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This is my first story in the English section of Lit, It is a translation of a story I published earlier this year in the Dutch Taboo section.
*For the Dutch readers among you, check my other contributions ;^)
I would like to thank oldnakeddad for helping me with the translation. I hope I can ask you again for some help.
Well off we go, have fun
“Follow that car!” I shouted while jumping into the backseat of the taxi and pointing at the blue Audi going past us.
The driver turns around and looks at me quizzically and lazily.
“That car, follow that car, please!” I almost shout, panting, as I can still see it disappearing in the distance.
This driver is not a skilled driver, like in the movies, this driver merely shrugged his shoulders lazily and turned slowly out of the parking lot.
This went quite the other way than it would have gone in the movies. In the movies, we would have at least made one turn on two smoking tires, used some obstacles as a launcher and dodged some explosions.
This pursuit would have been more successful by foot, I thought to myself, in despair.
I was ten years old and I was lying, lazily, on my bed. I had recently received a new book from my cousin, Luuk, a scrapbook with Disney princesses and princes. Each page was an empty scene in which you could paste the stickers, using your own imagination.
At every scene, I would put the prince, Luuk, and princess, me, lovingly together.
Luuk had picked me up in his car that morning and we had visited the geological museum that day. He told me all about everything in the museum, the formation of the continents, the immense age of the Earth and the vastness of the universe…Luuk knew a lot.
It was then when I had my first sense of my infinite smallness and insignificance and I felt goosebumps on my skin.
Luuk was very smart, funny, handsome and perfect…
I was in love with him.
He had bought a Happy Meal for me. Luuk was the only one who, sometimes, bought those for me, my parents had the opinion of, what you don’t know you don’t aspire. They were right and it gave a Happy Meal a forbidden glory to me.
The toy which came with the Happy Meal was a dog, a Dalmatian, which shook its head and wagged its tail as you moved it across the table.
On the way back home, he had to refuel his car and he had also purchased the Disney book and a bag of licorice for me. The sweets were to be kept in my room, he knew my parents never gave me any candy.
When Luuk dropped me off at my home, he talked a bit with my mother and then he was gone again.
I missed him, already.
I put a piece of licorice in my mouth and slid the prince a little closer to the princess.
It was my sixteenth birthday and my whole family was there to celebrate it with me.
Sixteen years old and with all the incidentals such as pimples and a body and mind I could not cope with, uncertainty as the foundation for all other feelings. I looked sullenly at my cake, the hubbub of the people around me, as an uncomfortable canvas for my thoughts.
I had looked at my cousin, sitting opposite of me, a couple of times and his laugh was so beautiful.
I saw Luuk regularly. He was my cousin and he was twelve years older than me but that didn’t matter. He was my best friend, he was always good to me. He has been there for me for as long as I can remember.
To him, I was the little sister he never had, for me, he is the love of my life.
Later that day, we escaped the crowd and stood in the garden as I casually lit a cigarette, trying to give a mature, elegant and wise look to myself, took a pull and the smoke spiraled elegantly from my nose.
It took quite an effort not to splutter because, actually, this was my third cigarette, ever. But I wanted Luuk to see I was a grown up now, a real woman.
“What are you doing, Mel?”
I elegantly turn my head to him and talk articulate, mature and wise.
“Me? Uh…I’m smoking, duh!”
Before I could lavish myself on the recognition of me as an adult, I felt a soft blow to the back of my head, my cigarette fell to the ground and Luuk put it out with his foot and grinned.
I looked at him, I should have been angry, how dare him! My precious cigarette, it was the last one of the package Jen had given me and it would be at least a week before I would see her again. How could I be mature without them?
“You should not smoke, Mel.” He said with a soft voice.
I, the wise, determined, mature sixteen year old, looked at him.
“Why not?” I look at the ground, unsure of myself.
“Because you shouldn’t” he said strictly.
He pulled me close and together we looked over the fields which bordered the neighborhood where my parents had a house for four years. I melted myself against him and decided he had the best argument and decided to quit smoking.
It would be difficult, but for him I Ankara escort would pull through.
I would do anything for Luuk.
