wanted a child.

And, god, did my mother want a child that grows in here, a child that makes her stomach swell, a child to love, a child to feed, a child to put in her husband’s lap. And as she was lying down, her legs spread, the leather of the chair sticking to her bare skin and steel cold between her legs, trying to see shapes in the plaster of the ceiling, the gynaecologist cleared his throat. She lifted her head.

“I am very sorry, Mrs König“, he said and smiled. She closed her legs. “You’re not pregnant.”

He took off the latex gloves and threw them into the paper bin that stood next to the chair. “This is the tenth attempt. We can try again, but you will have to decide for yourself if that still makes sense for you.”

And, god, did my mother want a child.

So she reached for her bag and her underwear, got dressed and left the doctor’s office, her knuckles white, her cheeks blotched red. She pressed herself into the last row of seats on the bus that took her from the surgery to the street she lived in, and her bag to her stomach.

I wish.



Here is how to make a wish, truly:

Sit in the grass, still damp from the dew and close your eyes, wait until your feet and your hands grow numb, until the dew has crept in your clothes and under your skin. Look up into the sky and watch the moon sink lazily towards the Horizon, pale and so, so heavy, watch as the sun slowly drags itself across the sky, and still dishevelled with sleep. The world is still and breathless around you, not even the busses are on the streets yet, put your head back and watch as the sun wakes, as the moon goes to sleep.

And when your eyes grow tired, when you can see the echoes of sunlight flicker behind your eyelids, when tears burn on your cheeks and you cannot feel your hands anymore – close your eyes, reach for the world and make a wish.

And, god, did my mother want a child.



My father wanted a boy, strong and smeared with dirt and laughing, who pulls little girls’ pigtails and watches as they skin their arms in the bark mulch under the swing set. My father wanted a boy in dungarees and with a voice that would break with a hitch, a body that would stumble towards adulthood shivering.

My mother wanted a little cherub, with curls and red cheeks, who she could hold in her arms and spoil. My mother wanted a boy to gift toy cars and the world to.

Instead, there was I.

Little blood soiled bundle of a voice loud enough to all but make the world shake, little girl with little hands and big dark eyes, my fingers curled around the nurse’s, kicking my legs. My father took me, a smile on his lips, the light of the setting sun in his eyes, and pressed me to his chest, to his heartbeat. My mother reached for me, with trembling hands and her throat raw, but my father didn’t let go of me.

“In a moment, dear”, he said and didn’t take his eyes nor his hands off me. My mother tried to pull herself up.



I wish.
It comes true



A handy guide to a kidnapping:

You need:
a chicken
a meat cleaver
a narcotic
the greed of the world on your hands and under your fingernails


The man who saw my first steps and my whole life wasn’t my father.

He baked the most beautiful cakes, the most wondrous bread, cooked meat so tender that a spoon could sink through it, and for all these years, he looked at me with eyes so bright and clear, as freshly frozen ice, so blue that they looked white. He smelled of mint and iron and when I was a small girl, I curled into him and his food stained apron, and with each year, my hair grew darker. He held me close, with strong hands and laughter full of heart, full get-up-early-and-feed-the-chickens-pet-the-rabbits.

         “Wish us a home in which we needn’t hunger. Wish us animals that never fall sick, a roof that never leaks, a world that never crumbles.”

On my fifth birthday, after he’d braided my hair and tied my shoelaces, I twirled around in the dress he gave me, blue and smooth and swinging wide and I laughed with my child’s mouth full of teeth. He laughed with me, picked me up and carried me to the rabbit pen.


(My carnation, I’d never cried like that.

Do you know it? You cry until your cheeks are sore, until your eyes are swollen and your lips are chapped, until your lungs cry for air and your throat cries for water. And then you keep on crying, until your cheeks are stained red and your hands are knuckled white.

Like I do?

Yes. Like that.)


There was this rabbit. Black fluffed and big eyed, dark, with floppy ears, and each morning, it sat on my lap and looked at me as if I was the moon that hangs cool and heavy in the night sky.

