Hits 3020 | Created 2007-06-13 | Modified 2007-06-13Used and refused
t the end of the following day we were dirty, smelly, hungry and tired. The sun was going down and we weren't really looking forward to another night sleeping in a field, in fact we all thought about beds. The day had gone quite well, we had rides from policemen who told us off for hitching along the freeway - this was strictly forbidden we were led to believe. But when we looked confused and rambled on in English they softened and looked happy to try out their English as they drove us along to the next freeway junction, explaining Belgian laws to us. After they had waved us farewell we would trudge back up to the freeway and begin hitching again.
Our last hitch of the day in sunlight arrived and we all jumped in. The driver was a pleasant man called Nic and he drove us to a town called Ghent.
'You'll like Ghent,' said Nic, 'we're having a ten day festival at the moment. Come to my sister's house with me and we'll take you to the party with us.'
We agreed. Tired as we were, we simply couldn't refuse such hospitality.
Some time later we were sitting in a room full of Belgians drinking wine and chatting in Flemmish to each other. Nic's sister was a young woman called Nicole who was wonderfully attractive and owned a rather nice house, it seemed. She was friendly and seemed surprised that we couldn't speak any Flemmish.
'Well, at least some Dutch then?' she asked.
She told us how similar Flemmish and English were, pointing at a lamp and saying, 'See, lamp, that's the same in both languages.' We looked a little doubtful.
At some unseen signal everyone got up and left the house to go to the party. Nicole told us to leave our bags as we could crash there for the evening and she would give us a ride to the edge of Ghent tomorrow. We complied and jumped into her car, driving about fifteen minutes into town. En route she even changed some Stirling into Belgian Francs at a decent exchange rate for us - 'I'll go to the bank during the week,' she explained.
We parked down a small side street and then walked for ten minutes in the direction of techno.
There were streets full of drunken, dancing people. Every building in the street seemed to be a bar, and every bar seemed to have a large sound system pumping out all kinds of dance music - mostly seeming to be drum & bass and something like gabba.
We bought beers and stood around chatting and taking in the scene. A drunken man staggered up to Dan and said in English (after first trying in Flemmish), 'Please skin up.' Dropping a large bag of grass into his hand. Dan was pleased to oblige and set to work. When he looked up a few moments later, the man had vanished into the night, leaving his gear behind like a good grass fairy. Dan shrugged and continued.
Nicole appeared out of the crowd and gently manouevered me away from the others. James looked at me for a moment, some light in his eye, then focused his attention back on Dan and the joint-in-progress.
I engaged in smalltalk with Nicole, flirty smalltalk. She stood too close to me, held my eyes too long, fingered my tee shirt as she talked, took my hand and rubbed my arm. I was rather pleased, a grin breaking out on my face, and flirted back. Suddenly she was kissing me, a full Belgian kiss, hot and passionate that went on for perhaps three or four minutes. When we finished we chatted some more and drank our beers, cool like. I then noticed a large looking Belgian guy standing close by, looking evilly at me.
Nicole saw my look and said casually, 'Oh, that's my ex-boyfriend.'
'Oh.' I said, looking away from him.
I thought, stomach twisting, then asked,'How long?'
'Just a few days,' she said, 'he's stupid though, can't accept it. Keeps on thinking we'll get back together. Still,' she paused, smiling, 'now he seen me kissing another man, maybe he will get the message, eh?'
'Um, yes.' I said.
Silence (except for the techno).
'Do you want to get out of here?' Nicole asked.
'Yes,' I said, without hesitation.
She took my hand and pulled me towards and then past the ex-boyfriend, who glowered at me.
We walked back to the car, as we were about to get in, I remembered - 'What about James and Dan?' I asked.
She gave me a look which basically said this:
If you want to go back and have sex with me then forget about them and come on.
I thought about this, about friendship, about loyalty and said to myself, they can look after themselves, let's go!
I truly believed that they could look after themselves and, more than that, that either one of them would do exactly the same thing in my position and therefore, understand. I felt guilt, but got over it.
When we got back we went straight upstairs and began kissing on the bed, undressing each other as we went. I was suddently conscious of being incredibly dirty - unwashed from many days of field camping and service station bathrooms. She was down to her blue and white striped underwear and as she undid my pants and began to pull them down, she stopped. It can be surprising for girls to discover that a man doesn't wear underwear. The kiss stopped too. I pulled away and looked into her eyes.
'I can't,' She said simply, and rolled onto her back. 'It's just too soon, you know?'
I didn't, but accepted my fate calmly.
'Can we just sleep?' She asked.
'Of course.' I said, as nicely as I could and began to feel terribly guilty about James and Dan. I pictured them walking the streets, exhausted, lost and stoned, cursing me. I lay back with my eyes open in the dark feeling very, very guilty. Somehow an excuse of leaving them stranded to go home and sleep was less likely to be recived well than going home to have sex.
At about 4am there was a knock on the door.
'They're you're friends,' Nicole said, rolling over, 'you get it.'
I did. I was glad to see James and Dan at the door. I answered it smiling. They weren't smiling though. They looked less glad to see me. I was frankly amazed that they had found their way back. They looked down at my dress, which consisted of only a towel, clutched in place with one hand. They exchanged glances and mellowed, rolling their eyes as if all had become clear.
I gestured to the sofa and slinked back up the stairs to my sexless bed.
In the morning we all took well needed showers and were fed yogurt, cornflakes and orange juice by Nicole. After washing and eating the mood was jovial. Then, before we could relax too much Nicole seemed anxious for us all to be gone, we were gently hustled into her car and driven through the town until the buildings gave way to fields.
We all stood around and gave and received the same hugs. There were no kisses. I took a photo of her with James and Dan and a flash of displeasure was captured forever on film. She invited us all back to her house if we were ever in Ghent again with a tone that implied that she wasn't including our return trip from Italy in the invitation. We promised we would and walked away, knowing that none of us would ever see her again.
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