Ping Pong


            A boy goes to a club where nobody knows him.
            A woman looks after a cat belonging to someone she’s never met.
            A man wanders through the city at night spraying images of fat little men on walls. 

There are three stories, and each story is made up of three chapters. So reading it means navigating through a total of nine chapters, all of which are connected in some way.

The work is an online reading experiment based on a story made by Anneke Hymmen and Kumi Hiroi and Basje Boer. The story is developed by responding alternately photos and texts – photos created by Hymmen and Hiroi and text written by Boer. There are three points of view in the narrative and it sometimes overlaps. The story is translated to an online reading experience by Hiroi and van Leeuwen & van Leeuwin. The work is primarily designed for mobile screen.

Concept, Research and Development: Kumi Hiroi Photo: Hymmen & Hiroi Text: Basje Boer User Experience: Kumi Hiroi & van Leeuwen & van Leeuwen Supported by Suzanne Meeuwissen and Joris van Ballegooijen. The project is part of 'literature on screen 2018' powered by Dutch Foundation for Literature and Dutch Creative Industry Fund.


He closes the door behind him. Walks into the kitchen and puts his things on the counter: bike keys, house keys, the stencil, the spray cans. He takes off his coat. The battery of his phone is dead but the orange numbers on the microwave show the time. Nearly four thirty and he’s wide awake. He feels an urge to see the sun.

            When she’s not there, he feels restless. It’s a pleasant kind of restlessness. ‘You’re always busy,’ she’d said. For someone who’s unemployed, he’d added mentally. 

              He gives the milk carton he finds in the fridge a shake, then twists off the cap and sniffs. Turns the kettle on and empties a sachet of instant soup in a mug. Throws the milk carton in the bin.

He has left his trace again in the city. He always sprays the same figure: a fat little man with a wide grin.
            The light hasn’t got going yet. The kettle turns off with a click.

            Even that very first time, he’d let her do the talking. The only talking he did was in the way he looked at her. He studied her carefully, with that same look, once he’d made up his mind to give in.

            She knew it, that he’d give in. When he left, she said: ‘I’m coming with you.’

            He stirs the soup until it’s smooth. Leaning against the counter, he takes a sip. As it gets lighter outside, the outlines of the few pieces of furniture stand out more clearly against the white walls.

He still doesn’t understand what she wants from him.

             She’d followed him. He hadn’t looked around once, but he knew she was there. He took the Metro; she sat down in the seat next to him. He got out, so did she. He went into his building, she rushed forward and grabbed the door before it shut. They stood side-by-side in the lift. She looked at him and he looked at his shoes.

            First there’s the pink.

            They’d sat on the sofa for a while. He didn’t say a word, neither did she. Then he’d gone to bed. There were no doors in his house apart from the front door and the door to the bathroom. He hadn’t been able to see her, but he’d heard her light a cigarette. Heard the rustle of her clothes, of her exhaling smoke, the sound of her taking off her shoes. Suddenly she was standing next to his bed. ‘That’s enough.’

            Then there’s orange.

            She talks, he looks. She pays, he refuses. Sometimes. She comes looking for him, he never goes to her place. They stay at home, in his bed. Sometimes he doesn’t turn up when they’ve arranged to meet: he’s his own man, he doesn’t owe her anything. He stares at his shoes and waits for her to stop shouting. He gets used to it, gets used to her. He crawls under the blanket and kisses her all over. She squirms with pleasure.

            Then the dawn curls around the horizon.