I woke up under a bridge passage to the last rays of sun and a cool breeze. She was staring down at me with those big brown-green eyes. I sat up and stared back at her. She wore a frayed yellow dress and no shoes, her hair was tangled and her nails were dirty. Were there street children in Ghent? What did she want from me?
I looked further at the bars and restaurants and got up. She held my arm and gently shook her head no. “But I need help.” She kept a firm grip. “I need to go home.” I checked my cellphone and confirmed what I suspected, it was dead. I didn’t know where I was and I didn’t remember grandma’s address by heart. Now this strange kid tells me not to ask for help. I had to talk to someone, but somehow I was drawn to her.
“What’s your name?”
“I’m Luke.” I said, placing a hand on my chest. “Uhm… Naam? Luke.” I tried.
“Nice to meet you, Hanneke.” I stretched out my hand. She shook it. Hers was much softer than I expected from a street kid.
Night fell quickly and the old houses and street lights reflected on the water. We stood under the bridge and nobody seemed to notice us.
“So, do you live around here?” I tried making a roof over my head with my hands.
“Nee.” She said and looked away.
“Where do you live, then? Why are you here?”
She didn’t say anything.
“Look, it’s late and my parents must be looking for me. I’m going to find a police agent somewhere and tell them I’m lost. Bye, Hanneke.”
“Kom.” She pulled my hand and ran. I ran after her.