I was eighteen and sitting at the kitchen table, about to open a letter from Luuk. He had been living in New York for over a year and wrote me often. I missed him.
The last day he was in the Netherlands, he took me out for dinner as a real date, or at least, that was how it felt to me. A real date! I was on a pink cloud. I was euphoric, were it not for the dark blackness of his imminent departure on the canvas of reality, it gave me the feeling I was skinned alive, it hurt my body and soul.
The whole evening, I was coming up with reasons to keep him here or to join him. The plan most likely to succeed, that I could think of, was to tape myself to his leg with loads of duct tape but I realized we would never get through customs so the evening ended without any further brilliant ideas.
After dropping me off in front of my parents’ home, I waved goodbye to him, his car was getting smaller as it disappeared into the distance…Luuk was gone.
I fell asleep that night miserable and alone.
I opened the letter and took a sip of my tea. While the hot liquid made its path down my esophagus, my icy despair followed an opposing path. With every sentence I read, despair covered more of my soul and squeezed my throat.
“No…!” I gasped before I put down my cup of tea, ran to my room, threw myself onto my bed and buried my face in my pillow, sobbing.
My mother came into my room, she had the letter in her hands. I said nothing and stayed laying on my belly, my head buried in my pillow as I sobbed softly and felt her hand on my back.
“Oh sweetheart, I knew this would happen. You’ll get over him.”
It was a quarter past ten in the evening, local time, when I arrived in New York.
I claimed my suitcase, underwent the checks and loopholes before standing in the main hall, looking around me. My heart jumped when I saw Luuk! I could not restrain myself as I ran to him and hugged him. I could not let him go and hugged him again as I inhaled his intoxicating scent. He smiled and put me down to look at me from head to toe.
“You are growing up to be a very beautiful woman, Mel,” he said, smiling at me.
My face turned red as my heart roared in my ears like an avalanche, the same sound that had been blowing through my soul since I read his previous letter.
I was so happy I finally had Luuk close to me, with me, I saw him, I smelled him and I felt him…I had been longing for this for more than a year.
I was so unhappy, tomorrow he was going to marry, tomorrow my Luuk would be married to someone else. I had lost him for good, this was what I had been afraid of all my life.
“If anyone objects to the marriage of Jane and Luuk, this is your final opportunity.”
It was quiet in the hall. I wanted to jump up and shout out, Yeah! Yes, I object! He’s mine!
I wanted him, I wanted to throw myself at him, I wanted to claim him and I wanted him to claim me. I wanted to push Jane away from the isle, with her perfect body and perfect hair. I wanted to be there on the isle, claimed by Luuk and be his wife with all my imperfections.
I tried to think of a reason to stop the marriage, in full despair many scenario’s crossed my mind.
It was too late, I was too late.
Luuk was married.
I cried, passionately. Several attendees also cried, though my grief was born out of desperation and not from endearment as was probably the case for the other crying invitees.
I was sitting next to Luuk’s mother, my aunt, as she put her hand on my face and softly caressed my cheekbone.
“Oh, sweetheart, you’ll get over him.”
It was night, I was at the reception and I felt lonely. As I sipped some of my wine and looked around, my eyes fell on Jane…the bitch, the monster, the whore.
She was cute, a very beautiful girl, very sweet and funny and came across as a great and really nice human being.
I hated her.
I walked outside, away from the party, to hang out with a group of people who were smoking beside the entrance of the hotel.
It had been many years since I had quit smoking, it was a lot of trouble to quit my ingrained habit that, by then, was only three cigarettes old.
A middle-aged woman approached me and smiled, we had a brief chat and I learned she was Jane’s older sister. She offered me a cigarette and I took it. Small wisps of smoke rose from my nose as I thanked her and strolled a bit in the hotel’s garden. I looked at the sky, not many stars to gaze, too much light, but I could see Venus or was it Mars, I pondered?
Suddenly, I felt a soft tap on the back of my head, my cigarette fell from my mouth and as my eyes followed its journey to the ground, Luuk stepped on it, putting it out.
“You should not smoke, Mel,” he whispered and put his arm around my waist.
I felt his thigh against mine as I hesitated and sighed Ankara escort bayan as I melted against him. Together, we stared silently into the abyss of the universe, into the abyss of my despair.
