A young expatriate student is chilled by what she sees and thinks while walking the streets at night.
There is that sign again. The one saying “Te Koop.” I have encountered it so many times, walking down this street. I’ve already encountered it twice before since I woke up: Once when I was on my way to the frolic this morning and again when I was on my way to get dinner at the frituur (a snack shop that specializes in fresh-made fries). Now it’s a quarter to one in the morning, and I’m taking my dog Regi out for a carry. I don’t walk him; he’s a pain to walk with, so I carry him in my purse.
Across the street from this apartement te koop is Tineke’s place. She is one of the friendliest, most humorous people I’ve met here in Zaventem. I spotted her loading a tall box into the rear of a Fiat wagon. Luckily, I was wearing my sneakers, so it was easy for me to run to her, even with Regi in my purse. I managed to stop before yelling, “Hey, stranger!”
Unless she’s had a trim recently (in which case it still reaches as far as her hip), Tineke’s hair cascades down to her back pockets. All of it swirled as she turned around to face me. She shut the door to the Fiat. “Well, hey, Erin!” She opened her arms for an embrace.
“How are you, friend?” I asked, tickled by her hair in my face.
She let go. “I’m great. What are you up to tonight? Taking uh, uh–––”
“Regi.” I scratched my dog’s ears.
“Regi! Right! After the guy from Milk Inc.?”
“I swear, Erin, one day you will not need to tell me.”
“Don’t worry about it. You keep asking, I’ll keep answering.”
Regi jittered, sniffing and wagging his stub of a tail. Tineke stuck her hand under his snout. She appeared to be in a cheery mood. I had never seen her in such a mood at this time. Of course, then again, I had never seen her out at this time, period. I remarked on this as she tickled Regi’s chin.
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