The story so far: eternal student Willem-Jan has been ploughing through his degree forever. And to make matters worse, he’s single again.
Willem-Jan had been fighting sleep from the moment he arrived at Ceres. The previous night he had christened his PlayStation 4 with a FIFA marathon against Filippo. He was feeling the after-effects at this open party, at which there were hardly any familiar faces. Babyfaces and gelled hairstyles, by contrast, were in abundance. They belonged to first-year students, who seemed to be getting younger every year. Irritated, Willem-Jan wormed his way through the crowd to the bar. He found himself next to a girl who looked as tired as he felt.
‘I’ve never seen you here before,’ said Willem-Jan, only to realize in an instant how corny that sounded. Still, her face lit up. Pretty girl, he thought.
‘No, I’m not a member,’ she said. ‘My sister brought me here but I’m too tired to be sociable.’ Join the club, thought Willem-Jan. He order two beers and stayed beside the girl, whose name turned out to be Emma, propping up the bar.
When she asked him about his uni programme, he avoided giving a straight answer.
‘I have a rule that I don’t discuss my studies after 8 o’clock,’ he fabricated. ‘We work hard enough as it is, don’t we? Evenings are for the pub and gaming.’ Again, her face lit up.
‘I love gaming.’
‘Ah,’ said Willem-Jan sheepishly. ‘As it happens I’ve just bought PlayStation 4.’
‘That’s cool. No way could I afford that right now.’
‘Er, actually you look much too sporty for a gamer. I bet you’re really into sport, aren’t you?’ Emma blushed.
‘Well, at home-home I do gymnastics...’ Willem-Jan tried to remember the last time he’d played any sport. Emma nudged him and he lost that train of thought.
‘You know what we should do?’ she said. ‘We’re both tired; let’s go to your house and have a go on your PlayStation.’ Willem-Jan almost dropped his beer. Was this really happening? He usually had to talk until he was blue in the face to entice a girl.
‘Er, yeah, that’s a good idea. A nice bit of ... gaming.’
On the way to the exit he came to his senses. Emma had come along with her sister, had no money and at home-home she was a member of a gymnastics club: how old was she for heaven’s sake? He wondered how many more dents his reputation at Mortierstraat could take. ‘So what year are you in then?’, he asked anxiously.
‘Oh, I’m in the last- but-one year of high school. My sister showed me round the university today.’ Emma completely misread the look of surprise that was crossing Willem-Jan’s face. ‘I faked my ID myself to get in here. Clever, eh?’
Illustrations: Kim Peterse