Moses and Yolanda are just an ordinary couple who find themselves in the middle of an ordinary life: they're fundamentally unhappy, and afraid to admit it...
Join them in their comic, heartbreaking struggle to discover what or who might make their lives real again.
Will it be Aaron van de Toren, the infamous "gadget-maniac" who befriends Moses, and whose comic antics belie his real schemes? Or will it be Prijs van der Tijdrit, the cyclist who ran Yolanda over, and now having lost his house, his job, and his family, returns for love. Or revenge?
There was a time when he considered himself a lucky man. He doesn't know exactly when or how he began to feel unlucky, but it’s as if he became anaesthetised over the years. Daydreaming and watching others embark on new beginnings, while he waited for some catalyst to come along and jump-start his real life. Waiting for that moment when he would say, Ah, this. This is what my life is meant to be.
And so, Moses thinks, is this it? Sitting in his company Bootwagen, watching the hospital exit, smoking and leafing through his wife’s secrets?
It is the oldest, quietest street in Assen—perhaps this is the attraction. A long, lazy stretch of brick beneath a canopy of century elms rustling in the breeze, an archway of calm leading to the sharp curve at the end that is the Asserbos forest. To stand in the center of the street and face east is to gaze straight into the vast ancient forest of the continent; and so, perhaps, to speed down this straight is to launch oneself backward in time.
And this they do. Teenagers, businessmen, real estate agents, housewives, teachers, farmers. A race, a shortcut, a Sunday drive. At top speed.
Within months of moving in, Aaron could feel the street's schism open him. Its quiet repose, its terrible cry. He hung banner signs from the elms: Langsamer Voor Onze Kindren (Slow Down For Our Children). He led campaigns to limit the street to local traffic. He built makeshift speedbumps of sand and clay, of asphalt, of crumbling concrete, all of which either disintegrated or were removed by the council.
One warm dusk night, Aaron and his son were crossing the street in front of his house. His son stopped to pick at a beer cap imbedded in the brick. When Aaron heard the car, he reached down for his son's shoulder. He found nothing. He turned to see a Saab rocket past his son's head. The driver, a worried woman in a suit.
Aaron found what he needed in a mail-order catalogue. When the package arrived, he rigged the radar gun in a tree in the straight-stretch, and the baseball pitching machine in the forest at the curve at the end of the street. In the radar gun he fixed a transmitter, in the pitching machine a receiver. He set the radar threshold at 50 kilometers per hour and loaded the pitcher, so that any speeding motorist would be welcomed to the neighbourhood by a ballistic farm-fresh egg to the windshield.
The clean, crisp klitch of impact made the sweetest sound. He watched from their second story bedroom window, savouring the speeder's expression, stunned by the incoming embryo.
Klitch, brakelights, quiet.
'Mrs. Medium,’ Prijs says, with difficulty. ‘I am deeply sorry for hurting you.’
Yolanda turns to the window. A silly man, if perhaps a decent man. Pathetic. She would give him a small nose. Big ears and black hair. Eyes close and narrow, like a rhino. Oil on board. Sure he’s got to get it off his chest, but what about hers? Why onto hers? Forgiveness, she hiccups, forgiveness, and holds a breath.
‘—You have to understand,' he says. 'I was so obsessed with time. I eat my cereal standing up and button my shirt and trousers and slip-on shoes while I chew. Chew! for heaven’s sake! I boil the kettle first so the tea can steep and cool to proper temperature while I wash, eat and dress. I shave in the evening, after the children are off to sleep. I even tried hypnosis to reduce my sleep. I spent six months training myself to survive on four hours sleep—’
The heat has passed and a chill runs over Yolanda's damp neck. The giddiness in her arms has boiled off. She lowers her heavy eyes and imagines strokes of wheated gold fields of black crows and wood beds,
'but now with this accident, I just wanted to tell you that something good has come of it. I have culled significant elements from my life, to spend time. I wanted to assure you that I am going to spend it, wisely. Do you hear that, Mrs. Medium? Time. The sound of time just ticking away. It's a gift, I believe. A gift.'