Summary: A chance meeting between a Dutch girl and an American guy leads to more than either one of them ever expected. While traveling together and getting to know each other they find out they have more in common than they originally thought. They're both on the run, trying to forget, but is running away the answer to their problems? How will it end?
A/N: So, I haven't written (let alone finish!) an original story in a long time (years!), but because of some recent developments in my life, I decided to give it another shot. This story is very personal to me, so I'm very nervous about posting this here and reading people's reactions. I've already written a good part of the story, so I'll be able to update frequently.
The main character in the story Sanne is a Dutch girl (Huh. So am I! What a coincidence!) and the entire story takes place in Europe. She meets an American guy and that's the biggest reason for writing the entire story in English. So even when she comes in contact with Dutch people for instance, I'll write it in English to keep the story as universally understandable as possible. I hope you understand.
However, this doesn't take away the fact that I am a Dutch girl and English is not my first language. Therefore there might be some mistakes in spelling, grammar etc in this. Feel free to point them out to me in your review. I love to learn!
Well, there's nothing else left for me to say other than: enjoy! And let me know what you think! Thank you!
She hated the feeling of doubt that was slowly taking over her as she boarded the train. She knew this was a drastic way of dealing (or not dealing, really) with things and she knew running away wasn't the answer, but she needed to do this right now. Just to clear her head. She'd go back and face reality eventually. Maybe in a week. Maybe two.
She checked her train ticket once again and tried to match the number on the ticket to a seat. There it was, on the left, seat 24. The little card above the seat read: reserved seat Amsterdam-Berlin. The seat next to hers, by the window was already taken. She glanced at the #22 card. It was also a reserved seat Amsterdam-Berlin. Good, she thought. Now she wouldn't have to deal with other passengers, except this one. She took her small suitcase and lifted it above her head to shove in one of the luggage spaces. Then she sat down. The guy next to her looked up from his magazine for just a second and she gave him a quick, simple smile before looking away. She suddenly realized how crazy and unlike her all of this was. Of course she had always been a girl who dared to dream and who had a rather vivid imagination and yes, in her imagination and wildest dreams she was always very adventurous and impulsive, but she was well aware that in real life that couldn't be further from the truth. Yet here she was, in a train that would take her to Berlin, Germany, all by herself, with very little money, with no goal or purpose and without anybody knowing about it. Well, of course there was that note she had left on the kitchen table. The one that read: 'I'll be back, don't worry', or something to that effect, but that didn't really count, did it? Oh God…what was she doing? What was she trying to achieve here? She suddenly got restless and checked her watch. The train would take off in two minutes. She could still get off. She looked out of the window onto the platform. Should she? Yes! She should just get off and stop acting like a crazy person! She had almost gotten up on her feet when she felt how the train started to move. Shit! Too late. She settled back into her seat and tried to relax. It was okay. The train would still make a couple of stops before leaving the country, so she'd get just get off at the next stop, catch another train home and take a good look in the mirror and tell herself to stop being so damn messed up. Yes, that was a good plan. She took a deep breath, then realized the guy next to her was talking to her. In English. English? Right. She remembered English. She used to be good at it.
"Sorry, what?" She asking him. She'd been so caught up in her own thoughts that the only thing that had registered when she'd heard him speak was the fact that he spoke English. However, she had not paid attention to the actual words that had come out of his mouth.
"I was just saying that if you prefer sitting by the window, we could switch." The guy repeated.
"Oh no, that's okay. I'm good." She told him.
"Okay. Well, if you change your mind later on, let me know."
"I will, thanks." She nodded.
The guy smiled. He then got up and took off his worn, leather jacket, before sitting down again. She decided to follow his example but instead of immediately sitting down again, she reached into her bag and got her mp3 player out. She then made herself comfortable in her seat again.
"Not in the mood for a conversation, huh?" The guy asked, much to her surprise, nodding to her mp3 player. That was straight forward. He was right though. She wasn't the type for random chitchat with strangers.
"Well, I didn't realize you were looking for a conversation." She told him, politely.
"I'm not. Not really. I just realized I haven't spoken more than two words to anybody in two weeks and well…that can't be healthy."
She smiled at his words.
"I agree. But if it helps, I can already tell you haven't lost your ability to speak, so…"
"Ouch." The guy started, chuckling. "Was that a brush off? When all I asked for was a nice conversation?"
"It wasn't a brush-off. Besides, now you put pressure on it. You said that all you asked for was a nice conversation. There's a lot of pressure in the word 'nice'. I couldn't possibly live up to that." She explained, shrugging.
" So I am getting the cold shoulder?"
"Well, I guess we could give it a try, but I think there's too much pressure on it now."
"I promise you I can be a very good conversationalist. My skills might be a little rusty, because I haven't been able to use them in two weeks, but I think I could still do a good job."
