Not all mysteries are big. Some are small. Others are a mystery only to the person who finds them mysterious. I have a mystery, not a very big one, personal to me but a mystery nevertheless.
I’m of Dutch descent, my family coming across from the
My mystery wakes me in the night and is often my first thought when I awake, popping uninvited into my head at the most unexpected times. It’s bothered me since I was a child, since I first saw them both, brass and kissing, next to the windmill by the small sailing boat on the shelf of the pink tiled fireplace.
Who are the little Dutch boy and girl and what is their story? We all know them. They are everywhere. Sometimes they are on skates, occasionally they’re yoked and carrying buckets or baskets - but usually they are just leaning towards each other and kissing or simply standing side by side just like they were in my mum’s brass double bell. They look so happy, so suited.
My mum used to collect brass, laboriously shining it with Brasso and old ripped-up sheets every few weeks or so, her hands turning black, the acrid smell on the creamy yellow fluid hanging in the air. She had a lot of brass, her collection proudly displayed on the fireplace – shell casings from the First World War, horse brasses, bells, miniature warming pans,
I’ve spent years trying to find out the story of the boy and girl but all I’ve turned up is the boy who put his finger in the Dike and ‘Hans Brinker; or, the Silver Skates: A Story of Life in
Who are they? What is their story? Deep inside I think I know, it’s part of that memory I was telling you about – the windmills and grey open fields, the purple white clouds racing across the sky, skating on the frozen canal, my woollen cap, a girl in clogs. Often when I awake from my dream I still feel the ice beneath my wooden skates, hear the rip of my blades as they race, feel the icy air on my cheek. I pass the windmills and the empty fields and see the pretty face looking up at me from beneath the ice. I know their story, each and every word. It isn’t a mystery at all. Maybe I should write it down.