I was twenty-three and had been living alone for two years and was looking around in my old room. A plastic toy Dalmatian, I got with a Happy Meal, caught my eye…I got it a million years ago after a perfect day with Luuk.
I thought back, warm feelings filled my soul, great memories, a perfect childhood, partly because him, my best friend.
After his wedding, I didn’t speak to Luuk again.
I returned to the Netherlands the day after the ceremony and cried for days. Slowly, I had made peace with the knowledge he would never be mine. The lack of contact with him lies with me, I stopped answering his letters…I had to protect myself.
After a year or so, Luuk also stopped writing.
My parents bought a smaller house to live in, my childhood home was sold and my childhood was finally closed.
I grabbed some stuff I wanted to keep, including the Dalmatian as I could not bring myself to get rid of it, and the rest was discarded in the garbage. I looked in all the drawers of my desk and found some pens that were still functional and always handy.
My eyes fell upon a bundle of letters, from Luuk, which were still all there. Not sure of myself, I tossed them into the pile of garbage, debris and remains of my sealed childhood, things that would never come back.
Sweating, I put the box of stuff to keep in my trunk and laughed at myself. ‘A few things?’ I thought…I still had, at least, twenty kilos of unsorted rubbish.
The garbage would be collected the next day so I walked upstairs with two garbage bags for the remaining stuff, soon my room would be empty. The house would be handed over at the beginning of the next month, final, irreversible.
My childhood fixated in the past, permanent and as solid as granite.
It was hot that day, sweating and puffing, as I filled the bags with my garbage and dragged them down to put them in the trash. Inside, I drank a cup of tea with my mom before leaving with my box of unsorted stuff for my apartment.
Panting, I put the box of junk in the hallway of my apartment, took my shoes off, gave my cat, Bat, something to eat and pet him as he meowed and meandered around my legs.
When I walked past the box again, my eyes fell on the Dalmatian so I took it out and sat with it, in my hands, on my couch. Pensive, I rolled the little wheels with my finger, the yellowed creature was still moving its head and tail.
I thought about Luuk, how I missed him, he was the hole in my soul, my missing part.
It was two o’clock in the morning and I was like a thief in the night, in the light of my headlights, and felt embarrassed as I stood before my parents’ house, upside down, rummaging in a garbage bag.
I finally felt what I was looking for and removed it from the bag. I tied the bag shut and drove to my apartment, with the bundle of letters in my lap.
I walked through my kitchen as the sun was breaking through the clouds, opened the garden doors and inhaled the scent of summer. As I waited at the sink until the water boiled, I looked at the bundle of letters on the kitchen table.
With my tea, I sat in front of the bundle of letters as if it was a guest sitting opposite of me and opened the knot, two loose ends fell far apart on the table after years of being intimately entangled.
I re-read every opened letter and cried softly as I thought of him and how much I missed him.
The last letter was still closed and I played with it between my fingers.
I carefully tore the envelope open and took the letter out as I glanced through the open doors and looked at the tree in front of my apartment. The leaves moved in a rhythm dictated by the wind, the sunlight reflected off of them like little mirrors.
It has been several weeks since I wrote you. Everything goes well with me, we now live in New Jersey and Jane is pregnant with our first.
I cannot wait to be a father, it is a girl and we’ll name her Melanie, after you. I miss you terribly and I really hope to hear from you soon. Please write me or call me.
A tear fell on the letter, year’s old ink dissolved in year’s old sorrow. The fall of my tear was a subtle break from absolute silence in my kitchen. I folded the letter and put it away.
I looked at the tree for a while as the leaves swayed hypnotically.
I was twenty-six and had been working at my job for a year. I worked for an advertising agency as a creative designer. I was leaving the next day, with a colleague, for a conference about my work field. My supervisor thought I deserved a break.
These conferences were small parties in my world, building networks, meeting people, having fun.
At four o’clock in the morning, we landed in Chicago and took Escort Ankara a taxi to our hotel. He and I checked in and went to our rooms. I laid on my bed and tried to sleep as I had to be at a conference in about eight hours.
I slowly drifted away into a shallow sleep to the sounds of the metropolis.
