A good marriage

Amsterdam Zuid – Leiden “I walked 3,4 kilometre today.” “Hmm.” “That’s what it says.” “Yea.” “Including two hours in the concert hall.” “Tja.” “Cycling counts too, though.” “Oh.” “4331 steps. And it’s almost tomorrow.” “True.” “What about all those stairs though. I guess they don’t count.” “No.” “Not fair.” “…”

Oh, how the times

Leiden – Groningen “They’re young. Must feel like a lifetime away”, Willem puffs. I laugh. Look at us, four grey heads, worrying about our kids’ pensions. “With the current interest rates…” Thea nods, her face serious. And there it comes, home-made coffee and sliced raisin bread. A grin spreads on Read more…

Second impressions

Amersfoort – Hilversum A pair of dirty sneakers stretched out onto a suitcase. Two bags and another suitcase. It’s a six-person compartment, but it looks full. I slow down, annoyed, doubtful. Then I make eye contact with a friendly pair of eyes, belonging to the dirty shoes. She pulls her Read more…

Suspicious scents

Schiphol – Zwolle I sniff him – suspicious! He’s next to me, waiting for the train to stop moving. Only a few more seconds, then he’ll be gone. I scour him for details. Are his shoes dirty? Or his fingernails? A large yellow suitcase with the letters AMS, but no Read more…

Knolpower

Zwolle – Leiden Awesome, the newest Enzo Knol-vlog. Nibbling on a ladyfinger, he silently thanked mom for the ten bucks they got every week for something to eat on the train. He tried to open a Kinder Chocolate onehandedly, listening to Enzo talk about pizza. Didn’t that Haribo-bag have little Read more…

Tattletale

Utrecht – Rotterdam Alexander Like everyone in this compartment, Tycho had an open study book in front of him. Something-something anatomy, but he kept getting distracted. The beeping and vibrating of his phone, lady-behinds passing by and the frantic typing of the girl next to him. What would she be Read more…

Frustration management

Lelystad – Steenwijk “Why do teenage girls giggle?”, I type into my Google search bar. Maybe there’s a good reason, I think while my hypodermic irritation bubbles. It started with two, in front of me. Now there’s three more behind me. It’s spreading. “By stimulating other girls to giggle with Read more…

Protagonist

Leiden – Delft He understood life better than others. His delicate grey coat, buttoned-up neatly, his pointy nose and sharp eyes registering everything. His curls were not quite pulled down by gravity yet. In every story, he would be the main character. He could do things others can’t, he noticed Read more…

You never know

Heerenveen – Schiphol She occupies three seats, one for her, two for her bags. Annoyed, I pull up an eyebrow. She jumped the queue when entering the train too. She rummages through a bag, and I chuckle. This is how my mum would pack; stuffing a set of towels in Read more…

Innocent yet annoying

Amsterdam Zuid – Almere Civilised annoyance right and left, but they’ve got no leg to stand on. One woman appears mildly amused, the rest of the compartment radiates anxious aversion. They are in the connection piece, not the compartment, the rules are different out there. And they don’t actually bother Read more…

Dame d’Complain

Delft – Leiden Vincent scrambled for a different topic while Cora complained about her son. “I could sell my house for a good price, but there are no properties to buy back!” His voice was too loud. Cora glanced sideways, annoyed. “Toine’s not taking care of himself. He lives on Read more…

Cold and sweet

Delft – Leiden I tap the plastic with a vague sense of doom. Not at all what I expected. They can’t spell my name, that’s the first myth confirmed. I thrash my straw through the goo, the texture is closer to a slush puppy than a coffee. I push the Read more…

Black on white

Amsterdam Zuid – Almere Centrum “Can you cut these?” I bristle internally. He walked off before I noticed. “Properly”, he had added over his shoulder. And I am fucking doing it. I shake my head but continue cutting. Nine o’clock, still working for Paul. I háte him. Most names on Read more…

Call me crazy

Leiden – Amsterdam Zuid You used to be called crazy for talking to yourself, it was completely normal now. She chats into space, occasionally grinning shamelessly at her reflection in the window. I often notice headphones too late, for a second I actually thought this girl was crazy. And yesterday Read more…

Mothertongue

Zwolle – Schiphol “It’s like it is on the road. Red means wait.” I glance sideways with a mix of embarrassment and tenderness. Jaap loves speaking the language he spoke with his mother, any opportunity he gets. “Two minutes late we are,” he translates the Dutch intercom for the Asian Read more…

Selfie-game on point

Rotterdam Centraal – Utrecht Centraal Let’s give it a try. He holds his phone up the way he sees his grandsons do it. The screen remains dark. Settings maybe? Ah there it is, the inside camera needs turning on. Again. Now he sees himself looking back, a close resemblance to Read more…

Lederhosen delight

Leiden – Den Haag Centraal He turned once more, a cheerful look on his face. Would anyone notice? His face gleamed. Would they think he was weird? Or interesting? Would they think was going to Munich or a theme party? Expectantly he looked around. No one responded, but he felt Read more…

Travel girls

Zwolle – Schiphol I have a soft spot for travel girls. Tan skin, natural look, that’s my type. From where I’m sitting I just catch her sunbleached bun over the headrest of the seat, unmistakeably a travel girl. My assumption is backed up by the presence of two huge backpacks Read more…

Tilburg

Together they bend down over the book. “Look at that penguin!” Helga had lost interest a while ago, but Ans was firmly set on crocheting her fifth grandchild an animal, just like she did the others. The first two had cherished them. Her son wasn’t the type to spoil his Read more…

Zwolle – Leiden

She feared lagging behind, he thought. That must be it. She couldn’t stand feeling disadvantaged. She was suspicious about the weirdest things. Right now she worked herself forward with liberal use of her elbows, probably out of fear she would be denied a place to sit. She caught his eye. Read more…

Nijmegen

“The conductor has mistaken the time, but he is on his way.” Typical Harry, he thought, letting go of the intercom. Harry was the most chaotic person he knew. No wonder they weren’t taken seriously here in the South, this nonsense would never be tolerated in Rotterdam. What bothered him Read more…

Heerenveen – Zwolle

Severely annoyed he stared at the abundance of colors on his screen. He pressed the green circle, but nothing happened. Damn it, his grandson had explained it all this morning. This program was supposed to give him access to all music he could think of, a clear improvement on the Read more…

Delft – Leiden

“Why do I keep doing this to myself”, he says with a smile on his lips. I smile with him internally, I know how much he likes this. “Do you want to practice a little?” I nod. “Hana, dul, set, net”, he starts chanting. My head feels foggy, I’m tired. Read more…

Leiden – Zwolle

They were chatting elatedly. She loved it, particularly in public like this. Francine sounded incredibly posh. Her own r’s rolled nicely as well, but Francine really brought it home. After spending time in the company of Francine she always felt she had risen in ranks herself. Francine was about ten Read more…

Zwolle – Schiphol

He glanced sideways and saw how her marker hovered over the paper. She was studying a summary. He looked at the title, but it wasn’t a course he taught. She was blankly staring at the page, seemingly not taking anything in. He softly touched her arm. She startled. “I’ll miss Read more…

Rotterdam – Delft

Sundaynight. She was starting to get used to the sunday ritual of commuting back to her studenthouse. The bored look in the train, the feeling of independence on the tram and a undefinable scent of adventure on the walk home. Her first two financial aid payments were used entirely on Read more…

Leiden – Delft

“How do you feel about the interior of the train?” Her face puckered. “Well, I kinda like the blue.” She thought for a second. “But it would be better if they were all separate chairs, all in different colors.” Expectantly she turned to her mother, who smiled back at her. Read more…

NL