She is wearing a new dress. Dark blue, almost black. Smoothly hugging
her body. Washed her hair before going into the city. Spent a half
hour singing to old Madonna tunes. A cassette tape on the floor
of the car. From long before her first love. From before she had
bought this car. Found when she dropped her sunglasses. Hadn't,
because of her dark moods, worn those sunglasses in a long time.
Her old Volvo is the only thing to which she still attaches value.
Two major loves and a number of unimportant ones behind her. Her
car has seen all those men naked. Usually young, good-looking ones,
but also an older one and two ugly ones. Some more naked than others.
Some took off only their shoes. Today is the first day she had gotten
up without sadness. When she saw herself in the mirror, she decided:
I will not cry over him anymore. A light tote bag containing only
a roll of toilet paper, napkins, and panty liners, because she didn't
really need anything. She had everything at home. She wanted to
be seen. Not as a female in search, but like a busy woman, with
just an hour between lots of appointments to go to the supermarket,
she walks around. She swings the bag cheerfully, back and forth.
Feels the autumn sun on her bare shoulders. Her chin up. Her green
eyes happy. She knows there still isn't any reason to be happy,
but it will come, because today she finally feels like being radiant
again. A man on a racing bicycle, younger than she is, approaches.
He's going fast. She sees him from a distance because of his expressive
eyes. Eyes that feel the contours of her body through her new dress.
She looks back at him. His muscled arms, the brown legs with little
hair. Then back to his eyes. Hot eyes. As if these eyes, too, were
finally opening again after much crying. He slams on the brakes.
She keeps walking. A bit faster than before. Turns the corner. An
alley. Empty. She hears her own breath and her high heels on the
brick street. Behind her his bicycle. The gear shift. The back pedal.
A magical sound, that singing between two gears. He does not want
to move more quickly than she. She's not sure if he is still behind
her. Is it possible to bicycle so slowly with so little sound? She
walks more quickly. Hears her own sharp steps. Around another corner.
A busier street. And still another corner, to where her car is parked.
With plenty of time on the meter. She looks for her keys. Tosses
the light bag on the hood. The box of panty liners slides out, falls
on the bricks of the street. She bends down. Down. Bends down ever
so far. Her legs straight. Her ass fully in the direction she thinks
he's standing. Slowly she straightens. Looks up. He is standing
beside his bicycle straight across the street from her. That look.
That desire she has missed a whole summer. She sticks the key into
the lock of the car door. Sees, when she sneaks a peek, that he
is locking his racing bicycle with two locks to a pole. Starts the
car. Opens the passenger door. Her voice feels hoarse. So she says
nothing. He smells the way he should.
translated from the Dutch by Wanda Boeke