He didn’t have a bike anymore, not after five got stolen, so they had to walk to her faculty on foot. Luckily nothing in this small university town was far. It was one of the first universities in Europe and now it was an odd mix of shiny commercial stores , trendy bars and renovated medieval buildings. In his student days he had loved it, now it felt like a party where you suddenly find yourself sitting alone at the bar after all your friends have left. He shook that thought away and focussed on Carol. They were bumbing into each other as they walked. Typical sign of people who are attracted to each other, but still feel awkward being around each other.

She was wearing flat and open red shoes, no socks. Together with the bright yellow pants and the white blouse it made her stand out. You had to have a certain x factor to pull off a combination like that. She had a black hat on top of her head to keep her curls from blowing into her face.

Pieter was silent the first 500 meters, afraid to say something stupid. He had a lot of trouble reading this girl. What was he to her? A trophy to show around campus? A gadget to show off with for a week and then toss away? And was she serious about having sex through others?

‘What are you thinking?, she asked while they were waiting to cross a busy street.

‘What do you mean?’

‘You look very pensive all of a sudden’

‘I’m not really thinking anything right now. Perhaps that I like your outfit.’

‘Come on. Be honest. What are thinking about? You look troubled’

The cars kept coming. He tapped her shoulder as if to soothe her.

‘It’s really nothing’

‘Are you feeling old?’

‘What?’

‘Are you feeling old now that we are out in public?’

‘No, no, no, not especially, no’

‘It doesn’t bother you that I’m 17?’

She was 17? God, he thought she was 18. How could she be 17?

’17?’

‘Yup. 17. Got my birthday coming up in december’

‘You’re a sagittarius?’

‘Uhu. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?’

‘The most philosophical of all the signs’

‘I’ve heard that somewhere’

Jim Morisson had said it during one of his live concerts.

They could finally cross the street. ‘Break on through to the other side’, was playing in his head.

On the other side of the street, she stopped and looked him straight in the eyes.

‘Look, I don’t want this to be some weird little fling. I don’t want to invest time in something that is going nowhere or that will end up in horrible heart break, ok? I’m 17, but I’ve been there, done that.’

‘I know, I know. Same here. I know practically nothing about you, but I want this to last. That’s why I made such a strange proposition yesterday. I mean, if you want to hopelessly squeeze out all the fun out of relationship have like 100 times of sex and then start hating each other because you need sex, but just don’t want to have it with each other anymore. And so on, check history of romance on wikipedia for sad details’

‘Look at me. I get it. I know what you mean. I don’t want to settle for any kind of regular boring life either. My parents have it for example. My mum tries all sort of stuff to compensate for her safe, orthodox choices. My parents are sweet, but my mum secretely yearns for more. I don’t want to yearn, I want to actually experience. Are you on board or not? Do you talk the walk?’

That last sentence she spit out in a comical voice as if she was impersonating some motivation guru.

In Pieter’s head a lesser known Jimi Hendrix song started playing. ‘Have you ever been experienced?’

The trouble with this girl wasn’t that she made him feel old, the trouble was that she made him feel like an inexperienced little boy.

‘I am very on board’, he said.

‘Good’, she said. ‘Now quit the frowning and start thinking constructively. What sort of sordid little sex scenarios did you have in mind? Hold nothing back, act as if you’ve known me for 1000 years and have zero secrets for me’

They walked on, holding hands now. He pictured her as the reincarnation of some Egyptian sex Goddess or something. This girl could not possibly be the result of a mere 17 year existence. He took a deep breath to catch her perfume and allowed himself to smile.