• Grietje Y. M. François

She side

flash fiction

Photo by Mickael Gresset on Unsplash

Except for our coats, we still have our clothes on. We’re both lying on our side with our knees bent. He’s on his left side, I’m on my right side. Our feet touch the edge of his bed ever so slightly. From above, we probably look like twins with opposite hair colours; he's blonde, I have black hair. We stare at each other with a tender, curious look. Curious, because we don’t know each other very well. We have some interests in common of which we both remember very well they have originated somewhere during our childhood.

His soft features and sky-blue eyes made me melt when we first met. He’s not bad, I thought at the time, this boy with his Biblical name. Now I’m lying here, next to him in his bedroom, looking right back into those beautiful blue eyes. The silence around us is all-embracing. Even though his flat is situated alongside a busy road, I can’t hear any traffic. It’s late in the evening already, around dusk. So it’s time to fill the evening with activities like cooking a lovely dinner or going to a neighbourhood café. In this beautiful spring weather, the best seats outside are quickly taken. But we don’t do any of it. We’re lying here and that’s fine.

We met each other for the first time about eight years ago. We were going to start a project with some like-minded people. Motivation to engage in something meaningful brought us together at a table in a rustic café. It was the kind of place where you love ordering a sandwich with cheese and mustard.

There were seven of us and everyone knew someone in the group. We all agreed our little project was useful, and we were prepared to devote ourselves to it with heart and soul. It didn’t really matter if we would be able to take it far or not. Our enthusiasm for this common goal was the only thing that mattered. When you get older, that kind of devotion becomes very rare. You mostly only join in with an ulterior motive. But it was different back then. We were young, it was pure and kind of exciting.

I noticed him immediately. When I first meet someone, I usually shake their hand and when I say goodbye for the first time, I might give a brief cheek-to-cheek hug. I wasn’t even thinking about saying goodbye. I would observe him first, as discreetly as possible, which is best done from the other side of the table.

A mutual girl friend introduced us. They had gone to the conservatory together. It turned out that they lived close to each other at the time. They got on well and kept in touch even after graduating from the conservatory. It was her actually who had the idea for the project, something to do with music.

It’s hard to imagine all this happened about eight years ago. Time flies. The band we formed then only managed to get a few gigs at parochial centres. We never went further than the small provincial towns we grew up in. Our concept wasn’t innovative enough. When we realised this, the first person dropped out. He’d found a job and couldn’t combine the two anymore. Shortly after, someone else left. He had a boyfriend and wanted to focus all his attention on their relationship. We kept going for almost four months, just the five of us. We grew tired towards the end. Our energy was gone and our motivation was at an all-time low. The girl who came up with the idea eventually pulled the plug. The opportunity to study abroad probably had something to do with it.

So here we are. I don’t care how much time has passed, because I’m comfortable here and he obviously is too. I can hardly suppress a smile. That’s what happens when you look at each other so intensely. Do I notice a certain lust in those beautiful eyes? I look away and turn my head to the window. Twilight is setting in. Deep down in my belly I feel impure thoughts well up. I don’t want them to tarnish this moment and try to think of something else.

It was nice, those musical wonder months, even though they weren’t very successful. Just like me, he did his best for the group until the very end. That alone, I realise now, is worthy of recognition. We both felt sorry when it all ended. We don’t talk about it today, there’s a time and a place for everything. I turn around again and look at him, determined. If you ask me, our time together is here and now.


autor of the original Dutch text Grietje Y. M. François

translated into English by Nathalie Tabury - nathalietabury.com

edited by Christopher Dunkley - chrisdunkley.biz

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