He eased the lever by his leg and felt the huge crane swivel round. One more crate to be loaded and the massive container ship would be ready to depart in the morning, destined for Shanghai.

The green light flashed on the dashboard and he began lowering slowly until he heard the satisfying ‘clunk’ of metal nestling on the stack of containers. Below, he saw the stevedores securing chains around it.

‘Okay, Malthe,’ the radio crackled. ‘We’re done. Come on down.’

Half an hour later, Malthe joined the others in the bar. Every Friday night for as long as he could remember the dock workers in Aarhus had gathered here to drink, argue, fight and make up. His father had been a regular, his grandfather before him.

‘What does the Union think about it?’ Elias was asking Malthe. ‘The port gets busier, more jobs created and they all go to the Turks, the Lebanese, the Syrians, the Somalians. They should be protected for us.’

‘Who is us?’ Malthe asked.

‘You know what I mean. The Danish. They are our jobs.’

‘So long as the port is busy and the ships come here, all of our jobs are safe. There is enough work for everyone. Danish, Somali, Turks alike.’

‘They drive wages down for us all, willing to work for peanuts,’ Elias continued. He knew he had the backing of most of the dock workers surrounding them in the bar.

‘There is no evidence to support that. Do not believe everything the press writes.’

‘Bah,’ Elias sighed and turned away.

Malthe finished his Hof lager and put his empty glass on the bar. ‘Goodnight gentleman. Until Monday morning.’ He was aware of the grumbles and looks directed towards his back as he left. He had grown used to them.

Outside, the air breeze from the Kattegat Sea refreshed him after the musty bar. He walked along the docks and out to the main road, then followed the coast north. An hour later he reached his home. The bright lights and sounds of the night blew up from the city below.

He walked quietly up the stairs and undressed in the dark. He slipped into bed and nestled into Aamino’s curved back. She stirred but didn’t wake. She took his arm and folded it over her stomach. In the moonlight, Malthe marvelled at his pale Scandinavian skin contrasted against her dark African hue.

He fell into a light sleep. It had taken years for Aamino to remain undisturbed through a full night. The nightmares, the screams, the sweating, all had gradually abated.

Malthe had been patient. There are rules here, he would tell her, laws that would protect her. Here she would be safe. He would protect her. Eventually she believed his promise.

She rolled over onto her back with a small grunt of discomfort. Malthe adjusted his position, his hand still covered her midriff. Gently, he rubbed her soft skin and waited to feel the life growing inside of her respond.

Written as part of The A to Z Challenge 2018. Click HERE for more details of the challenge.

Each day in April we will visit a different town or city in the European Union, whose name will begin with the letter of the day – today it’s the port city of Aarhus in Denmark – for a story based on a theme also corresponding to the same letter.

Over the course of the month and 26 stories, we will visit all 28 member countries to complete a farewell tour before Britain leaves the political union next year, touching on the history, politics, culture and people at the heart of Europe.

For a full list of stories and the places visited, visit here: THE A TO Z CHALLENGE 2018.

151 responses to “A IS FOR AARHUS, DENMARK”

  1. Hola, Iain. Remember me? I must apologize I haven’t read much of your posts since the last A-Z challenge. Good theme this year and Aarhus is a nice choice for A. Loved the tale. Hope Aamino and Malthe stay together always.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. This is beautiful. And so much required. Bringing the world closer. On to B! Good luck for the rest of the challenge!
    BTW, I see you have done an amazing collection of flash fiction! I am going to be around more!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Visiting for the first time after finding your blog on the participant list for the #Challenge. Your blog is what I love about April. What an interesting theme which I look forward to following and learning. An ambitious offering for your theme. I appreciate the clarity of your blog, a not too long written post, and great information. Thanks for all the effort this takes. If you have time, and books and bookstores have any interest, come and join me on a tour of BOOKSTORES, their architecture, locations and the great folks who sell books. Stephenyhoughtlin.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Stepheny, I’m glad you found my blog and hope you enjoy some of the other stories this month. Look forward to hopping over to your blog and seeing what bookstores you visit – I love browsing in a good store 🙂


  4. I read your “B” post, then went back to read “A” and now I am going to “C”. I am hooked. I was there in the crane, in the bar, and in the bed. Wonderful writing.


  5. Hi Iain! Finally, I get a day to catch up on reading. The beginning of your story sounds like many arguments I’ve heard here in the US. Only substitute “Turks” with “Mexican”. I’m glad it didn’t end that way. Lovely, lovely story! Thanks for taking us around Europe in a less conventional way. D.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, thank you for reading. Definitely something I’ve learned writing these is that the times and places are interchangeable, we keep returning to the same old arguments through time and space. Hope you enjoy more of the posts to come 🙂


  6. This is wonderful. Such vivid descriptions and strong dialog! I especially enjoyed the way you showed Malthe’s skin tone contrasting with Aamino’s. Using the moonlight was such a good idea. Happy A to Z!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Loved this beginning Ian. So relevant in a world that continues to be racist despite knowing better, and also very sweet at the the end with his wife and unborn child. You created a powerful image here against racism and the love of family. Sorry. I’m behind, I’ve read a few of your A to Z’s here & there, but haven’t commented yet. Or read through consecutively so I’m catchup up. Great start:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mandi. It is difficult to keep up reading all the A to Z blogs while trying to write them too. No need to apologise, the stories will be there for you to read when you get the chance, thanks for reading as always 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Iain! I love your theme. As far your writings go, you know I love them as well. One of the reasons, I find this fascinating is because I have never been to Europe. Seeing the EU through your eyes and fictional tales will be very interesting. This is expertly written..the ending was a pleasant surprise. Neatly woven as always. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Vivid story. The characters, the atmosphere, the discontent of the Danish workers and the love between Malthe and Aamino all came to life. You are an excellent writer! Am looking forward to reading the rest of your stories.

    Liked by 1 person

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