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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.”

“…”

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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 my face. It must be over forty years ago we travelled to former Yugoslavia, I remember laughing at oldies like us. “Oh! Did we tell you?” Thea sounds excited now. “We’re going to be grandparents.” I hear the smile in her voice and I feel grateful. They are-a changing. I stick the raisin bread between my teeth to receive my coffee.

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I just wanna ride my bike

Heerenveen – Schiphol

“It’s my first time on a train today!”, he says. I chuckle, and the conductress smiles.

“And how are you liking it?”, she asks. He grins and gives two thumbs up. She moves on, then changes her mind and walks back. “How come you haven’t used a train before?” Her eye sparkles as if she asks for an intimate detail.

“I live on Ameland, there’s no trains there!” She nods, understanding.

“I see. Enjoy your day sir!”

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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 case out of my way, “Plenty of room! When no one’s here I’ll spread out, but come in!” My face softens when I sit down, while she continues in the same breath. “Yup I borrowed fifty cents, but you paid for the boat, so all in all, about fifteen euros.” I startle, but then, concealed by luggage, I spot a second face.

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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 clues as to where he flew from. I breathe in again, unmistakeably smoke. Fresh, I’d say, but he doesn’t strike me as having recently had a bonfire. “Station Zwolle..”, shit. He passes me, taking the suspicious scent with him. I quickly google the words ‘fire’ and ‘Schiphol’, but the first hit is an article from 2012. With a sigh, I re-open ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’.

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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 pizzas as well? He looked around. Oh, Job took the bag. Job always got everything, he also took the only set of headphones. Some lemonade then, he thought, good that his mom prepared his flask this afternoon. Keeping his eyes fixed on his phone, his fingers found his lemonade, and without missing a second, he zipped his Knolpower-bag back up.

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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 writing? Tycho tried peeking at her screen, but couldn’t make out what it was about.  After ten minutes, she tapped the shoulder of the boy in front of her and passed her laptop without explanation. Passing notes in the year 2019. Tycho held in a chuckle and suppressed the urge to raise his hand. No one likes a tattletale!

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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 them, a we-feeling is cultivated, which gives an impression of power.” Yes, I figured something like that. But can’t they just do that quietly? An extra high pitched note startles me, and I close my eyes. Then I let my tongue droop out of my mouth. No shame, lions breath. Let it go.

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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 things others didn’t and he looked straight into the camera. His type was easy to estimate, he was the cunning, intelligent man with a complex backstory. He got up and walked to the exit, a bounce in his tred. He shook his hair out of his face, almost in slow motion. The doors closed right behind him. Abruptly he was pulled back – his backpack stuck between the door! As his face flushes, my image shatters.

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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 a beach-bag last minute, tied by its handles to the hand luggage. Because you never know! Clearly prepared for anything, she pulls out a neatly folded plastic bag so she can put her feet on the seat opposite her. Seat number four claimed. I smile openly now. Who cares. Plenty of room!

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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 anyone. One gentleman looks like he might get up, but changes his mind. A girl demonstratively inserts her earbuds. I’m curious and look around. They are stretched out on four chairs, heads back, loudly laughing up their lungs. I chuckle. Innocent, yet annoying.

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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 scones and cigarettes. And he is very careless about time; he is always late!” I decided to help him. “Vincent. I love your jacket! Is it the same one you wore on the Coolsingel?” Vincent rose up but was interrupted by the intercom. Cora grasped her opportunity. “How they mumble”, she complained. “Someone should teach these people to articulate.” Vincent opened his mouth, but Cora didn’t give him a chance. “Don’t even, Vincent, – .” She continued, but Vincent and I unitedly stopped listening. At least they were off Toine.

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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 cup to my lips, if I cross my eyes I can see how the brown muck slowly crawls my way. Are you supposed to drink it or spoon it? I stuff the straw back in and try again. Jesus, cold! Ice-coffee, hence the structure. The flavour is a familiar one, but why… Another slurp and there it is. Oreo!

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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 twelve songs he currently had on his phone. His grandson had helped him with that as well, he had thought that was quite the invention at the time. He had to admit that those same twelve songs had started to bore him, and also the idea of all imaginable music right here in his pocket had appealed to him. His grandson had assured him that this program hosted a wide range of music, not just modern rap but also his favorite classics. All good and well, but he first had to get this goddamned program to open, he thought. Testily he tapped his screen a few times more. Right away three, four, five programs opened. Sweet mother Mary, he thought wearily.

