Writers Abroad Magazine 6 May 2017 - Page 4

WRITERS ABROAD MAGAZINE: THE THIRD SPACE SUMMER HOLIDAY BY BIEKE STENGOS Year after year, we set off for the seaside in Zeelandic Flanders, where tiny country houses have names like children’s games. Our father stuffs our baggage, all six of us and our mother, in a VW Beetle. I can’t breathe one gasps, get your elbow out. Children, children, quiet now and, before long, we melt into one another, singing songs and counting other VW bugs as we drive through ribbons of Flemish villages and then reach the border, where Mother points our attention to Dutch fields that stretch out forever—hey, don’t push me— and hints of urban activity at the horizon. We are in Zeelandic Flanders. Familiar—we share a language— yet so different because we don’t share a religion or a government. At the cottage, we six take over the large space under the roof. Mother has her own room, where Father joins her, on weekends. The rest of the week, with the first light of sun, we crawl into her bed, and force her to dig out from an avalanche of affection. 3 | MAY 2017