I grew up in Haarlem, in the Netherlands, which is situated close to the North Sea and surrounded by dunes and dikes and wetlands. I remember once, as we were out on our bikes driving around, we passed a statue of a boy with his finger in the dike. Probably the one in Spaarnwoude (see image). I remember that my mother told me the story about how this boy Hans had saved the dike. He saw there was a little hole in the dike and put his finger in it, to stop the water from coming through. He was the ‘hero of Haarlem’, making sure the town was not flooded.
As I read about this story now, it turns out not to be a Dutch story at all, but an American one first published in 1865. It was written by Mary Mapes Dodge. So it’s American folklore about the Netherlands. Still, for me it is a Dutch story connected to my childhood.
I wrote this story as part of a writers-workout at a group of writers I’ve recently discovered who provide interesting feedback on one’s writing. All peer-review, with some excellent writers who are able to quickly take apart your work and can point out its strengths and weaknesses. Weekly exercises make everyone challenge themselves in new and surprising ways. At least, for me, as fiction writing is still pretty new to me. At least at the rate I’m doing it now. This time round the assignment was to take a public domain fairy tale or folklore, and to rewrite it from a point of view different than that of the main protagonist of the story. Mine turned out quite nice, I think.
Read the full story on Steem
So, if you’re interested in reading from the point of view of a dike with an existential crisis, here you can read the full story.