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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. These lessons together are fun, but I can’t help but think about how Tobias wants to act on his lessons. Too late I notice he stopped reciting. Momentarily my eyebrows pull together. Shit, what was four again. Dul? No, that’s two. Damn, what was going on lately. “Da -”, I start hesitatingly. “Daseot!”, he exclaims triumphantly. He’s only sixteen now, but in a few years anything can happen. The haze behind my eyes grows denser. What if he really wants to go?

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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 years younger and a grade higher on the social ladder. At the moment she was telling a story, throwing in French words and phrases right and left. She was talking about the wife of the gardener of her son’s second house in Bretagne, with a nonchalance clearly showing her lack of perspective. “Simply marvellous”, Francine concluded. During their monthly lunch meetings she would dream away on the sound of Francine’s voice, much the same as she used to so when she read books about ladies of nobility. Francine’s tone was the physical representation of the life she could have had, with the immediate realisation of how happy she was with horizons a bit broader than Francine’s.

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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 you”, she answered his unasked question. “We’ll see plenty of each other”, he answered, although he knew that wasn’t what she meant. He read it in her light green eyes. He was crazy about her, that much had become clear to him over the last few days. This weekend had been amazing, but once back at university things would have to change back to the way they were. She’d have to start calling him “sir” again. Two more years before she would be done, he thought with a hint of desperation. Was she worth looking for a different position? His head ached just thinking about it. Her head was resting against the seat while she looked at him with a glimmer in her eyes and a little smile on her lips. One more night, he thought, he’d think about it in the morning.

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Steenwijk – Heerenveen

A vague trail of cigarette smoke could be strangely erotic, she thought absentmindedly as she followed the conductor with her eyes. It reminded her of the time she would shamelessly flirt with older guys in smoky café’s. She would occasionally still look at the type of guy she used to find exciting because they were older, only now because they were twenty years her junior. Still exciting, she thought wryly. This conductor was at least twentythree though. That wasn’t so bad. Not that she would ever have the guts to act on it. She shuddered. She couldn’t imagine what he would think, the poor guy. Back in the day things were different, she thought with a pinch of nostalgia. She used to be braver. She shot back from her nostalgic feelings when the conductor came walking back. She sent him a fleeting smile. He nodded back.

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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 a new wardrobe. Her home-home clothes were so preppy and high schooly. She still wore them over the weekend, if only not to have to listen to her dad and brother joke. But for the trip home she had changed back into her student uniform. Her new glasses with the large, round frame, the baggy T-shirt printed with an ironic quote and a crudely cut, bleached pair of jeans. Very eighties. Her backpack was full of clean laundry, something she was very pleased her mother hadn’t mentioned, half a loaf of bread and a can of tomato soup she had pillaged from home. Early class tomorrow. She took a savouring breath. She loved the student life.

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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. “You’re quite right”, she answered. “It would be cozier.” It sounded amazing to her, separate armchairs, slightly wobbling, cups of tea sliding back and forth on little side tables. On the ceiling would be oldfashioned lamps, like her grandma used to have. Her mom was asking more questions, but she was barely listening. Her thoughts were with the Knight Bus from Harry Potter, which could drive through entire buildings. “How safe do you usually feel in the train”, she heard her mother ask. She didn’t have to think long about that one. “Very safe. Nothing’s happened to me in all my seven years”, she answered firmly.

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Leiden – Zwolle

“You are a amiable man”, she spoke to him. “How you offer a hand to any and everyone. Simply splendid. And you clearly enjoy it greatly.” He smiled involuntarily. “Call me boss an’ tell ‘im”, he answered, underscoring his accent. The ladies laughed. “I do wish you a pleasant day sir.” Smiling he moved on. Ladies like these were common on this track, going shopping for a day, or visiting family. He had to admit it was nice to hear, although he had a hard time placing their formal tone. He used to have the idea that a comment like that was meant to denigrate, he still couldn’t be sure if it was. He had decided a long time ago to interpret anything said to him in the train as positively as he could muster, that made his life significantly easier. Amiable was a new one though, he thought with a grin. May even look it up later.

