The Y-files [GL]
Crêpe Mikado: Pancakes with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce
Crêpe Suzette: Pancake with ice cream and orange sauce. Often flambeed with Mandarine Napoleon.
Dijk: The tourist road next to the beach in Belgium is called “Dijk”. You can follow almost the entire Belgian coast if you walk it down. Dijk translates to dike or dyke, so I mean no offense and am not referring to a person when I use the word dyke in this chapter.
Interlude: A second chance (2/3)
After taking care of my wound, Bernie left me, so I could change my stockings in peace.
After that, I made my way back to the front of the store. I wanted to pay, but apparently, Bernie had already taken care of it. I felt a bit guilty about that, but at the same time, it made me feel treasured. After all, we were on a date, and she was clearly treating it as such.
Now that we got out of the store we could really start our date. I mean the date that Bernie had planned.
“Our train is in ten minutes, let's go Lisa. We should go to the platform.”
When we got to the platform, I noticed we were taking a train toward the coast. A direct one. “Let me guess. I think we are going to Ostend.”
“Well, that one was easy seeing as this is the platform for the direct train to Ostend,” Bernie answered with a smile on her face.
I started laughing. “That sure is a trip down memory lane. What was the last time we went there together?”
I noticed Bernie grimace at that question. Then her face changed back into a smile and she said “It was the last time I saw you before you got together with your husband.”
“What a memory you have.”
That must have been one of the last times I saw Bernie then before she came back into my life after Louis passed on.
Luckily for us, the train arrived and broke the uncomfortable silence I had created with my question. I was wondering what had happened back then to make her grimace so hard. I had very fond memories of that trip. We went to the aquarium and played on the beach. I remember having a good time. She must have had a good time too, because why else would she choose Ostend as the destination for our date? Even though I was a bit puzzled, I decided to let it go. Today I should only focus on the positive things, for Bernie.
We talked a bit about Claire and Anna, and about Frank and Emma, and Bernie told me a bit about her struggles at work, while we were heading off toward the coast at ultra-high speeds. My eyes became bigger and bigger when I learned she put her career on the line to protect Claire. I was lucky to have a friend like Bernie. I would certainly do the same for her if the need ever arose.
When we finally arrived in Ostend after our two-hour train ride, we decided to head straight to the beach. After all, it would be a shame to come all this way and not see the sea. It was still too cold for swimsuits, and the like, this time of the year, so we went for a little walk before lunch.
We removed our shoes and socks so that our feet could touch the water. I always loved the feeling of touching the sea with my bare feet. It made me feel connected to the whole world.
I noticed 2 beautiful blue shells and picked them up. I told Bernie to wait for a bit, I looked in my purse, to find exactly what I needed. A needle and a piece of thread. I pierced the shells and made two necklaces from the shells and put one around mine and one around Bernie's neck. I giggled. “Something to remember this day by,” I said. Bernie did not really react, so I thought it was probably too childish for her. I turned my head away. I started to apologize for being silly. After all, we weren't teenagers anymore. But Bernie stopped me right in the middle of that and said “No, I am happy. I was just a bit speechless. You always do those things so naturally.” Then she pulled me toward her, put her arm around my shoulder, and took a selfie of the both of us wearing our necklaces.
“Another memento for us,” she said.
Bernie looked really happy with the picture. I decided to take her arm and nuzzle my head against her shoulder for the rest of our walk. I always felt safe with Bernie next to me. Even though I was doing my best to make this date work, I felt like Bernie was maintaining an emotional distance in which I was not allowed.
Bernie led us back toward the Dike. She led us to a little tavern for lunch. When I sat down I looked around the place. “I don't believe you. You remembered!”
This was the place where we would always come to eat pancakes back in the day. I do not know their secret, but they used to have the best pancakes ever. Maybe I should bring Claire here one day, now that I knew it still existed.
Bernie smiled and said “I was surprised too. Since the owner was so old back then. But her daughter took over. They claim their pancakes are still made in exactly the same way.”
“I think I will be the judge of that.” We both laughed.
When the cute pink-haired waitress came to our table, it was like another trip down memory lane. She looked exactly like Suzy, the waitress from back in the day. We used to hang out a lot with her on the beach.
Bernie ordered a crêpe Suzette Flambé for me, a crêpe Mikado for herself, and a bottle of apple cider. “If we are going to compare, we should order the same as we always did,” she said. I always felt a little thrill when Bernie took charge like that. It made me feel protected. In a sense, it gave me a moment of liberty, since I didn't have to decide anything for myself.
