The ferry to the Hoek of Holland was not as I had expected. Having indulged notions of the Hilton at sea, the reality rather let the wind out of my sales. The fluorescent Mc Donald’s lights blinking garishly and the selection of folding yellow seats bolted to the deck floor instantly saddened me. My teenage brain had not thought to investigate the duration of this part of my travels to the Hoek of Holland. That fact also saddened me.
“English, right?” The rosy face of a young girl in a poncho invaded my space.
“No, but thanks.” I replied attempting British decorum.
“Oh. What are you then?” She continued.
“Ok, well what do you think I am?” I paused. Answering that question seemed riddled with risk. She quite obviously sounded Dutch. Which, for all intents and purposes in that moment, felt like entirely the wrong answer.
“Well?” She asked again.
“Dutch, I’d say?” I answered carefully raising my voice over the later portion of the sentence.
“Well, yes, but I don’t look it do I?” I risked taking a closer look.
The bright colours of the poncho drowning her frame had initially distracted me. Upon closer inspection, I noticed slender clean fingers and a perfect smile. Both of which were, rather sadly I reasoned, upstaged by an overwhelming, elbow-length mass of un-brushed, strawberry blonde hair. In fact, the whole lot was full of knots. I hoped that was all that was in there and considered taking a step backwards.
“They’re dread locks!” She informed me proudly.
“Oh.” I answered flatly. “I had a wrap in blue thread once.” I offered limply.
“That’s how mine started.” She affirmed. I wondered what had happened after that.
Remembering the fluff occupying my wallet, I reached for the large artists sketch book in my bag and quickly asked:
“Would you like a portrait to remember your travels? I can work in pencil or charcoal. You won’t get a better rate on either end of this ride and you don’t have to pay if you don’t like it.”
(To be continued)