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Breda – Tilburg

Three degrees Celcius, said her phone. She shivered involuntarily, a blissful smile on her face. It was of course only seven in the morning, but still. To keep up appearances she would complain with her friends, but secretly she loved the early changing of the seasons. Over the weekend she had put her cosy sweaters back in her closet. She snugly dug down in the collar of her coat, she lay both her hands around her coffee mug and enjoyed the nippy feeling in her nose. She loved cold early mornings. She felt a little giddy, the prospect of pumpkin spiced lattes, buying presents when dusk starts setting in already during the day and the general feeling of excitement of the month December. Sure, it was still only September, but suddenly December seemed substantially closer than two weeks ago, when it was still twenty five degrees Celcius. Feeling mutinous she opened her browser. “Christmas decorations”, she typed. Blissfully she started scrolling.

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Amsterdam Zuid – Delft

“We have left Schiphol Airport with a delay of four minutes, because some asshole decided to throw his bag between the doors.” He let go of the intercom and immediatelly regretted his bitter tone. “But I wish you all a pleasant trip”, he added sheepishly. Jesus Christ, always the same story. He really didn’t feel like dealing with the bullshit from management, this route was just sensitive to delays, nothing he could do about it. He told himself he wouldn’t let these things get to him anymore, that definitely failed today. He had a hard time getting rid of the jittery feeling, he realised all too well that this small delay could lead to delays up to thirty minutes for some of his passengers. Those students really only thought about themselves, one of those weirdo’s just throwing a bag between the doors to make sure he could still get on. He felt irritation bubble up inside. Most travelers only thought of themselves, same story for management. Delay percentages, who cares. Here he was, trying to care for all his passengers, who was caring for him? With a cross move he pressed the button. “Ladies and Gents, Leiden Central Station is next, we will arrive four minutes late due to one asshole who felt it was necessary to throw his bag between the doors.” He breathed out. “Don’t forget your belongings and have a safe trip home.”

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Delft – Amsterdam

“Dude, where were you last night.” He turned, his lightblue eyes looking calmly from under his cap. “I just had to work this morning, you know”, he answered. He didn’t assume the boys would understand, they had no problem going to work with a hangover. These were the moments he felt so much more mature than his friends. If he wanted to he could join in the conversation but he thought it was a bit wearisome, usually he would hop in and out of the student modus. Around him they continued to boast, the boys with rolling r’s, Giselle with her Belgian accent and a hoarse voice from partying. She clearly enjoyed hearing her own voice, he thought amused. He was an observer and had accepted his role as being a-little-different long ago. It usually brought him opportunities, people thought he was interesting, mysterious. He felt he was a little boring sometimes, but well, he had always been more mature than his peers. He was used to his role, he had grown into it. Amused he looked around, they were so easy to read.

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Delft – Leiden

“I’m breaking up with you.” Expectantly she looked up at her. “Or, you start trying really hard right now. If you blow me off once more, don’t trust me or treat me as a vagina we are done for good,” Jacqui dictated. Ella typed along, giggling, looking pleased.

“Sounds clear to me. I’m not even sure why I’m still doing this, the second I meet someone else I am out,” she said with more bravado than she felt. It felt nice to have so much power, it made her feel like she mattered. Jaqcui giggled corroboratory.

“Send it, I can’t wait.” When Jaqcui got off a station earlier she felt her energylevels drop. That happened frequently. With her friends she felt great, but as soon as she was alone not much remained. Suddenly her skirt felt too short, her heels too high and her phone stayed painstakingly quiet. That horrible moment where you waited for someone to reply, avoiding this was reason enough to keep having a boyfriend. She felt the feeling of power melt away. Two ticks. He read it.

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Delft – Tilburg

“…CHOO”. Annoyed he looked up from his book. Was it socially acceptable to tell someone off for repeated sneezing in the silent compartment? He tried to refocus his attention to the abortion debate going on in the United States. Promptly he was distracted by the views outside his window. A dense morning fog drifted across the water, above which the deep orange of an early morning appeared. His attention had now disappeared completely, he felt his mind wander to his exchange year in Japan, years ago. This happened every time he was confronted with fog. The Japanese had such an interesting relationship with fog. His eyes no longer looked annoyed, dreamy instead, his book was still on the right level but at an angle he wouldn’t be able to read. Somewhere, someone sneezed, he seemed to barely even hear it. It was just another undiscernable sound on the background of his Japanese mountain.