We had fifteen rabbits, white and black and red and brown spotted, with fluffy scuts and twitching ears and pink noses and when I was five years old, I held them all to a block of wood as the meat cleaver hung heavy in his hands. When I was five years old, the black rabbit looked at me as if I was the mood, cool and crisp and so far away, and I cried until my clavicles were wet and salt stained.

We ate rabbit that night and he gifted me the black rabbit’s pelt on my sixth birthday.



Make a wish.



Elke König convicted of infanticide

Elke König (30) was convicted to serve life this morning at 9:35 by the Viennese regional court. On August 6th, her husband Jochen König (32) found her in their shared flat, covered in blood and sleeping by the empty crib of their three month old child. She was taken into custody and has now, after a lengthy process and despite her lawyer’s strict insistence on his client’s innocence, been convicted.

Her lawyer called the lack of a corpse in this lawsuit “grossly negligent”. In front of the press, he expressed his intention to advocate for a softening of his client’s sentence. “There is no corpe”, he said this noon on a press conference, “and whatever evidence the prosecution has to indicate my mandator’s guilt, they are insufficient.”

Jochen König, who inherited a million dollar textile empire and has now been managing it for ten years, abstained from commenting on the issue, but during the public hearing he has been quoted as threatening divorce and calling his wife a “filthy child murderer”.

More about König und Co GmbH’s expansive influence on page 7.



Elke König on hunger strike!

Elke König (30), who was transferred to the regional prison of Vienna, has reportedly refused to eat for three days. “I’m innocent”, she says, and that she wouldn’t eat until her case would be picked up for retrial.

“Of course we make sure that our prisoners eat properly”, says Achim L., the spokesperson for the judicial authority. “Mrs König can make threats all she likes, but she has to eat at least once a day.”



Cook (m/f) wanted
Family König wants competent and experienced cook. 39,5 hrs/week, 2 000€ brutto per month, overpay for over qualification possible. Terminable after a year.
get in touch:
+43 183 0481916 or via email to
(ad placed on 11/03/1998)



When I was thirteen, I was tall and thin and long legged, with a mouth full of too-big teeth, and black curls that fell almost to my chin, with holes in my trousers and grass spots on my sleeves, my eyes big enough to swallow the sky and all the world with it. My chest ached, with all the earnestness of growing and changing, and my back did as well, striped red and groaning as my bones reached for the moon.

In the mornings, I sat bent over the heavy oak table in the lobby, my hand cramped around a pencil, brows furrowed, as a woman who didn’t know and couldn’t touch me explained algebra to me through a screen. “Public schools are nonsense”, said the man who raised me. “I need you here. How am I supposed to tend to the farm alone?” I dug my teeth into my lower lip and said nothing.

I thought of a black fluffed rabbit and its moon addicted eyes and the blood that clung to my child hands, and I jabbed the pin of my dividers so hard into my notebook that it got stuck in the wood of the table.

He interrupted the skype call. I threw the ruler on the table and the door into its hinges.



On the hill behind the farm that was my child world grew carnations and roses from the same soil. And I, gangly thing, no longer child and not yet woman, sat amidst it all and held my freckles into the sun, with my skin all in cuts and all the world’s wishes on my lips. Roses like bloody things, as red as their petals, so they grew big and vibrant around me and in between them, the world and the carnations stood still.

This was your home, my carnation. In between thorned roses and bloody soil, in the hands of a girl whose world ended at an old wooden fence. Your petals were as pink as your skin is today, with the white nightgown that the water makes cling to you, as red as your cheeks, wet with tears. The yellow of your hair is new. I think it’s my favourite of all your colours.



I wish.

I wish and the world turns for me. I wish that a flower makes a girl, with hair like the light of the sun at noon, and you take your first breath with lungs. I wish that you may stay with me for a life and that he may never point the cleaver at you. Do as he says, my carnation, so that you may live. I wish that your eyes never long for the moon.



