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Category Archives: Short stories/Korte verhalen

Einde Luidruchtige Huisgenoten/End of the Loud Roommates/End Compagni Rumorosi

Huisvergadering

‘Jongens, we móeten echt een huisvergadering houden’, sprak Karel. Al geruime tijd had hij last van de geluidsoverlast van Leon, de mooiboy in het huis. Leon liet zijn computer met muziek graag snoeihard aanstaan. Ook als hij niet thuis was. En in tegenstelling tot Jenna, Pien en Hannah, die hun deur ook weleens níet op slot deden als ze er niet waren, sloot Leon altijd af. Ook als hij nachtdienst had. Voor die arme Karel geen pretje, aangezien hij naast Leon’s kamer zat.
‘Ja, en we moeten Fanny zover krijgen dat ze dat klotekonijn van d’r alleen in d’r éigen kamer los laat lopen, want ik ben nu zaagsel en konijnenkeutels die van háár zijn aan het opruimen in míjn huisdienst!’ mopperde Bernard chagrijnig. Hij had al verschillende aanvaringen gehad met Fanny. Als die een boze blik op je wierp, voelde je je spontaan krimpen. Van watermeloen naar sesamzaadje. Fanny liet zich door niemand iets vertellen. Ondertussen was ook Jenna de keuken in komen lopen.
‘Kan dan ook het feit dat Oxana en haar vriendinnetje zo luidruchtig zijn, op de agenda?’ vroeg ze.
‘Prima, doen we die allemaal wel onder de noemer ‘geluidsoverlast’, besloot Theo, die al aan tafel zat met een lijst voor mogelijke vergaderonderwerpen.

Dat werd nog leuk, dacht Josephine.

Omdat zoiets als ‘een vergadering organiseren’ nogal wat voeten in de aarde had met vijftien huisgenoten, duurde het nog even voor de daadwerkelijke vergadering plaats zou vinden. De agenda was sneller gemaakt. Voor Jenna een lijdensweg tot het verlossende moment. Maar toen gebeurde er voortijdig wat.

Josephine liep Oxana’s vriendinnetje tegen het lijf. In de keuken. Josephine had geen idee hoe ze heette, maar haar gezicht was wel degelijk bekend.

‘Oh, hoi!’ groette ze haar, want een onaardig meisje was het niet.
‘Hey, hoe is het?’ vroeg de Vriendin vriendelijk, aan het klieren met ovenbroodjes, maar voornamelijk de verpakking. Dat krijg je in een slecht georganiseerde keuken. Daar liggen geen scharen in om die verpakking open te knippen. Josephine bood haar uiterst botte, maar verder effectieve zakmes aan.
‘Ah, dank je!’
‘Graag gedaan. Ben jij er ook toevallig, volgende week?’ vroeg ze vagelijk. Zelfs Josephine vroeg zich af waarom. Wat had Oxana’s vriendin met die huisvergadering, waar ze op doelde, te maken?
‘Ehh ja, dat zou kunnen, weet ik nog niet, hoezo?’
‘Nou, we hebben een huisvergadering volgende week’, zei Josephine afwezig, op zoek naar een schoon kopje.
‘Ah, doen jullie dat vaak?’
‘Nee, dat niet. Af en toe, als het nodig is. We hebben wat geluidsoverlast’, flapte Josephine er toen ineens uit, terwijl ze een kopje uit een afwasteil hengelde en het afspoelde.
‘Oh? Ik dacht dat de muren hier zo goed geïsoleerd waren?’ sprak de vriendin verbaasd. Ze had de broodjes inmiddels op het rooster van de oven gekregen, die omwikkeld was met alumininium folie wat zwart zag van alle andere zaken die daar al op verbrand waren.
‘Ja, de muren wel, maar via de ruimtes boven de deuren en het stopcontact komt er nog aardig wat door’, legde Josephine uit, spelend met het kopje.
Dit was niet waarom ze dit gesprek begonnen was. Ze wilde dit gesprek ook niet voeren. En toch was dat precies wat ze deed. Welkom, spontaniteit en flapuiterigheid. Shiiiiiiit!
‘Heeft iemand dan te hard staande muziek? Ik heb het nooit gehoord?’ merkte de vriendin verbaasd op, schoof de broodjes in de oven, nadat ze ze voorzichtig wat natter had gemaakt.
Yep. Ze moest het gaan zeggen. Dit was hét moment. Ze wilde het nog steeds niet. Dat dóe je niet. Niet bij de wildvreemde. Bij je eigen huisgenoot, MISSCHIEN, maar niet met degene die je het minst kent van de twee, wel?!
‘Nee, geen muziek….’ zei Josephine, licht grijnzend. De vragende blik terug nodigde téveel uit tot concreet antwoord.
‘De Daad’ , zei ze dus maar.
‘Oh?’ de vriendin keek Josephine even heel vragend aan, nieuwsgierig naar wie dat koppel dan wel was?
Josephine wilde het eigenlijk niet zeggen, maar de stilte die al was gevallen werd langer, en langer, en nog langer, en de grijns op haar mond sprak, zeker in combinatie met het langdurig aankijken van de Vriendin. Ineens lazerde het spreekwoordelijke kwartje als een baksteen naar beneden.
De Vriendin kreeg een kleur als vuur.
‘Oh! Daar hoeven jullie geen huisvergadering over te houden, hoor!’ sprak ze vlot, en maakte zich uit de voeten.

