I was travelling on the train from Amsterdam to Brussels, a city where I lived at that time. I was sitting in a coupe, a separate small room, reserved for those who wanted some quietness and I remember that I was preparing for one of my exams related to English. I was studying at the Institute of Translators and Interpreters and the studies were intense. I had spent a weekend at my mum near the Hague (she lived there), and was returning home – to my beloved Brussels, a city I truly loved.
The train progressed in a good, soothing pace. I was struggling to focus on my syllabus because usually while on a train I just liked thinking: staring outside the window and at the passing landscapes and just reflect. I was also young then, twenty-one or twenty-two, and my head was always in some dream state of mind. I liked thinking about life, about love, and the future as in a fairytale. I was a dreamer.
A boy of approximately my age entered the coupe and installed himself right in front of me. I had noticed him briefly looking inside the coupe before opening the doors with his daring attitude. The train was almost empty. I always travelled between 11 and 14 to avoid crowds of people. I liked the train for myself, and I enjoyed the stillness of the coupe.
‘’My name is Menthe,’’ the guy was already talking and reluctantly I dragged my eyes away from my syllabus. I did notice that he was cute and had incredible blue eyes.
‘’My name is Ekaterina,’’ I answered, not sure whether to stop at that and put my book up in front of my face, or give him a chance. At that age I was shy, terribly shy.
‘’You study languages?” The boy commented pointing towards my book, ‘’I study medicine. My stop is in Antwerp.’’
His stop would be in twenty minutes. And thus, I decided to talk. We chatted about our studies, about languages and our countries. Menthe was Dutch, I was Russian, and it was amazing that we had both ended up doing our studies in Belgium. Menthe wanted to be a good doctor, while I told him that I wanted to be a writer one day but that I wasn’t yet ready. Suddenly, five minutes before his stop Menthe said, leaning towards me and almost touching his face with mine.
‘’I think you are the most incredible girl I’ve ever met, can I see you again?’’
I blushed and leaned backwards. It was unexpected but nice. He was extremely attractive and I liked his directness in declaring his affection for me. Which woman doesn’t like it, may I ask?
We quickly made the arrangements. None of us had a mobile phone then, and so we agreed to meet a week later, on Saturday in Brussels. I would meet him at the train arriving at four o’clock.
Next Saturday he was there, emerging from the train, the most beautiful boy on the platform. We approached each other and we kissed, first on the cheek and then on the lips, and it was long and delicious.
We walked around Brussels and then we came to my flat, which was overlooking the cemetery. I was living in the most incredible place! We cooked together a simple meal, opened wine and made love all night long. In the morning he had to go and I was feeling anxious. Would I see him again? But because I was so anxious, instead of asking him that question, I withdrew into myself and my behavior became cold towards him, and I could feel that he was puzzled.
It was only when we were next to his train ready to depart for Antwerp that he asked me:
‘’But will I see you again?’’
And instead of answering with a question ‘’when’’? I shrugged my shoulders, because I was uncertain when love was screaming into my face.
The mobile phones didn’t exist then, and thus, my hesitation was interpreted as a no. He looked at me from the train until it disappeared and I didn’t see him again.
A lost chance, as they say.