By: Emily Engberts
A brand new teacher at the local primary school, a woman taking care of her mum’s book store, two hearts who believe that love and relationships aren’t for them.
Kara moves to her favourite island following the job offer of a lifetime, become a teacher at the only primary school the island has. It’s like a dream come true, live on the island, go on long walks with her dog Tys and teach, all in one neat package.
But when she spots the beautiful woman at the local book store, things might get a bit more complicated.
Taking care of her mum’s store for a few months is exactly what Lin needs. A couple of months away from her old life and to become a face in the crowd at one of the island’s stores. Speaking fluently in three languages may not be her best skill, but keeping track of inventory and doing stock is definitely right up her street.
Her first week at the store has almost come to an uneventful ending, until a stunning woman walks into the store and smiles her way.
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and when Kara comes in for crafting supplies to make cards with her class, Lin makes a bold offer. How hard can it be to spend an afternoon making cards with a group of kids when she has no experience with teaching or making cards? There’s no way Kara will find out, right?
“Be careful!” I watch as Sanne takes a big box full of things from the back of the small truck I’m renting for the weekend.
“I am.” She looks my way, her eyes shining, like she’s trying to hide a smile. “You’re just worrying too much.”
I sigh and grab another box from the stack. We have to move all my furniture and other things in one go, since I only have a parking permission for the island for two days. Schiermonnikoog is a car-free island, and while some residents have permission to have a car, very few people actually have one. This makes it a great island to stay at, but it does make things like moving a little more complicated. Luckily, I was able to get a car permit to move my things, just as long as I didn’t keep the van within the city limits too long. Today I’m just moving the boxes and big things and then Josie and Sanne will take the van back to the main land tomorrow, and anything I’ll still need after that I can either take myself or it can just be sent here by mail, whatever works.
“Anything you want me to carry for you?” Josie, my best friend for years, is standing next to me, grinning, somehow she seems to find joy in my stress.
“Yeah, this one.” I give her the box before grabbing a new one myself.
Just two weeks ago, I heard back from my job application to be a substitute teacher at the primary school on Schiermonnikoog until the summer, and now I’m moving into my own place on the island so that I can actually teach here. How time flies, I never imagined that it would all go so fast. Of course, when I applied I knew it would be very soon, but I never expected it to go this fast.
I follow Josie into the building and up the stairs. I’m in a small apartment over a shop. It’s very clean and new and while not very big, it’s definitely big enough for just me and Tys, my dog. I don’t need much space to live. And if this thing turns into more, if they want to keep me after the summer, I can always look for a bigger place then.
I put my box in the kitchen area, before I go down the stairs again, getting the next box. We need to hurry up, the people here don’t like having random cars in the street, and I kind of expect someone to show up at any moment to ask why the car is there. That, and the busses that bring people from the ferry to the town and the beach all need to pass here and they don’t like the van in their way either. I kind of feel bad for leaving it out there, but there isn’t another place where we can keep it while we’re moving everything.
We’ve just got the dining room table and a few other big things left now, like a new couch and my bed, not many small items in boxes anymore.
As I reach the van, I catch Sanne frowning at one of the boxes in the van that’s part of the couch.
“Too heavy?” I step next to her.
“Yep. But now that you’re here, we can do this, I think?” She smiles my way. I’ve known Josie for years, but she only recently started dating Sanne, so I don’t know her very well yet and we’re still trying to get to know each other. But I get why Josie likes her, she’s sweet, and she makes everyone feel like they’ve known her for years already somehow, she’s always got a smile and a kind word ready for everyone.
“We can try.” I pull myself up into the van and look over the box, it’s really big and very clunky, which is probably why it’s so hard to carry. Then I push at the box and Sanne grabs the other end. “Is it too heavy?”
She shakes her head. “I’ll be fine.” I can see her brace herself as I push more of the box out of the van.
Then I quickly get out and we pull the box out the rest of the way so that we can carry it inside together. It really is heavy… I know that I put the box into the van yesterday, but I got help from Josie then, and after carrying all the other boxes for the last hour or two, I’m not as fresh anymore as I was when I put the box into the van in the first place. This is just the first of three boxes for the couch.
We carefully manage to get the big box up the stairs, put it down in the living area which looks out on the street below through some beautiful double doors, and I slump down next to the box after we’ve put it down.
Josie comes from the bathroom and grins as she watches us. “And then we’ve got to put everything together still.”
I groan. Yeah, that’s going to be fun, not. I’m not looking forward to that part of moving, but I’ll have to do it since I can’t do anything around the house until we’ve put everything together.
“Let’s finish unpacking the van, and then have lunch before we put things together.” I shrug. I’m already looking forward to relaxing at the end of the day, I’m so done with moving. but at least I get to have my own stuff in this apartment. I don’t have to move into someone else’s stuff, I don’t have to move into a house designed by someone else, like so many rental apartments these days or like a holiday house. I’ve got my own things and that’s a definite bonus. The downside is having to actually move everything…
I push myself off the floor, standing up. “Okay, let’s do this!”