Sindsdien was het stil in de kamer van Oxana. Het vriendinnetje kwam langs, maar Jenna kon weer slapen.

 

‘Guys, we really need a house meeting!’ Charley said. He had been bothered by the noise Leon made for quite a while now. Leon, the pretty boy of the house, who always left his computer on while he was out, playing songs at incredibly loud levels. And unlike some others, Leon actually locked his door when he went out. As an intern in the hospital. Serving night shifts. Charley being his direct roommate, he had to endure quite a lot, poor sod.
Yes, and we need to convince Fanny to let that blasted rabbit of hers only hop around in her own room. At this rate I’m cleaning up after that little shite!’ Bernie said, frustrated. Nearly no-one could truly get on with Fanny, but Bernie and Fanny seemed an especially bad combo. As soon as Bernie opened his mouth, Fanny’s face went dark. That was the effect she had on most people, in honesty. Fanny gave the orders. If you had something against anything you said, you better take the floor well prepared, since Fanny was up for it.
‘Alright, so can Oxana and her friend be added to the list too, then?’ Jenna, who had just stepped into the kitchen and had quite understood what the subject was all about.
‘Sure, I think I’ll just put it on the list as ‘Too Loud Noises’ or something’, Theo said, seated at the kitchen table, as he was making an agenda for the meeting.

‘Well, this is gonna be fun’, Josephine thought to herself.

Because they had no less than fifteen roommates, the meeting couldn’t be held immediately. It would take at least another week and a half before it was actually scheduled. So Jenna had to endure quite a bit more. Still, it wouldn’t take until the meeting, because something occurred.

Josephine ran into Oxana’s lover.
Josephine had no idea what her name was, but her face was, by now, quite familiair. 

‘Oh, hi!’ Josephine greeted the girl cheery, as the girl wasn’t a nasty one.
Hey, how are you?’ responded the Girlfriend, occupied opening a package of oven rolls that wouldn’t open, as the kitchen wasn’t fully equipped and therefore missed out on things like scissors. Josephine offered her blunt pocket knife, which was received gratefully.
‘Ah, thanks!’
‘You’re welcome. Are you here, by any chance, next week?’ Josephine suddenly asked. She had no idea why. Why would this girl have anything to do with their house meeting?
“Errr I’m not sure yet, why?’
‘Well, we’re having a house meeting’, Josephine answered, in search of a clean cup. A hard find in this kitchen.
‘Ah, you do that often?’
‘Not really, just when it’s necessary, I suppose. We’re having trouble with noise disturbance’, she suddenly said, when she’d found a cup.
“Oh? I thought the walls were so well isolated here?’ the girlfriend said, surprised, having spread the rolls on a tray with the dirtiest tin foil ever, after sprinkling them with a bit of water.
‘Yes, it’s quite well isolated, but through the compartments above the doors and through the electrical sockets, sounds still come through’ Josephine explained. She actually didn’t want to say it. She hadn’t planned on doing that. And yet, there she was. Having this conversation. Welcome to spontanity and not being able to keep your mouth shut. Shiiiiiiiiit!
‘Is anybody playing loud music? I’ve never heard it?’ the girlfriend mentioned, surprised. She was about to shove the bread rolls in the oven. Yup. This was the moment Josephine wasn’t waiting for. She had to tell. She didn’t want to. I mean, aren’t you supposed to mention this kind of stuff to the one you actually live with? In other words, Oxana herself?
‘No, it’s not music that’s bothering’, Josephine grinned. Because that’s what the subject itself did to her. It made her an instant prude. Josephine didn’t like to talk about sex to someone she didn’t know. But the questionmark hanging so obviously above the girlfriend’s head, did require an answer.
‘The Deed’, answered Josephine, in lack of a better word.
‘Oh?’ the girlfriend was all ears now, kept staring at Josephine, in hopes of getting to know who was that noisy couple. There was no way back. No way at all. Josephine was still looking for words, when she suddenly realised that the silence she’d dropped, had taken too long. She HAD to say something, right? She looked with an uneasy smile at the curious girlfriend, and suddenly noticed the quarter dropped down like a brick from the Berlin wall after a sledge hammer got to it.
The girlfriend’s face was suddenly on fire.
‘Oh! You don’t need to have a meeting about that!’ and off she went, out of the kitchen.