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Eindhoven – Tilburg & Eindhoven – Rotterdam

Eindhoven – Tilburg

He felt the eyes of the older couple upon him, their gaze was amused and loving, a little like his grandparents looked at him. Or at least, the eyes of the man. The woman had a stern look, she was obviously annoyed by the sound. That reminded him of his grandma even more. He felt his behavior change under their gaze. He was more aware of himself and a little louder. He felt the urge to impress the man and annoy the woman a little more. With his deep voice, which occasionally shot up, he joined his classmates’ conversation.

“Homework? Please, I go to a Waldorf school.” From the corner of his eye he saw how Anne was eating a salad, sitting between those haughty posers Samantha and Nadine. He nodded at her.

“Good?” She nodded back. He had the feeling that the two of them were the only normal people from their age group. She was the only one not putting up a show. He felt the looks of the couple in front of him and unconsciously spread his legs a little wider, looking at the woman provocatively. She quickly looked away. While he felt a warm triomph bubble up inside, he saw Anne throw a apologetic look at the woman.

Eindhoven – Rotterdam

They sat quietly side by side. They didn’t move in sync but in harmony. They positioned themselves around eachother rhythmically, as a live peace of art. On first glance independent, but subtly reactive. They complemented each other, she was disapproving, he cheerful. He looked at the rowdy schoolboys in front of them with a sympathetic look on his face, she pursed her lips. He sought eyecontact, she looked outside. Their legs didn’t touch, but they were clearly parts of a whole. Together they were balanced, moving unanimously. Now and then they looked like they wanted to say something, but they did so in silence. When the schoolboys left the train she was relieved, although one of the girls had send her a kind smile. He found it regrettable, he had enjoyed listening to them. She looked fearful in her motions, he comforting. Today would be a tensive day.

 

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Heerenveen – Zwolle 2x

“I’m hoping for a lively trip”, she heard him say. She looked up, he looked good. Clearly very young, maybe nineteen. His dark eyes were open and mischievous. He looked at the world like a grown man, but from a boys body. She could see what he would grow into, he still had adolescent skin but in eight years or so he would be a handsome guy. Especially if he managed to hold on to his naughtiness, she thought with a smile. He reminded her of Alex, they had the same beautiful smile and dark wavy hair.

“That shouldn’t be a problem”, she replied to him, her eyes gleaming as well. “Where are you guys from?” He looked taken aback, but answered right away. Good fun, such a cheeky one. It wasn’t long before they had discussed the art exhibition she had visited in detail, they even studied the leaflet. He took the conversation lightly, she could tell, but he seemed like a good guy. Nearing Zwolle, she started to get up.

“Oh no, we were just starting to get along,” he said, a mildly mocking twinkle in his eye. She winked at him and shuffled out.

&

“I’m hoping for a lively trip,” he said out loud, looking around expectantly. They had roamed through Friesland the whole day and it would take them over two hours to get home. He was feeling restless. He was hoping for a good conversation with some cute Frisian girls. The lady sitting across him in the four-seater looked up the way older women can.

“That shouldn’t be a problem,” she said. “Where are you boys from?” The women were obviously interested in them, he couldn’t help but smile. Not entirely what he expected, he thought with amusement, but well, a little flirt couldn’t hurt. When he looked up from his phone he saw a bag open. The lady opposite him pulled out a box of hard candies and offered it to him. He worked hard to keep a straight face. He was being shamelessly seduced, he thought, fifties-style. With pleasure he fished out a sticky candy. Hmm. Strawberry.

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Leiden Central

He balanced on the edge. His feet in front of each other, the ridge of his shoe exactly on the yellow line. Relishingly he blew the smoke right out of the square. Ridiculous, he thought. A sidewalk chalked cage in which all smokers were to assemble, a bizarre arbitrary rule. He felt rebellious, albeit quietly, but still. A smoking lounge with glass sides and a roof he could appreciate, a hotbox where smoke was supposed to stay inside. This felt to him as a game of bully the smoker. A pillory, a scaffold meant to embarrass him into quitting. With a vicious click he lit his next. He looked around mutinously, as he moved to the long end of the rectangle. Ostentatiously he tapped his cigaret not in the ashtray, but on the corner of the smoking area, only just crossing the line.