* * *
Sanne drives the van to the ferry while Josie and I are walking the dogs and picking up some lunch. We didn’t take anything with us to the island, we didn’t want to pack even more, but there is a fresh bakery close to the supermarket and we bought some nice dark bread at the bakery and then we picked up some cheese and other things at the supermarket. The fridge is in place and currently cooling so it should be usable in the next few hours.
It’s strange, moving to the island. Not just the moving into a new house or anything, I’ve done that often enough, but moving into basically a totally different culture. The stores here are closed earlier than in the city, you don’t have as much choice in food and such at the supermarket and I still feel like I’m here on holiday, even though I’ll be starting classes in just a few days, on Monday morning. But having come here for holidays for years, it’s strange to get into the ‘this is my home now’ mindset, to switch from being here on holiday to really realising that I’m now living here.
When we get back the apartment, and Tys and Bente have raced up the stairs, I look at them with a smile. I do have to admit that the idea of being able to just step out of the house and walking right into the fields or reach the beach in just a short time is an amazing feeling.
Sure, Josie lives on the edge of the city and she can step out into the fields at any time she likes, but she doesn’t get the beautiful dunes or forests, or the sea that I can just walk to at any time that I want. She doesn’t get any of that, and I think those are extra perks that make this a very special place.
Not just being able to walk out onto the fields, but to actually be able to go to the sea, or the mudflats, and spend hours there on my own, with Tys. Of course, I’ll have to work and that will take a lot of time too, but all in all, it’s an amazing prospect, I think. It’s exactly what I’ve dreamed of for years, even if I never thought this was possible or if this is just temporarily, it’s still amazing.
“You want fried eggs for lunch?” Josie is standing in the kitchen, hunting through boxes. “I see that you’ve got an induction unit here, so I don’t know how well I’ll do on the eggs. I’m sorry in advance.”
I laugh, walking over to her. “Yeah, I think a fried egg for lunch in this cold weather is great. The frying pan should be in one of these boxes, and I’ll set the rest of the table for when Sanne gets back.”
Josie checks her phone. “She should be here soon. She just messaged that she’s on her way back.”
“Okay.” I nod, opening a box, hoping to find plates, but finding cups and mugs instead. Not the right box. I should have labelled the boxes… It takes me two more tries before I get to the plates, though, I’ve found a frying pan for Josie, so that was good too. I grab the plates and cutlery and set the table, carefully walking around Tys and Bente, who are somehow constantly running after each other. They’re so excited about the new place that they’re not able to sit still at all, even after just having been on a walk. They’re silly like that, but it’s also fun to watch them together. They’re from the same litter and Josie and I have spent a lot of time raising them together. We’ve always been really close and this is the first time since university that we’re not living twenty minutes away from each other, that’s going to take some getting used to. I’m sure.
As I’m setting the last things on the table, Sanne is already back, grinning widely, her cheeks all red from cycling here, or just the cold, I don’t know. Bente and Tys greet her enthusiastically, jumping all around her, trying to get her to play with them.
Being here with Josie and Sanne makes it feel like this isn’t real yet, that I’m just here on holiday or something, that this isn’t the big change in life that it really is. It’s strange how unreal this still feels, how strange. But I think I’ll get used to it soon enough. I think…
I better, because it is real.
* * *
After lunch, we put together the couch and then all slump down onto it.
Josie keeps looking around. “You know what you’re missing? You need something on the walls. It’s too bare.”
“What do I need to put on the walls?” I look at them, but they seem fine like this. A little empty and white, but that’s okay, right? They don’t need to be full of things.
“I think you need a map of Schier on them, get some colour in the room. And it’s helpful too, makes it easier to decide where you’re going to walk, you know?” She’s grinning, like she’s got some plan.
“You just want to go shopping in those small stores…” I glance at her. It’s not a bad idea. Putting a map on the walls will probably make this room a little homier, even just so I can look at it and remind myself that this is really happening. “Okay. Fine.” I sigh. “Let’s go.” I stand up and the dogs are around my feet immediately, excited to get moving again. “Yeah, yeah. We’re going outside, I promise.”
“Yes!” Josie grins as she also gets up. “You know, it’s different if you live here and aren’t just here on holiday. Those small shops are now your local stores.”
I raise my eyebrow as I look at her. “I live here. Not you. I’m not sure how much you going to those stores means that they’re ‘local’ to me.”
“Same difference. They’re still cute.” She shrugs, pulling Sanne along with her. Josie can be a little bit odd sometimes, but whatever. That’s usually half the fun of being around her.
“I’ve not seen them much yet, at least not in the last couple of years.” Sanne looks like she’s trying to look innocent, but I can still see her grin. Yeah, no help there. None at all.
“Fine. Like I said, we’re going.” I put my shoes on and then wrap up warm. It may not be snowing anymore, like we had at the start of the year, but it’s still really cold, being the end of January and all. Maybe not the best time of the year to move here, as the island is much more beautiful in spring or summer. But any time of the year is a good time to move to your dream island.
I put the leash on Tys and he immediately starts walking circles around me. “Just wait a little longer, impatient boy.” I grin as I grab my bag.
When everyone is ready, we go down the stairs, to the street below and then take a left onto the main street. It’s not very busy, but that’s what I like, like this, you can really see how beautiful the island really is.
And isn’t that why I wanted to come here anyway?