Ever since, it went quiet in Oxana’s room. And thankfully, Jenna could go back to sleep again.

 

RIUNIONE DI CASA

‘Gente, dobbiamo bisogno davvero un riunione di casa!’ ha detto Carlo. Ne era stato infastidito per qualche tempo a Léon, la casanova della casa. Léon amava la sua musica molto rumorosa, anche quando non era neppure nella casa. E diversamente da Hannah, Pina e Gina, Léon sempre chiuso la sua camera con chiave. Anche se avesse il turno di notte. Povero Carlo, che viveva accanto a Léon.
‘Sì, e qualcuno per favore dire a Fanny che lei lasciare il suo coniglio solo da sola nella stessa camera. Ora io lavo escrementi di questo cazzo coniglio e l’animale non è mio!’ Bernardo gridò frustato. Lui ha avuti collisioni diversi con Fanny, perché lei non ascoltava nessuno. Uno sguardo da lei e si ritrasse. Dall’anguria al seme di sesamo. A questo momento, anche Gina entrata la cucina comune, e ha ascoltava il sogetto.
‘Per favore, anche aggiunge il sesso tra Oxana e la sua fidanzata!’ lei chiamava.
‘Accordo’, Theo ha detto, l’ha scritto sul foglio di carta, ‘semplice scrivo “rumorosa”, OK?’
Era accordo.

‘Sarà divertente’ Giuseppina ha pensata sarcastico.

Com’è normale in una casa di 15 residenti, al meno una settimana passata prima era un occasione di avere un riunione di casa. E qualcosa diversa succede.

Giuseppina ha incontrata la fidanzata di Oxana, nella cucina comune. Giuseppina non ha avuta una idea quale era il suo nome, ma la sua faccia, sì, lei ha vista.

‘Oh, ciao!’ ha dice alla Fidanzata, perché non era una ragazza male.
‘Ciao, come stai?’ la Fidanzata chiesta, stava scompigliando con un paio di pane per il forno. Difficile senza un coltello adeguato. Nella questa cucina in particolare prevalse l’anarchia. Il che significava: niente forbici. Giuseppina offerta il suo coltellino svizzero smussato.
‘Ah, grazie!’ la Fidanzata rispose.
‘Sei qui la prossima settimana?’ Giuseppina chiesta. Non sapeva nemmeno perché. Era un riunione di casa, questa Fidanzata non era la sua coinquilina. Perché era importante che la Fidanzata era qua o no?
‘Ehhhh non lo so ancora, perche?’
‘Ci abbiamo un riunione di rumorosi nella casa’, Giuseppina spiegava, alla ricerca di una tazza. Un ritrovamento in questa cucina.
‘Ah? Si fa spesso, incontri?’ lei chiesta.
‘No, non veramente. Quando è necessario. Ci sono alcuni chi soffrono di disturbo acustico’, ha detto all’improvviso. Lei finalmente ha trovava una tazza.
‘Oh? Pensavo che le pareti fossero così ben isolate qui?’ la Fidanzata rispose sorpreso, aveva steso i rotoli sul foglio di alluminio più sporco di sempre.
‘Sì, le pareti e tetti sono, ma non le prese elettriche oppure i vani portaoggetti sopra le porte’, Giuseppina spiegò. Effettivamente non voleva dire. Lei non ha avuta un piano per fare questo. Eppure quello stava per accadere. Avendo questa conversazione. Lei. Perché lei era così spontanea, grazie! Cazzzooooooooo!
‘È qualcuno che suona musica ad alto volume? Non ho mai sentito?’ la Fidanzata era sorpresa.  Stava per mettere i panini nel forno. Sì. Il momento era lì. Giuseppina sapeva. Il momento lei non voleva essere da parte. Giuseppina sentiva che doveva dirlo. Ma questa era la Fidanzata, non la sua compagna di stanza! Lei davvero non voleva dire. Però la sua faccia era un grosso punto interrogativo.
‘L’Atto’, Giuseppina rispose, a causa di un improvviso attacco di prudenza.
‘Oh?’ il punto interrogativo diventata più grande, non meno. Lei davvero voleva sappere chi erano la coppia così rumorosa? Capì che non c’era modo di tornare indietro. Era il proprio momento. Giuseppina lei non aveva ancora detto nulla, quando si rese conto che il silenzio aveva impiegato troppo tempo. Giuseppina sorrise, guardò alla Fidanzata negli occhi, pronta per dire, alla ricerca di parole, quando il penny è caduto con la Fidanzata. Come un mattone.
La faccia di Fidanzata divenne rossa come il fuoco.
‘Oh, Dio! Non è necessario per avere un riunione di questo!’ lei rispose, e quasi corsa fuori dalla cucina.