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Schiphol – Den Haag HS

He was surrounded by luggage. Clearly embarrassed he pushed the slightly feminine Louis Vuitton purse a little to the side. Letitia had gone to the bathroom, giving him time to think over this predicament. Seven months ago it had seemed practically impossible to say goodbye, but things were different now. On the way to the airport he had still looked forward to seeing her, but now that she was here.. All of a sudden he noticed how her breath smelled a little funny. And she talked so much, in an accent that was suddenly repugnant to him. It seemd that she packed everything she owned, how long did she expect to stay? “Did you cook?” She was back. He shook his head. ”I have sandwiches.” She started talking about food, or cooking, he couldn’t be sure. She tended to swerve off topic. His thoughts were somewhere else entirely anyway. How was he going to handle this? He didn’t know what to do with these feelings of disappointment and nostalgia. She flew halfway across the world, for hím. And he practically shuddered at the idea of sharing a bed with her tonight. He wished he could go back in time. A few days or weeks, maybe even a few years. He got up, gesturing to the bathroom. Maybe he just needed some time to readjust, get used to her again, he thought to himself. But deep down he knew better.

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Tilburg – Eindhoven

They would take the same train every tuesdaymorning. One day they had had a pleasant conversation on the perron and from that day forward they waited for eachother by the stairs. They both brought their own little thermos, Nel drank coffee, she drank tea. She wasn’t actually sure whether Nel took this same train the rest of the week. Now that she gave it some thought, she wasn’t even sure what Nel did at all. For some reason they always ended up talking about something they saw on the news or some meaningless anecdote from breakfast. Still, she felt she knew Nel pretty well. Lately she had wondered whether Nel enjoyed the company as much as she did, as Nel had taken up the habit of leaving in one side of her earphones, just like her oldest son did. Last night she watched a detective about a lady who secretly worked for the CIA, she felt her mind drift to Nel from the get-go. Maybe this trip was actually her cover? She had considered following Nel one day, but in end decided against it. In the improbably case that her theory was right she wouldn’t want to jeopardise Nels cover, or worse, disrupt their weekly rendez-vous.

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Zwolle – Almere

With a determined face she was meditating. The sun was half-shining in her eyes, just so that one of her eyelids lit up in red and the other felt cold and dark. She couldn’t determine which felt better. But that wasn’t what she was doing anyway, she was letting the thoughts pass her by. A little to the left maybe, so they would at least feel the same. Better. The sun seemed to tickle her nose, she could feel her nostrils twitch. Would scratching be the bigger disturbance, or the tickle itself? That sounded like a life question, she giggled internally. See, this meditating was already paying off, deep thoughts were flooding in. “The next stop is Almere Centrum”. Her eyes flew open. Fuck. Despairingly she looked at her screen. Eight minutes today. Well, better than nothing, she thought as she hoisted her bag over her shoulder. She let out a breath, her face relaxing. Another to-do done.

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Leiden – Amsterdam Zuid

Her head felt full. Unfortunately with slime, not facts. She had heaved herself from her bed this morning, but it hadn’t been easy. She told herself she would feel better once she dragged herself into the uniform of a regular tuesday, but reality proved otherwise. She unrelentlessly held her book up in front of her. She wouldn’t let anything get between her passing this exam. But she was so tired, the idea of napping for a few minutes was unusually tempting. The rocking of the train made her underlining be less neat than usual, but even that couldn’t bother her. Today was a day of internal conflict, clearly visible in her light eyes. They showed both desperation and determination. Eventually she closed her book and let herself be taken away by the cityscape passing her by. With a bitter around her mouth she pulled out her phone. She started typing furiously, ostensibly a verbal middle finger to her inner perfectionist.

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Amsterdam Zuid – Leiden

He squinted his eyes as he looked from his own cell to his workcell, which lay on his leg. His head was buzzing. Not from exhaustion, it was a buzzing of thoughts. Only a little while longer. Then, his phone vibrated. He felt himself smile. Olivia had sent a funny GIF, she probably just woke up. Last night they ate together, dinner for him, breakfast for her. She had laughed at his habit of making a smiley face out of ketchup on his burger. When he smiled down at his phone his grey temples seemed darker, the stubble on his chin suddenly made him look boyish instead of shabby. His skin tone appeared to change very slightly, as if a filter was lifted. He hadn’t had the opportunity to draw a ketchup smiley on her food, they had never ate in the same room. Lately he hadn’t minded working late, the leftover bit of evening was his favorite time of day anyway. His thumbs hovered over his cell, hesitating, before he typed a message back, the same smile on his lips. Between nine and midnight was his window of communication with Olivia, these were the moments he lived for.