The waitress took the order to the back and immediately we heard some stuff fall, and some stumbling.
A woman around our age then popped up from the kitchen. “I knew it! When she told me we had old customers, combined with that order, I knew it could only be Bernie and Lisa. It has been way too long!”
I took another good look at the friendly woman who clearly acted as she knew us, and then it clicked “It couldn't be.” Bernie and I crossed our eyes, nodded, and both shouted “SUZY!”
I stood up and embraced her and gave her three kisses. Bernie did the same.
“I had no idea your parents were running this tavern. I always assumed you just had a temp job here.” Bernie said.
“Why do you think I could always take time off when the two of you came around?”
Well, that made sense... “ While you wait for your orders we can talk. I want to know how life has treated you, girls. Who knows how long it will be before we see each other again. Sam, come meet these two.” The waitress that took our order came back over. “This is my daughter Sam. Sam, these are two old friends of mine. Bernie and Lisa. We used to hang out at the beach all the time. Those were the days. The three of us used to be hot stuff back then.” Sam was clearly embarrassed, imagining her mom as hot stuff. “Don’t say stuff like that, mom!” The three of us laughed at Sam's embarrassment.
We started talking about how life has treated us. I explained that my husband had died, that now I was running a brasserie in Brussels, and that I had two kids. I told her all about how Bernie had saved me, and that without her I would not be where I was today.
I noticed that Bernie grimaced several times, while I told my story. Even though she did her best to hide it.
“I'm sorry to hear that Lisa. You never know how life is going to treat you. To be honest I am a bit surprised at your story. I always thought the two of you were an item.”
Bernie coughed and spilled her drink. I immediately went to help her with a napkin and made sure she was alright.
“See, that is what I mean. The two are so naturally attuned to each other. It seems weird to imagine the two of you not together.”
I noticed that Bernie was really uncomfortable with the subject. Personally, I did not really mind. We were always together back then, so it did not really surprise me people would see us like that. Back then, I was so used to having Bernie around that I did not even consider the possibility of it being more than friendship. I decided to change the subject because this was a conversation that the two of us should hold in private.
“Well, enough about us, how about you. I see a beautiful daughter, so tell us more.”
Suzy told us about the fact that she got pregnant on a one-night stand, and had decided to keep Sam. “Best decision of my life,” she said. She had kept on living and working at her parents' tavern so she would have the necessary support to care for her daughter. She had taken over the tavern when her parents retired. “Sam is a great girl, but she should go out more. You said you had a son, didn't you Lisa?”
“Ah, that might not be a bad idea. Frank could use a girl to set him straight.”
“Mom! Stop trying to pawn me to a bloke you never met!” Sam interrupted us.
“I am doing this with your best interest at heart. You should get out more! Enjoy life!”
“You just want grandchildren!”
Bernie and I couldn't hold our laughs at that conversation. Suzy looked at us puzzled.
“That was the exact same conversation you had with your mom the day we met you for the first time. She forced you to go to the beach with us.” Well back then we did not know it was her mom. But now it all clicked.
Suzy's penny dropped and she started laughing together with us.
Soon after that, Sam brought us our crêpes and Suzy left us to our date, after exchanging line contacts with Bernie. Bernie promised to pass it on to me as soon as I got my phone charged.
We started eating pancakes. They were indeed just as good as I remembered. A perfect crêpe Suzette. But the best part was yet to come. I cut off a piece and presented it to Bernie like I always used to do. She looked a bit embarrassed but then took the bite. I could see the bittersweet bliss on her face.
She then eagerly returned the favor. I happily took the piece of crêpe and let the taste spread over my tongue and let out a little moan.
Back in the day, we had decided that these crêpes were best if you ate a Suzette right beside a mikado. Chocolate and orange were the perfect bittersweet combination after all.
When we were done I noticed a bit of chocolate sauce hanging on Bernie's cheek. “Don't move Bernie.” I scraped it off with my finger and put it into my mouth. “It's bad to spill food. You gave me no choice.”
Bernie seemed a bit shocked at what had just occurred. Was it that bad? We used to do stuff like this all the time. I heard Bernie mumble something like “Don't fall for the straight girl trap.” to herself. No idea what that meant. Weren't we just having fun?