Dopo, era sempre tranquilla nella stanza di Oxana, e Gina riuscì a dormire di nuovo…

(dit is onderdeel van de bundel ‘Het Studentenhuis’)è corsa fuori dalla cucina

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Luidruchtige Huisgenoten

Luidruchtige Huisgenoten

Op een avond zaten ze met een aantal in de gemeenschappelijke huiskamer Friends te kijken.
Leuk en gezellig hingen ze op elkaar op de bank. Toen kwam Jenna hoogst vermoeid en in haar nachthemd binnen stappen.
‘Hallooooo’ groette die, wat teneergeslagen.
‘Wat is er met jou aan de hand?’ vroeg Theo verbaasd, zijn hoofd gedeeltelijk op de buik van Irene, zijn benen tegen het afbladderende behang.
‘Ik kan niet slapen’, klaagde Jenna.
‘Moet ik een liedje voor je zingen?’ opperde Josephine. Hannah grinnikte.
‘Haha, zou dat helpen dan? Kun jij zingen?’ Jenna was naar de waterkoker gelopen, vulde die met water.
‘Ik kan zingen, jazeker, maar het komt wel wisselend m’n keel uit hoor’, verzekerde Josephine aan Hannah.
‘D’r liggen d’r twee nogal wat geluid te produceren’, zei Jenna toen mokkend tegen de waterkoker.
‘He?’ ze keken haar wat niet-begrijpend aan vanaf hun bank-hang-gelegenheid.
‘Onze Russische huisgenoot Oxana heeft een vriendje’, lichtte Jenna toen toe.
‘Is het zo erg?’ vroeg Theo verbaasd.
‘Ik heb de afgelopen week meer Russisch geleerd dan ik ooit zal kunnen gebruiken’, zuchtte Jenna vermoeid, haar hoofd heen en weer halend, om de spieren wat losser te maken.
‘Hier, kom even zitten’, bood Josephine aan. Jenna maakte dankbaar gebruik van dit aanbod, nestelde zich tussen de leuning en Josephines rechterdij.
‘Wat voor Russisch dan?’ Irene, benieuwd.
‘Ik denk niet dat het het soort is wat je kunt gebruiken in een conversatie bij de thee. Gok ik zo, tenminste?’ merkte Josephine subtiel op.
‘Zijn ze nu bezig?’ vroeg Irene.
‘Uh-huh’, knikte Jenna. Irene stond op, liep richting deur, Theo daarmee berovend van zijn lekkere hoofdsteuntje.
‘Doe normaal!’ riep Theo gekscherend naar Irene, maar ze was al weg, de deur uit. Theo sprong er achteraan. Hij lag toch al niet lekker meer. Toen volgde Karel. En Leon.
‘Nou ja zeg, jongens!’ schaterde Josephine. Ze stond eveneens op.
‘Nou zeg, ga jij nou ook kijken??’ vroeg Jenna verbolgen aan Josephine, toen die de deur van de huiskamer opentrok. Jenna voelde zich duidelijk verraden. Of haar gebrek aan nachtrust er niet toe deed.
‘Nee, echt niet’, antwoordde ze, op een toon die geruststellend moest klinken, terwijl ze de andere deur, naar de voordeur, ook opentrok en om de hoek daarvan keek.
Er stond nu een troepje huisgenoten voor de deur van Oxana. Josephine wilde wel brullen ‘ga weg daar, eikels!’ maar realiseerde dat Oxana en haar vriend dat dan mogelijk zouden horen. Dat leek nog gênanter dan wat nu het geval was. Als het geluid ophield (want ook dát hoorde Josephine), zouden ze zich echt wel uit de voeten maken.
‘Jemig, het zijn ook net kleuters’, sprak Josephine hoofdschuddend toen ze haar hoofd weer van de gang haalde.
‘Al wat we nu nog nodig hebben is een schoolkrant’, giechelde Hannah.
‘Goed idee, als jij ‘m dan vult met de rest, hebben we bij deze de roddelrubriek al klaar’, vulde Josephine aan. De bank was zo goed als leeg. De Muppet Show was leeggelopen bij de belofte aan een live voorstelling.
‘Hee, waar is Jenna?’
‘Ik ben hier!’ riep die van om de hoek in de keuken.
‘Ik schenk mezelf thee in. Daarna ga ik opnieuw proberen te slapen. Als dat dan tenminste mogelijk is’.
Ze gingen met z’n drieën op de bank zitten en wachtten tot de jongens en Irene weer van de gang kwamen.
‘Mijn hemel zeg, wat een geluid produceren die twee!’ Theo was duidelijk onder de indruk.
‘Terwijl de deuren toch zo goed isoleren?’ Irene, hoogst verbaasd over het falen van techniek.
‘Het kan ook van die bergruimtes boven de deur komen he’, vulde Jenna aan.
‘Daar heb ik van alles liggen’ zei Josephine
‘Ik niet’, verzuchtte Jenna.
‘Ik heb niet genoeg kasten, dus wat daar niet in past, prop ik in dat luik’, wijdde Josephine uit.
‘Alles past in mijn kast’, gromde Jenna.
‘Zal ik wat zooi van mij in jouw ruimte mikken dan?’ bood Josephine aan.
‘Zeg zeg, nog even en ik word weer opgewonden!’ zei Theo grinnikend.
‘Alsjeblieft zeg, hou op! Jullie zijn weer terug. Dan zijn ze klaar, toch? Dan kan ik terug. Eindelijk lekker slapen’ Jenna was chagrijnig, maar dan kon je haar niet kwalijk meer nemen.
‘Joe, slaap lekker’.
‘Weltrusten’
En dat was dat. Voor die avond.