"Well, surprise me, then. What would be your first topic of choice in this very pressured conversation?"
The guy frowned, an amused look in his eyes. She couldn't help, but smile a little as she watched him struggle to come up with the perfect topic.
"I guess I would introduce myself first." He then decided, holding out his hand. "I'm Jesse." He told her as he shook her hand.
"Pretty name. Unusual."
"Not really. Not where I come from."
"Pretty nonetheless. So, am I off to a good start?"
"Not too bad." She had to admit. "But that was the easy part."
"True." He agreed, once again frowning. "Next I'd like to know what your reason for traveling to Berlin is. Is that a good follow-up?"
"Hmm…" She started, mocking him just a little. "It's okay. I mean, it's personal, so it could put people off."
"Does it put you off?"
"No, but I still can't give you an answer to the question."
"Aah..you're adding a little mystery to it all."
She shrugged and smiled. "Just trying to be honest. What about you? What are your plans in Berlin?"
For just a second she saw a hint of something that resembled, well…something that she couldn't quite place, in his eyes, but he quickly covered it up as he tried to come up with a good enough answer.
"See, this conversation is already going sour." She told Jesse as she shook her head.
"What do you mean?" Jesse spoke up, smiling. "We're doing good. We're making progress."
"Nah. I can tell you don't want to tell me about your business in Berlin, just like I can't tell you about mine. So the first topic we decided on is already a bust. My guess is that next there will be an uncomfortable silence, then you'll probably ask me where I'm from, which I will tell you and you'll tell me where you're from, so that'll fill about all of minute, another uncomfortable silence will follow after which you'll either ask me if I have a boyfriend or start talking about the weather, depending on whether you're a perv or a genuine, albeit somewhat boring guy."
"So you can tell the future, huh?" Jess asked, smiling. Sanne nodded. "And those are my only two options? Perv or genuine, somewhat boring guy?" She nodded again.
Jesse nodded understandingly, obviously amused. A short silence fell as she looked at him and chuckled a little.
"So, where you're from?' He then asked, dead-serious as he looked up at her. She laughed.
"You really want to do it all?"
"I live here in the Netherlands. In Zwolle, to be more specific."
"Never heard of it."
"I didn't expect you to."
"Close to Amsterdam?'
"Not really. But it's a small country, so anything is close to Amsterdam when you think about it."
"Okay, cool. I'm from the States. California."
"Where in California?"
"So you're a surfer dude?" She asked, mockingly.
"Nope. I've tried it once, crashed into a wave, broke two ribs and never surfed again."
"Wimp." She murmured, just loud enough for him to hear. He immediately nudged her in the ribs. "Hey!" He spoke up. She laughed and was amazed at how comfortable this uncomfortable conversation was. He seemed like a nice guy.
"So…" Jesse started, after a short silence. "Do you have a boyfriend?"
"I knew it." Sanne started, still smiling. "You have perv written all over you." She joked.
"Well, you didn't exactly give me great options. I didn't want to be boring either."
Sanne suddenly felt how the train started to slow down. She looked out the window and realized the next stop was coming up. She sighed and felt slightly panicked.
"Everything okay?" Jesse asked.
"I'm thinking about getting off here. What do you think?"
"Why would you want to get off here when you have a ticket to Berlin?"
"It's complicated. You think I should get off?" She looked him directly in the eye, trying to proof that she was dead-serious. She needed him to make this decision for her. He seemed to get it and didn't even hesitate. "Nah. I think you should stay. If you get off now you'll always think of me as a perv and we can't have that."
She nodded, a small smile appearing on her face, but still a restless feeling inside of her. There were a few more stops before they left the country, so she didn't have to make a final decision right now, but…still.
"Okay. I'll stay. For now. Thanks."
She settled back into her chair and tried not to look outside as the train slowed down and eventually stopped.
"Sorry." She then said as she turned to Jesse.
"For acting like a total freak just now."
"That was you acting like a total freak?"
"Could've fooled me. All I saw was a girl in doubt for whatever reason."
"Yeah, well…story of my life really. The day I'll be able to make decisions on my own the earth will probably come to an end. It would be that shocking."
Jesse chuckled a little as Sanne reached for her bag and got her chap stick out. It was a thing she did when she was nervous or restless. She'd put on chap stick. So, that basically meant she did that a lot. From the moment she got up in the morning, until right before she went to sleep. She had chap sticks scattered all over the house, several in her jeans and jacket pockets and at least four in her bag. She looked up at Jesse who seemed to take sincere pleasure in watching her apply the chap stick.
"What?" She asked.
"Nothing. Just trying to figure out what the hell is going on with you." Jesse shrugged.
"What do you mean?" Sanne asked, not understanding as she put the chap stick back in her bag.