You come into my world on a hot summer day in august, when the sky was without clouds and the world was dipped in hot light. You looked at me, then, squinting, a hand held to your forehead, the green dress almost slipped from your shoulders and I could scarcely see where your hair ended and the world began, with the light of the sun behind you. And then you smiled, with pale lips and dimples in your cheeks, amidst the rose bushes and the blooming carnations.

“Hey”, you called, laughing. “Do you think you have a bed for me?”

I took you home with me, in between wood and stone and cattle and you dragged me through the stables and the pens, your hands in every fur, on every feather, laughing and dancing and I couldn’t take my eyes off you as you gave them all a name.

“Can she stay?”

The man who raised me, who killed my rabbit and stained me with blood, pulled a face. “If she doesn’t make a fuss”, he said and looked at you, new as you were, flower that you still were, and he pointed at you with a butter knife. “As long as you do your work and listen to me, you can have the empty room on the first floor. Have you ever worked on a farm before?”



(I’m sorry.

Me too.)



We carried the mattress into my room, our laughter almost a shriek, your legs in a pair of old trousers, the shirt barely buttoned, and put it next to my bed.

It would stay there for years to come.

In this first night, you got to know your legs, in the clumsy waltz that I tried to teach you, your hair in my hands, your head in my lap as we looked at each other and couldn’t keep our laughter locked behind our teeth, as big as it was, and as loud.

I braided your hair to a crown around your head and you put dandelions and daisies into mine and your skin still felt like the petals of a carnation, soft and fragile and pastel pink, so bright against my sun burnt skin.



When I turned seventeen, I kissed you for the first time. You tasted of the fresh cow milk that we stole from the milking machine, and of the raspberries that grew beyond the wooden fence. My hands were scratched raw and still bled and you had put your lips on each of my wounds, ever so softly, and smiled at me. This time it was I who tilted my head back to see the moon, to touch it even once.

Your hands were smooth and soft. You had clipped the thorns off every rose you’d plucked and twined into a wreath that lay heavy and fragrant in my curls until it withered and wilted.

In this moment, with your lips on my skin and your roses in my hair, I put a hand on your cheek, my tanned skin dark against your pallor, the red of my blood like the tips of your petals, and kissed you.



New evidence in König case

According to an anonymous source which leaked a surveillance video to die Presse, on which the Königs’ flat is clearly visible, doubts about the death of the Königs’ child have arisen. On the video, a masked person is seen exiting the flat through the main entrance. They were carrying an infant.

Elke König (50), who has been convicted of murdering her daughter twenty years ago, abstained from commenting on this. Her lawyer however, who had back then advocated strongly for his client’s innocence, denies allegations that Mrs König may have been involved in her daughter’s kidnapping. “My mandate has been tricked and framed for a crime she did not commit”, he said in an interview. “I strongly advise the persecution to reopen the case due to the new evidence presented.”

Jochen König (52) reluctant in the face of the press as ever, refused to talk to our reporters.



When I turned twenty, you kneeled above me, a knife in your hands and tears on your cheeks. Your knuckles were white, your lips swollen red and your nightgown like spun fog in the half dark of my room. I looked at you and had to think of a five year old girl who pressed her favourite rabbit against a wooden block and cried for the entire world, her new dress salt crusted from it all.

Your clavicles shone wet in the moonlight and your chest moved in desperate gasps. You looked at me, the knife pointed to my mouth, and I could hear the man who raised me walk up and down the hallway just outside my door, his boots heavy on the wooden floor.

“What does he want?”, I asked and the blade fogged up with my breath.

“Your heart”, you said, your voice wet with tears. “Your tongue.”



The worst thing about slaughtering a pig to have its heart and tongue pose for one’s own and to smear its blood on one’s blanket, is to stand in the stables at five in the morning, tear blurred, and to watch the woman one loves, the woman whose lips one has kissed red and swollen just a half-hour ago, grab her own hands each time they try to reach for the knife.

The worst thing is lying under the heavy duvet as the man who braided one’s hair and tied one’s shoelaces, who baked twenty birthday cakes and created one’s entire world, walks through the room with heavy steps and cradles a pig’s heart in one hand, a pig’s tongue in the other.