(dit hoofdstuk is onderdeel van de bundel ‘Het Studentenhuis’  van M. Lanen-de Vries)

 

Knock, Ireland

To say I ended up here by accident is weird. You don’t end up in a city or small town such as Knock by accident, right? People don’t end up at a pilgrimage that way. You were supposed to go there. Or the sweet Lord himself has guided you there.
To be fair I would have thought the same if it had happened to anyone else. Not just because I’m an atheist, though that has a strong correlation to the why I don’t believe that, but still. The ‘ended up there by accident’ in this scenario is simply because I was guided through the loveliness that Ireland has to offer by my two aunties.
Both lovely, but severe nutcases. Each in their own right and each with their own set of charming characteristics. I’m named after one of them, so how bad can they be, eh?

So how did we end up there, then??
I’ll tell you. First one thing you have to know: both my aunties are incredibly sweet and funny, and incredibly stubborn. The one who was doing most of the driving, hates maps. Even satnav. She refuses to use any of those. It’s not that she can’t read a map, but during driving, she likes the whole experience, thank you very much! She literally drives the car the way vikings and skippers sail(ed) their boats: by looking into the sky. She looks at where the sun is and she keeps in mind where she wants to see it at the end of the day, that’s the direction she will drive in. This could be by highway, but she takes D-tours just as easily. She is the kind of person to like the tour just as much as a the destination. Yes, really.

My other aunt will give away how we ended up in Knock: she collects holy water trays. You know the ones you keep on your wall, for instance, to make a quick pray? Yes, we are an atheist family in general. Don’t give me that funny look, I’m not the one collecting them.
They are a hard find. This is one of the things collectors of anything get a kick out, yes I know. To find a trinket of your collection when abroad is the big thing there too. But her collection is really quite specific, so as soon as we saw signs for a carboot sale, she would go: ‘oh, let’s check it out, they might have some!’ and most of the time, she was right about that, too. She had collected a few during our roadtrip. Given that we were travelling with a camping van, there was quite enough room for her collection to grow. Then, one morning, without any specific plans -except for ending up in a place I do no longer recall the name of, we drove there.

We were driving through, what we didn’t know was the main road in Knock. Whilst the aunt driving was watching for directions to go (she doesn’t use maps, she does use roadsigns), the other, collecting aunt, goes:
‘Hey, this place has holy water trays!’ and after that (as the car/van was riding at the time):
‘This place too!’ and so on. And so on. And so on.
So, we parked the van, auntie tried to remember exactly where she saw the trays, then noticed:
‘Oh wow, every store here has those trays?!’ it was like hitting the Holy Water Tray Jackpot for her. She went nuts in one store after another (from having to search for any, she now suddenly had to pick, as buying all of them would’ve left her penniless) and then there was the chapel and the whole story of Knock.
Because of course, as true idiots, we had entered the city backwards (typical), so the explanation came last.
While being in awe of all that we had just discovered, the square where one can actually fill up anything that might contain fluids with Holy Water showed itself to us. I was reminded of the many holidays I’d had as a small child on campingsides in France instantly. Because yeah, basically that’s what they looked like. With far smaller taps, as the stores all sold bottles in a massive range of varieties of shapes. Mother Theresa, Mary, Jesus, Joseph, anyone who looked holy enough. With a small blue cap. All to fill up these beauties of Holy Water Trays that my auntie collects. We saw cars stopping by, opening their trunks and getting coffeecans and teapots out to put under those taps, causing a traffic jam. It was truly bizarre. Well, for me.

It was a magnificent find.

Later, I visited the place with my (then) fiancé. We then actually went to the museum to see what had happened, to learn about the story of Knock. It’s a lot more convincing than anything I could put here. So knock yourselves out and go visit Knock. Even if you’re not religious, it is a friendly and not so crowded pilgrimage to take.