"Just…you seem to want to get out of the country and go as far away as possible, but at the same time you're scared as hell and the fact that you still have the option to just get off and pretend this never happened makes it even harder and I'm just wondering what reason you could possibly have for wanting to get away."
"I could ask you the same." She countered.
"Maybe I'm just traveling Europe."
"Maybe I am too."
"Or maybe I'm a convicted rapist who has fled the States and is trying to build a new life" Jesse joked.
"That would fit way better with the 'pervert' image that I have of you." Sanne nodded, contently as she looked at him and smiled. "How about we just make a deal?"
"What kind of deal?"
"That for the remaining part that we'll be on this train together, whether that is until the next stop if I decide to get off or all the way to Berlin, we don't discuss this anymore. It's pretty obvious neither one of us wants to talk about it, so it seems only fair."
"Alright. Deal." Jesse held out his hand, wanting to shake on it. Sanne hesitated for a second, then shook his hand. Their eyes locked for a second and she wondered how it was possible that someone she didn't know and who indeed very well could be a convicted rapist could make her feel that comfortable. Maybe it was because they both had their reasons for being on this train, but they both respected the other persons privacy. They had mutual respect. He didn't expect anything from her and didn't judge. He just let her be. She liked that feeling. It made her feel more independent. And independency was just what she needed.
"Last chance, I believe." Jesse suddenly spoke and it caused Sanne to look up. She had almost fallen asleep, but she now felt how the train was starting to slow down again. The final stop in The Netherlands. After this they would officially go into Germany, which would make changing her mind not at all impossible, because traveling home from Germany wasn't that difficult or expensive, but to her it felt that once they crossed the border it would be real. Then she really ran away from everything. Then there was no way back. For the past few stops similar conversations as with the first stop had occurred between her and Jesse in which she panicked and he stayed remarkably calm. However, he hadn't made any more decisions for her. He told her that she had to decide for herself, which was scary and something she didn't do a lot, so she kept putting it off and now it had come to the point where she really had to make the final decision.
She sighed and turned to Jesse with a desperate look on her face.
"I'm not making the decision for you." He told her off her look.
"I had no idea you were that evil." She murmured. "Did I mention the world will come to an end if I decide for myself?"
"You did. I didn't buy it."
"Boy, are you going to be sorry if it turns out I'm right."
Jesse didn't respond to that as the train finally came to a halt. People around them started to get up out of their seats and made their way to the exit. Sanne's heart was racing and she looked at Jesse in utter and complete panic. What was she going to do? She had to decide now.
"I've never traveled alone before." She said out loud for no particular reason.
"You're not alone now." Jesse said, calmly, obviously intrigued and curious to see what she would do.
"Well, then I've never traveled with a stranger before."
"We could get to know each other." His simple solution was, smiling. "Just decide, Sanne."
A silence fell as Sanne got her bag from the floor and put it in her lap. People were starting to come in now that had just boarded the train. She literally had seconds left to make the decision. Her brain was working overtime as she stared out the window. What was she going to do? Then they heard the whistle and two seconds later they heard the doors of the train close. She looked back at Jesse who smirked at her as the train took off.
"Look at that." He then said. "Looks like we're still here."
Sanne smiled as she sat back into her chair and sighed. "That's because I didn't decide."
"Looked like deciding to me."
"No. I just kept putting it off and putting it off until the decision was made for me when the doors closed. That's not deciding."
"It comes pretty close though. I'm proud of you."
She was surprised by the sincerity in his tone. He really meant it and she liked that.
"Also, I'm glad the world didn't end." He added, dryly.
She laughed and covered her face with her hands as she sighed before looking up at Jesse again.
"So I guess I'm really doing this, huh?"
"I guess so."
She nodded slowly as she stared Jesse in the eye.
"This is crazy." She announced.
"I'm sure it is."
"I usually don't do these things. I'm not this spontaneous. I just took a train to Amsterdam and next thing I know I was on this train."
"So you have no specific business in Berlin?"
"Nope. I just as easily could've taken the train to Paris…but that was way more expensive."
Jesse smirked. Sanne realized she was getting excited now. She no longer had an option, so now she just had to do this. It was scary and probably stupid, but just a small part of her felt excitement. It felt good to be adventurous for once.
"You know…" She started. "I probably wouldn't have stayed on the train if it wasn't for you."
"Is that a good thing?" Jesse asked.
"I don't know yet."
The unusual twosome smiled at each other.
"So does that mean we can now enjoy the rest of the trip without you panicking every time the train slows down?"
"Yes. My mind is made up. No turning back now."
"Good." Jesse smiled, looking her straight in the eye.
"Good." Sanne repeated, smiling right back.
A/N: So, that's how it all starts! I hope you found this promising. I'll update soon and can't wait to read your reaction!