The worst thing is knowing that they should be one’s own.

The worst thing are the tears of the woman one loves.



I wish.



I left my world that same evening for the first time and it was like walking through a mirror. Like reaching into an oil painting that should have never been touched, like walking into the world with big dark eyes, your hand in mine, the knife in my pocket.

(“Leave me here”, you’d said, your voice still wavering, and I tucked a strand of your light-hair behind your ear. “Please, leave me here. I will get my hands on that knife one day.”

“I love you”, I’d said and kissed your rough lips. „You are everything I know.“

“I will kill you.” The sun set behind you, as it did when I first saw you, your hair like light, your skin freckle dotted and so pale, flower that you are, fairy tale creature that you are. “When you can’t stay alert anymore, I will kill you.”

“I know.”)

The world spun around us and with us and I didn’t let go of your hand as we walked up the stairs to the door over which big letters spelled the word police. I was stolen twenty years ago. Please, who am I?



Elke König proven innocent!

In a twist that could be from a movie script, the missing and for a long time presumed dead daughter of Elke(50) and Jochen König(52) appeared in a small police station in Mannersdorf (NÖ). The young woman (20) was immediately questioned and has confirmed under oath that her mother had nothing to do with her disappearance.

Elke König had been convicted to serve a life sentence in August of 1998. At the time of Miss König’s appearance, the case had already been reopened, but Mrs König has only today been released from arrest. In the face of the press, she was very shy. “I want to see my child”, she said to our reporters, but refused to answer further questions.

A video of Jochen König appeared on the internet two days ago. In it, he apologizes to his daughter and his wife while crying and asked his daughter to come home. The video already has over four million clicks and has been shared across many platforms. In an interview, Mr König told us that the return of his wife and daughter has the highest priority in his life right now. He interrupted a business trip to Paris just for them, he says.

The Königs’ daughter hasn’t been seen in public yet, but she has left a comment on her father’s video from an apparently only recently created account, asking him for more time to get used to this strange new world.


Königs’ child home at last!

The long lost daughter (20) of Jochen and Elke König (52 and 50, see picture) appeared abruptly in front of her father’s firm on Wednesday. She was accompanied by a young woman whose hand she refused to let go of, and she spoke to her father in front of all present employees without waiting to be shown to his office.

Parts of the conversation were recorded and put online, including Miss König’s statement that she’d read of her kidnapping in the press archives and couldn’t understand why Mr König had immediately dropped his wife. If she will keep in contact with her father is doubtful.



Elke König found dead in shared flat!

Elke König (50) was found dead in the flat she shares with her husband (52) only a few days after her release. Apparently, she had been eating only what she was forced to during her stay in prison and had, upon her arrival at home, refused to eat or drink entirely, as a distraught Jochen König tells the Heute.

“She wouldn’t eat or drink no matter what I tried to do to force her. I am deeply ashamed of the way I’ve treated my wife these past twenty years and I wish I could make it undone somehow.”

Elke König has died of thirst on August 25th, according to the police.




My darling, my dearest, my carnation.

Now I am twenty-one and you kneel wet above me, the foam of the bath bomb in your dress and in your hair, the knife pointed at me, tears heavy on your cheeks. Give me the knife, my carnation.

Don’t you want to take a break? You’ve scratched your nails bloody, see, on the plaster behind which we’ve hidden the knife. Come on, give me the knife. Your wedding band is all but ground to dust, see.

Give yourself a moment’s rest.

My parents are as dead as the pig we slaughtered together, do you remember how much blood there was? Come on. We don’t have to sully the bathtub. I’ve brought you roses from the supermarket, let me see them wilt.

I love you. Give me the knife.



You don’t give me the knife. After a year, you don’t have the strength for it.

(I can understand that, my darling. Come on, put my tongue and my heart into the jar above the stove. Put it next to the roses and wilt with them.

I love you. Scatter my ashes in the field of flowers you came from.

Promise me.

I promise.)




- and if they still live, only god can know.