 

Se dico: ‘finito qui per caso’ è strano, no? Non si finisce per caso in una città o in una piccola città come Knock. La gente non appaiono in un pellegrinaggio in quel modo. Si doveva essere lì. Il buon Dio stesso ti ha portato lì.
Per essere onesti avrei pensato la stessa cosa, se fosse successo a qualcun altro.

 

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What about Eve?

‘Where the hell is Eve?!’ Burt shouted, after stumbling downstairs, still sleepdrunk.
He had heard an unusual noise from the backyard. Which had made him decide to walk towards the sound. Which had now resulted in him seeing what it was that made that sound.
It was one of those moments, that simply only ever happened when Eve was to be found somewhere.
Why on earth he would request for her presence was beyond knowledge though, as it wouldn’t help a thing. It wouldn’t help anything, except it being slightly more logical that there appeared to be a cow lying in the backyard, just in front of the sandbox Burt had put there only days ago, to please his son Sammy, who was nearly two years of age.

‘Eve, I think…’Mary-Ann, his wife, wanted to fill Burt in, who was raging with fury by now. She had followed him as she had figured it was time to get up anyway.
His neck had a nice red color. Though Mary-Ann wasn’t nearly as happy with Burt’s rage, she had to admit she liked the particular color that had formed in Burts’ neck.

If it had been a shade in a fabric, she’d most definitely want to wear it.

‘I don’t care!’ Burt shouted. Mary-Ann could have known that. The question of the whereabouts of her daughter, were rhetorical, merely a byproduct of what was important now: how to get rid of this particular cow?
‘It’s just that in moments like this, she feels even less like my daughter’, Burt explained, though it was quite hurtfull.
‘Oh you bastard!’ Mary-Ann cried. That was to be expected. Don’t ever insult a woman’s kid. If you touch her kid, you touch her. Wrong, period.
‘Go take a hike with your ‘she’s not my daughter’!’ she said, “I am going to put the kettle on”.
Now there was a good idea, even Burt thought.
The cow wouldn’t just disappear. It made a rather awful noise, yes, but nothing they could do about it or that, right now.
‘Where’s Thomas and Sammy?’ Burt asked surprisedly, when they sat down to actually drink their tea. He could barely hear himself think with all that mooing. It was like being interrupted by his toddler.
‘I suppose they are still asleep’, Mary-Ann replied, like nothing was different at all just now.
‘How can they be asleep when there’s a massive cow mooing all the way through the neighbourhood?!’ Burt replied, almost disgusted.
Mary-Ann noted a hint of envy.
‘Dearest, just because you awoke from that noise and woke me up, doesn’t change the fact one can shoot a cannonball next to their beds when they’re asleep. You know very well your lovely sons don’t wake up unless it’s time to play’.
Burt just looked stunned. A bit jealous, even. That his boys could sleep and not him.
‘I think we should phone the vet’, Mary-Ann said, as she took the cordless and started dialing for information. It took Burt about five minutes to reply, as he was gazing outside the glass backdoor that seperated them from the stoned backyard, which had the moaning cow in it. Neighbours were starting to become curious and gather at the gates of the garden.
Burt tried smiling to them, until he realized they were laughing at him, rather than being polite.

They knew, too, it was Eve’s presence.

He decided not to go out, as he heard Mary-Ann talking to the vet.
‘Ah yes, good idea’, she finally said.
‘…you could be here within the hour? Oh, that would be great!’ she said. Burt just took a sip from his tea. Staring at the cow, and Mrs Johnson, who just climbed over the fence as to comfort the cow.
‘Haha, species finding species’, Burt laughed sarcastically.
He thought he was allowed a rather offensive joke as the neighbours were so clearly making fun of him and his misery.
‘Come, now we go outside’, Mary-Ann said to Burt. He hadn’t even noticed she’d ended the phonecall.
‘Why, it’s there?’ Burt said, wondering why they should have to go outside while it was very obvious the cow wouldn’t move one bit.
‘Yes, but the vet says we have to keep the cow warm’, Mary-Ann said, picking up a woolen blanket from the couch.
Thomas and Sammy usually played with it and as such, it was never clean. It seemed perfect for this occasion.
‘Well, join Mrs Johnson, who seems to be singing lullaby after lullaby for that cow’, Burt said. He wasn’t lying. Mrs Johnson had a voice like a volcano, and unfortunately not a very pleasant one. Quite offkey. Mary-Ann politely joined Mrs Johnson’s presence, holding the blanket. At that point she noticed how windy it was, outside. It had to be, ofcourse. How else would a cow end up in a backyard that wasn’t even close to any farm where there were cows to be found in the first place?