At twelve o’clock, my phone rang…it was my colleague saying we had about an hour. I quickly jumped into the shower and dressed in my prettiest long, black velvet dress for the conference.
I’m not very pretty but with the right accents and camouflage, I’m presentable, I guess.
This dress had fit me well but I had doubts about my hair and decided to go for a bun…severe, adult and serious.
The conference itself was horribly boring as I stood with my colleague by a group of people and we discussed new concepts of advertising…
New times, new temptations.
I was a little lost, not that I did not have a conversation, I just got quickly upset, felt uncomfortable, strange and lonely with strange people.
In the evening, we ate something with a few colleagues in a luxury restaurant. I was talking to a girl named Suzy, she was in her twenties. I estimated she was slightly older than me. It’s cozy, at least she was not talking about work all the time. We had fun together and decided to meet the next day to prowl the streets of Chicago.
Suzy called me at a quarter past nine. I woke up drowsy and immediately heard her twittering and sparkling voice. She was an American and I liked her, I knew her only a few hours but we clicked.
Laughing, we tried on the strangest hats and admired each other. Suzy was funny. Arm in arm we walked to a small café and I let Suzy order for me because she was, after all, a native there.
We sat at some sort of a bar at the window and looked out onto the street where people were crowded like a flock of birds playing in coordinated chaos, an endless film.
As I took a bite of my baked potato, my fork hovered briefly in my hand and then fell, clattering to the ground. I was breathless.
Suzy looked at me, half laughing “Is everything okay, Mel?”
I nodded and apologized, hurriedly put money beside my plate and said goodbye to a flabbergasted Suzy and I was outside in a flash. I ran through the masses of people, searching, I was sure it was him. I saw a glimpse of him as he got into a blue Audi and I waved at a taxi.
He stopped at an empty parking lot and I jump into the back seat.
“Follow that car!”
We were facing a big house. After a minute or less the driver turned toward me, he looked confused as I rediscovered myself, nodded, paid him and got out.
I was looking at a big house in the suburbs. I looked at the car, it was the car we followed. My head raced, what if it was not him? What if it was him? What would I say, what would I do, would I kiss him?
Doubts prevailed and I wanted to turn around and walk away… I had nothing to look for, nothing to gain except more grief.
I heard a door open and the chirping sound of a child enthusiastically twittering. I turned and looked from the other side of the road and saw Luuk, it was him and my heart pounded. A jumping girl, aged around six years old, her pigtails jumping up and down as she walked was holding the hand of her father and looked up at him as they walked away from me.
I watched from a distance as Luuk sat on a bench in a nice playground while his daughter was playing in a big climbing fort and he was laughing. Occasionally he waved at her and I saw the happiness radiating from the girl.
Luuk was a loving father, of course he was, he was always kind to me. Luuk is sweet.
I felt a tear roll and wiped it away as I looked at Luuk…he was still perfect, older, grayer, but perfect.
Driven more by emotion than reason I approached him. I stood behind him and looked at him as I heard his voice encouraging and admiring his little girl… his daughter was everything to him. The fathomless love I felt for him, and had ignored for years, had cut like a knife through my soul as I took a deep breath and sat down next to him.
“Hi” I whispered breathlessly.
Luuk looked next to him, at me. I saw his eyes, his face. The beautiful lines around his eyes deepened with his broad smile as he recognized me.
I nodded and looked at him, breathless. I trembled. I felt like a speck of dust, lost in the storm I had felt and heard in my head for so long.
“God, Mel, I thought I’d never see or speak to you again.” He said with a soft voice
He put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me close. I stiffened but felt his heat and smelled his scent and I melted against him. Gently I sobbed. He looked sideways at my face.
“What is it Mel?” he asked softly, as his hand stroked my cheek and I put my hand on his.
“I missed you, Luuk.” I whispered, crying silently
“I missed you too, Mel.” He said gently while looking at me. He caressed my cheek with his thumb and I enjoyed him, his touch and his presence. My soul was complete.
“Daddy, who is this lady?”
His little girl wobbled in on the balls of her feet and looked at me searchingly. Luuk lifted her onto his lap and kissed her on her cheek.
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