The tranquil evening, allowing only the melancholic call of a distant cuckoo, slipped noiseless into the dark of the summer night. The moon, hidden behind the clouds, giving the young couple laying on the sloping grass surrounded by tall reeds near the water’s edge the benefit of privacy, but soon the moon removed the curtain of cloud to expose their isolation …
Who am I kidding? We are not nearly that far in the story. Besides, it was not in the summer, not a romantic evening, well, at the beginning maybe it was, but there definitely were no stars, nor lying on grassy slopes, none of that, the real beginning of the story happened in the recently created polder in the Dutch lowlands, wrestled away from the former North Sea, in which several towns were already in a state of development and populating it was in full swing.
The real place of kickoff was in that still wet behind the ears polder where I entered the bus at the same time that a good looking teenager left it. Our eyes met for a split second which was enough for me to see her face coloring a blood red. Never before had a girl so openly shown discomfort on account of me, and I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it. Though it surprised me, the girl’s apparent unease made me not feeling badly, rather the opposite I thought. In any case, that was truly the kickoff, I’d say.
The evening was cold and typically polder-dark for there were no outdoor lights as yet.
It was also catechism evening. The minister about to teach the teenagers hankering outside in spite of the wintery discomforts, was waiting inside. And, it was a white winter wonderland as well, for it had been snowing the previous day.
Most of the dozen teenagers eyeing each other did not yet know each other, as they had only recently migrated from various parts of the country. They were also eyeing the snow.
One brave boy threw a missing snowball, followed by another one that didn’t miss the girl he aimed for, and then the entire group joined in, some took a hand-full of snow with which they lathered a girl’s face, making her squeal and fight him off as hard as she was able to. Everybody was snow fighting now, the boys trying to push the snow not only in the neck of the girls but inside their blouse as well. It was a novel way to get to know one-another and everybody loved it.
I had my hands full with the girl who I gave the snow treatment as she was stronger than I had imagined. Yes, yes, she was the one with the blushing face I saw at the bus stop and her cheeks were even more red now. Her name was Anne ‘with two n’s’ she said, and I decided to take bike her home which was a few KM outside of the town.
When Anne after our catechism instruction went for her bike I was right there to join her.
Sometimes, seldom, in fact very seldom, a man can’t loose for winning, and this was my night.
The polder was quiet now, not a thing was breaking the silence, and it was dark, pitch dark, but our head lights were sufficient to see where we were going, and the wind was at our back, when we side by side drove into the dark of the of the light-less rural road.
To make our journey a complete blessing, it started to snow again. A few tiny snow flakes at first, soon followed by a rain of millions tiny snow parachutes softly landing all around and on us. I turned my headlamp into the sky, turning the snowflakes into a stream of mini lights heading straight for us. For us?
I was alone. The girl who in my mind I had already claimed to be mine, had swung off the road into her driveway. I was unable to see her through the snow but clearly heard ‘klink’ of a door handle, and after that a door close. And then – nothing.
Nothing, but snow coming down, lots of snow, quickly coating the road snow-white, and back home I had to bike against the wind. And the snow.
It was then and there and because, that I solemnly a-vowed to not ever accord, consort, concord or any other cord or sort, nor even look at that young woman again.