‘What’s happening?’ Burt heard Thomas coming down the stairs. This made Burt slightly agitaded again.
‘What woke you up?’ he asked, highly sarcastically surprised.
‘Well, Mrs Johsons’ singing’, Thomas said, like that was obvious. He walked passed his stunned father, in his red pyjama with helicopters on it.
‘There’s a cow in our garden!’ Thomas exclaimed on a tone as if they’d just won the lottery.
‘Why is there a cow in our garden? Can we keep it? Can we call it MooMoo?’ he asked Burt. It always amazed Burt how quickly Thomas could get to the point of asking something.
‘Well, that’s a good couple of questions’, Burt said. He had no idea what to tell his son. He just took a sip of his tea, wishing it were whiskey or something else involving a lot of alcohol. That way it should be so much easier to forget about all of this.
‘Sammy!’ Thomas yelled, ‘Sammy, come! There’s a cow in our backyard! Mommy has gone out to sing with Mrs Johnson’, he was very exited to tell his little brother this news. Sammy, all of 2 years old and a bit territorial-driven, only said:
‘Not in my sandbox! Not with my new shovel!’. Then Sammy tilted his head up.
‘Can I have a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich?’ he asked politely.
Burt was quite surprised over the request of his 2-year-old, but he gave into it anyway. It was easier to distract himself with something as silly as a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich than anything else at the moment. Thomas wanted to run outside in his PJ’s.
‘No way, Thomas, at least put on a robe, or a coat, and your feet are bare’, Burt said. That was the moment Mary-Ann stepped inside again.
‘Mrs Johnson woke me up with her singing’, Thomas whined.
‘Dearest, there is a cow in the backyard crying, and you woke up by the sound of Mrs Johnson??’ she sounded surprised.
‘Yes, you have weird children’, Burt said, making a peanutbutter-jelly sandwich for his youngest.
‘What are you doing?’ Mary-Ann asked, ‘It’s not a Sunday, you’re not supposed to have a peanutbutter-jelly sandwich now!’ Burt rolled his eyes.
‘There’s a cow in our backyard, which has been moaning all night, there’s a woman singing lullaby’s for it, which woke up our lovely boys, who weren’t woken up by the sounds of that massive cow landing up in our backyard, and you are fuzzing about the fact that it’s not Sunday enough to make a bloody peanutbutter-jelly sandwich?!’
Sammy had found his way to the cupboard and just managed to get the jelly jar out there. The jar was too big and way to slippery. It fell on the kitchenfloor and broke. Sammy started crying as he saw Burt’s face, which was bright red as he was still annoyed with the nonlogic of this morning. The same red Mary-Ann also liked so much on the wall in the diningroom. Though it might be a bit agressive there.
‘I want peanutbutter-jelly!’ Sammy cried.
‘Come here love’, Mary-Ann said, taking their toddler in her arms. Sammy came to cuddle, and at that moment, Eve stepped downstairs.
‘Eeeeeeeeve!’ Thomas screamed while running happily into her arms.
‘I knew you were here!’ Thomas said, cuddling her.
‘Oh? Why? What happened?’ she asked surprised, looking at her mother and stepdad.
‘Don’t tell me you didn’t hear…’
‘Moooooo!’
‘…that!’ her mother finished her sentence.
‘Oh, THAT! I had my music on all night, with my noise cancelling headphones. A plane could come fly by and I wouldn’t hear a thing! But errrm…yeah, well…that’s….ooooh is that tea??’ she walked into the kitchen, as if the kettle had some sort of huge magnet in it, but genuinely distracted.
‘When did you come home?’ Mary-Ann asked her eldest.
‘Not too long ago, actually’, she admitted.
‘About an hour or two, three ago, by any chance?’ Burt asked.
‘Dude, what’s with the sarcasm? Don’t think I don’t hear it!’ Eve said, slightly offended. Then she looked at the clock.
‘Well, I think…’, she watched her clock, ‘well, yeah. That might be right?’
‘Right’, Burt said, looking at Mary-Ann with a stern face.

‘What did you do?’ Eve asked, when Burt had passed them to go shower.
‘Oh nothing, I produced you, is all. Go and have breakfast dear, all will be well, soon’

And so the day started.

 

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Autist op een begrafenis / Autistic attending a funeral

We zaten in de kamer met z’n allen. Te rouwen. Daar zijn begrafenissen voor. Lekker uitgebreid janken. Dat kan enorm opluchten. Toen kwam Tanja binnen. Ik zette me alvast schrap.
Tanja is autistisch.

‘Kijk eens, tante Carla en oom Theo, ik heb een nieuwe trui gekocht!’ zei Tanja, met iets te luide en bovendien uitgelaten stem. Het viel me nog mee.

‘Eh ja, prachtig, schat’, stotterde tante Carla wat beduusd. Wat moest ze hier nu weer mee?

‘Ik heb ‘m in de vlaggetjesweken van de C&A gekocht’, denderde Tanja voort met kinderlijke stem. Haar niet aankijken had geen zin. Ze tetterde door over hoe de verkoopster haar had rondgeleid door de winkel en had geholpen met uitzoeken.

