Travelers of light we are, she is humming to herself. It is a song, but it is also the truth, according to her. They are marching the south-eastern suburbs of Brussels in order to get to the forest that still surrounds the city; despite the roads and quarters that have cut into it. It is 15 of January and wet snow is falling from the sky – the color of old unclean sheets. He is walking beside her silently, his upper body, head and good part of the face are covered in a bright red parka. Impossible to walk briskly in wind and snow and talk at the same time, so she keeps talking to herself. I will clear away the Christmas tree when we get home, finally, it is about the time. And then watch one of the Tarantino films – she got a box of DVD’s from a friend as a present. Walking in cold weather always induces happiness in her, as if there was a powerful substance in the air that shoots directly to her blood; happiness is a warm gum, another song quote. Cold gun, she muses and walks ever swifter. They are both having a day off, though it is Tuesday, not a weekend.
De Zonienwoud, La Foret de Soignes, the frayed belt of southern Brussels. A small singing bird flies low from a branch to a branch. Courageous creatures, survivors, these tiny birds in winter.
“How far do you want to walk?” He asks about an hour later.
All the way to Tervuren, there, we will have tea and a pancake and go back.
“No, by walking.”
He takes off the parka in a tavern in the square of Tervuren, nose and fingers bluish, then orders cappuccinos and pancakes for both in French, and open his cold mouth to say:
“I have reserved a plane ticket for Argentina, I am leaving next week. I cannot stand staying the whole winter in Belgium.”
“I love winter,” she says and against her will she starts crying.
“Well, you do, I do not. Al Capone did not like paying taxes, for example.”
The Christmas tree is still in the living-room, like a dead unburied body, she thinks as they silently sit at the corner table in a half-deserted coffee place, lots of aluminium surfaces, epiphany cakes under a glass dome, together with apple tarts and brownies. His upper lip is frosted with cream, like in the coffee commercial. But the commercial is set in Italy in summer. And now it is the pit of winter, and she needs the winter ride. Her tears dry out suddenly.
“Let´s go before the dusk falls, I still have things to do.”
All right, he zips himself up so that neither dry nor wet coldness can get him. In the meantime, she goes to the counter and pays and walking out, she silently murmurs, for me, you are as good as dead.