Chapter 10:

Interlude: Reunion

The Y-files [GL]

Belgian Trivia

Beef stew in beer with french fries

Beef stew in beer with french fries is a staple in Belgian cuisine. You will find it on the menu of almost every brasserie and tavern that serves food, and even in some fancy restaurants that serve Belgian cuisine.

When I was 15-16 years old, I was experimenting with making beef stew because my mother's version was really terrible, she would always under cook the beef and refused to thicken the sauce.

I had an older friend who had an amazing beef stew. After putting some pressure on her, she told me her secret to what everyone was calling the best beef stew with beer ever: She was using wine instead of beer with a splash of cointreau. I don't know if she ever told anyone else but it is a nice inside joke we share every time I see her serving it, and hearing the reaction of people.

I added this anecdote just to show you that beef stew with beer is such a staple that people often don't even consider that it might not be made with beer.

Brussels North station:

One of the 3 main train stations in Brussels.

This station also has an exit to the Rue d'Aerschot in Schaarbeek. That street is famous for its brothels and is the start of the “Quartier rouge”.

Sandra's POV

How long has it been since I had been so nervous? I was really gonna meet Rosa. Who would have thought our daughters would be just as close as we were back in the day and that they would be the ones to bring us back together.

This was going to be the first happy thing to happen to me in a long long time. My marriage had been doomed from the start. That vile man just made me pregnant and that was all he ever did for me.

While I was in the hospital delivering Elodie, he had had a car accident while leaving the parking lot of a famous brothel. I thought to try and save our marriage for Elodie's sake, but not even two weeks later I noticed that that pig of a man was taking out large sums of cash at the north station in Brussels, so I did not have to wonder what he was up too. It was no longer possible to stay with that disgusting man. I had not even forgiven him for his last digression. And frankly I couldn't even remember what I ever saw in him.

But I was forced to stay in Brussels due to the divorce arrangement concerning Eline, so I could not move back to where all of my friends were. Because of that, except for a few colleagues and family, I had been isolated ever since and after all that I had had my fill of men to be honest.

I decided to make some beef stew with french fries for dinner. That had always been Rosa's favorite. I remember because it absolutely isn't a girly dish, we used to giggle at that.

I was humming while cleaning the place up a little, I couldn't make a bad impression.

I heard the girls coming home and giggling among each other. They sure seemed to be having a lot of fun together.

Suddenly the bell rang. I heard the girls running down the stairs, but they kept at a distance. They left it to me to open the door.

I swallowed and gathered my nerves. Questions were racing through my mind: “Would she still recognize me?” “Would she still know me?” “Would she hate me now?”

Only opening the door would answer them so I took a deep breath and opened the door in one big movement.

The woman in front of the door was facing the street and by hearing the door opening she turned around with a smile, but then it changed into a stupefied look.

“Wwhy are you here?”

She started crying and hugged me. This was not a cry of happiness? Why was she so sad? Was our reunion not a happy occasion?

She hit me several times on my chest, while she kept hugging and crying. When the sobs died down she looked up and said: “That was how it was for me since you left.”

I felt sadness and guilt come over me, my mistakes did this to my precious Rosa.

“I am sorry, I am so sorry. I made an utter mess of my life without you around. You know how I get when you are not around to set me straight.”

Rosa seemed to remember something and started laughing and then she looked me deep into my eyes and said: “Let us not make that mistake ever again.”

Now it was my turn to cry. But my tears were tears of happiness. I hugged Rosa tight. I was so happy to be reunited with her. I literally wished for this moment everyday for the last 16 years. Everywhere I went I started talking about her. She had been the only thing on my mind for years.

If only times had been different, I would have known what I realized much too late, things could have been different. But times were different now, and maybe it wasn't too late yet. I would definitely do my best to never lose her again.

I answered her, “Yes, this time let us stay together forever.”

At that point Elodie and Eline ran toward us and hugged us too. Elodie shouted with tears in her eyes “That was so beautiful!” Eline then added “We captured it all. So you can watch it again if you want!”

The both of us started giggling as if we were young maidens once again. Then I said to the girls:

“I want you to learn from what you witnessed today. If you have doubts in the future, remember this moment. If you don't understand what I am saying now, I am sure you will remember this moment when you need it.”

The both of them nodded as if I said something very meaningful to them.

“But I am being a bad host, do come in, Rosa.”

“With pleasure Sandra.”

We all went to the dinner table. Eline and Rosa cried out at the same time: “Ooh beef stew with french fries, my favorite!”

Elodie and my reaction was the same too: “Some things will never change!”