‘Nou, wat fijn’, deed tante Carla toch een brave poging, tussen een paar slokken koffie door, om te beantwoorden aan Tanja’s behoefte aan goedkeuring.
Fysiek gezien was Tanja dan dik in de dertig, haar brein was dat beslist niet. Niet altijd. Ze klonk nu meer als een 8-jarige, als ik het zelf moest typeren. Eentje die zich een houding probeerde te geven. Geen idee had hoe dat moet.

Ondertussen had Harry zich een weg van het koffiezetapparaat in de keuken naar de voorkamer gewurmd.

‘Och god, is Tanja ook weer lekker bezig?’ vroeg deze geamuseerd.

‘Ja, eigenlijk zouden we haar even af moeten leiden’, zei ik.

‘Dan zitten we wel meteen aan haar vast, dat weet je’, bracht hij in. Daar had hij gelijk in. Op dit moment was niemand daar happig op. Ook ik niet in die zin, want ik was net zo hard in de rouw.

Tanja was zenuwachtig, dat kon je haar ook niet kwalijk nemen. De spanning in de woonkamer was te snijden.. Men wilde de stilte bewaren, dat Tanja haar mond zou houden.
Een autist voelt dergelijke spanning niet. Dendert daar overheen. Voor haar was de trui, gekocht met korting, verkregen door geplakte vlaggetjes, met behulp van een soort personal shopper kennelijk erg belangrijk. Ze zag er netjes uit, dat moet gezegd. Zo zou haar stiefmoeder, de reden dat we hier stonden te rouwen, het graag gezien hebben. Die had zich overigens sowieso kapot gelachen om haar manier van doen. Haar stiefmoeder had het erg op koopjes. Ze zou zo trots als een aap zijn geweest.

Later, na de begrafenis op het kerkhof, vroeg Tanja haar vader ineens:
‘Wat moet ik eigenlijk doen?’ verlegen om praktische informatie. Ze wilde doen wat hoorde, maar had geen idee wat dat was.
‘Het is gebruikelijk om iemand een hand of een knuffel te geven, en gecondoleerd te zeggen’, legde haar vader heel praktisch uit. Tanja was helemaal niet van de fysieke affectie. Het verbaasde ons, haar vader inclusief, dan ook zeer, toen Tanja inderdaad ineens een knuffel gaf en ‘gecondoleerd’ mompelde.
Haar vader barstte in huilen uit.
De zon scheen op het ijswitte landschap in de molenstreek.

We were in the room altogether. Mourning. That’s what funerals are for, after all. Then Tania entered the room. I braced myself.

‘Look, auntie Carla and uncle Theo, I’ve bought a new sweater!’Tania says with too loud and far to elated voice. Though it could be worse, I have to admit. 

‘Err yes dear, very nice’, murmered aunt Carla a bit dazed. How was she supposed to deal with this?

‘I’ve bought it in the discount week with all these stickers!’ Tanja went on, like a train with no mercy, with a childlike voice. Not looking at her had no use. She raved on about how the saleswoman had toured her through the store, helped her pick the best clothes for the occasion. 

‘Well, that’s so nice dear’, Carla does a brave try for satisfying the obvious needs of Tanja to have some kind of approval for her actions, between a few sips of coffee.
Physically speaking Tanja may be deep into her thirties, socially & emotionally she’s more like a twelve year old, which varies through the year. At this moment, I’d say she was about eight in that department. An eight year old trying to find a comfortable spot, both physically and mentally. And having no clue how to do that. 

Meanwhile Harry had worked his way from the kitchen to the livingroom. 

‘Oh god, is Tanja at it again?’ he asked, amused. 

‘I think we should try to distract her at some point’, I said.

‘Then we’re stuck with her, as you know full well’, he reminded me. Point taken. Nobody felt like that, nor me. I was mourning, like the rest of them. 

Tanja was nervous, something you could hardly blame her for. You could cut the tention in the room with a knife. People wanted it to be quiet, silent, for Tanja to keep her mouth shut.
An autistic person doesn’t feel this kind of tention. Just goes on and on. To her the sweater, purchased with a discount, gained with stickers on a piece of paper, with the help of some sort of personal shopper, very important. Apparently. She was looking quite smart, I gotta say. HEr stepmother, the one who had died, would have loved it. She would have laughed about Tanja’s way of drawing attention to herself. She would have been so proud. 

A bit later, at the graveyard, Tanja suddenly asked her dad:
What should I do exactly?’ shy for practical information. She wanted to do what was right, without knowing what that was exactly.
‘Usually people shake hands or hug and say “my condoleances”‘, her father replied in a likewise practical mode. Tanja had never been much of a girl/woman for physical contact. So we were so surprised, her father included, when she suddenly DID hug her father and said “my condoleances”.
Her father bursted into tears.
The sun shone on the ice landscape in the windmill district. 

 
 

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