Viktor&Rolf – spice bomb, ELLE Nederland, june 2013, pg. 35, Photographer: Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matador, Model: Sean O’Pry
Gentlewoman spring and summer 2013, pg. 31, Photographer: Alasdair Mc Lellan, Model: Juliette Fazekas
H&M, VOGUE Nederland, december 2012, pg. 38, Photographer: Mikael Jansson, Model: Laetitia Casta
When they arrive at the beach, it’s different than Line expected. This was supposed to be a cheerful climax that calmly settled everything back where it belonged. Line and her legs would be united again, and she and Wouter would be back together too. The sun should be out for that, at most surrounded by a few tiny clouds. Not wet mist. And definitely not crashing waves, tugging themselves upwards on fierce gusts of wind. “All right, Lin, let’s rock the boat,” Wouter says, reversing the car and backing rapidly and precisely into the slot. Line inhales deeply, smelling his fresh shampoo through a failed pine-scented car freshener. “OK, whatever,” she says, mainly replying to her own insecurities. “With or without?” Wouter asks, nodding towards the wheelchair on the back seat. “Without,” Line says; her tone sounds more challenging than she had planned. This is going well, she thinks, even as she forgets again what she’s actually here to do. “And with or without clothes?” Wouter asks cheerfully. “I’ll take off my dress on the beach, where there’s more room,” she replies.
The status quo for Line the last few weeks has been to be carried around. She had discovered to her surprise that unfolding a wheelchair generally took more time than she had (weren’t those things supposed to be user-friendly?), so when she was in a hurry, she was dependent on the strong backs around her. When she went to the systems therapist last month, her father carried her like a baby through the halls of the mental health institution, below the hideous lights. She felt safe cradled in his angular embrace. Once she had been set on a chair in the therapist’s office, she automatically let her strong father speak, reducing herself to a living reason for the talk. Exactly the right attitude to provoke the therapist. But the more he frowned at her, the softer her voice became. And the stronger his admonitions, the less clearly she understood them. In the end, it was her father who cried and her mother who asked the harder questions. Line concentrated on the view, a busy stretch of motorway.
Now she’s lying in Wouter’s arms, as he carries her down the stairs from the car park to the beach, curling up like a baby seems out of place. She tries to imitate a bridal scene, pressing her head against Wouter’s chest, her long brown hair blowing in her eyes. Wouter gives a mediocre performance in his role, sighing as he stumbles to the beach and dumps Line a bit too roughly on the sand, not far from the edge of the waves.
He had been enthusiastic when Line showed him the diagnostic report. “Like I thought,” he mumbled as he read it. The platonic version of their affair was starting to frustrate him, even though he had imposed it himself after the accident. Line was too beautiful not to touch, so her legs’ return would suit him perfectly. He had hoped for a conversion disorder, and had even come up with a verbal chain of events to explain it. Subconsciously, Line had talked herself into her own paralysis, and so convincingly that her legs had faithfully gone along with it. As he explained it, Wouter used so many complicated words that they turned everything into truth. He also had a theory about why the disorder had occurred. He articulated with excessive precision as he talked about her minimal sense of responsibility, the accident, her inability to communicate boundaries, their broken relationship. And his hairy hands made waving motions as he explained how the sea would help her. Necessity would make everything fall into place.
Without announcing his intentions, Wouter starts undressing Line. Her breasts are shrivelled with cold; her purple bra is loose in spots where it’s usually too tight. “Dipping, bobbing, diving, Alfred is always striving,”Wouter sings confidently, pulling her dress over her head. The sea is approaching rapidly, the surf line catching up to them. Line tries to find a good one-liner, but nothing comes to mind. She imagines she’s Wouter’s rag doll and only has to move along with his game. She nods her head woodenly up and down in time to his singing as Wouter takes off his own clothes.
The water is unpleasantly chilly. Leaning on her arms, Line props herself up. Wouter grabs her legs and pulls her several metres into the water. A salty wave slaps into her face and she feels around futilely with her hands, trying to find the ground to push herself up. Before she can panic, the current pushes her above the surface. “Now you’re going to do it, Lin,”Wouter cries; his voice is high and he lets go of her legs. The next wave crashes over her aggressively and the water rushes in through her nose. She uses her arms to push herself upwards. “Do you feel it yet?” Wouter shouts an encouragingly rhetorical question. As she coughs up water, Line tries to feel cold, water or necessity in her legs. Or at least a desire to swim to Wouter. Isn’t there something tingling in her lower left leg? And does she feel a nerve twitch in her left foot? Or is it the thought of a feeling? And what makes thought different from feeling? “Maybe,” she ventures, as the next wave washes over her.
Story by Jetske van Heemstra
Marie Claire, may 2014, pg. 6, Photographer: Mario Sorrenti, Model: Carolyn Murphy
Giorgio Armani, Gentlewoman spring and summer 2013, pg. 9, Photographer: Mert Alas & Marcus Pigott, Model: Saskia de Brauw
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
I want to tell you that I’m standing at the window. As often as I can. I couldn’t tell you what I’m looking for, or what I’m waiting for, but I can say that I’m standing there. At first, when you were only just gone, I taped off my window with duct tape. It sounds a bit childish, but I didn’t come up with the idea on purpose; it just happened. I covered the windows in tape from top to bottom, like a camera lens cover. It was a help. It helped that I couldn’t see the tree that keeps growing and growing, where two doves return every evening to sleep side by side on a branch. It helped that I couldn’t see the cat lying on the chair, how it slowly licked itself clean and closed its eyes, or the traffic light at the intersection, where there are people who wait patiently and people who want to move on. I could not see a tram, no cars, no buses, no taxis, no ambulances or cyclists. I couldn’t look at the sky, at the bats that flit past the window when it gets dark, or at the water that lets you see what the weather’s going to be. I haven’t seen tourists kissing, no people fighting over money or over someone else; I didn’t see the woman who hugs the traffic light at night or the kids desiring each other or breaking each other to pieces against the fence under the dim glow of the streetlight. I couldn’t see how the sunlight shone in on the wooden floor in the early morning, how it left shadows on the wall. I saw nothing. No water, no bridge, no people. I didn’t feel like seeing the things I could see alone. To miss you beside me, your voice making up a story to go with it, as if we were watching a silent film together and you were telling me what I saw. I did not see anything without you. I want you to know that.
You said we were fighting a delaying battle. “It exhausts me,” you said. Because you no longer wanted to sleep together in my bed – it would make things even more difficult – I dragged the mattress into the living room, where I put it on the floor in the middle of the room. “It’s not the same as a real bed,” I said. “We’re moving the view.” We lay under a wool blanket; I felt the way your cold foot scraped along my leg and we looked at the sky, at the clouds flying by. “They’re really moving fast,” you said. “In your mind those things are always going slower.” I thought about the delaying battle and felt tense. I didn’t have the courage to say anything; I kept quiet for a very long time, listening to the honking and the revving car engines, but in the end, I spoke anyway: “You know what it is?” You turned your head towards me; your forehead looked bigger than I was used to. You looked at me and waited. “You know what it is?” I repeated. “You’re like a room without a window.”
You didn’t even ask what I meant; you kicked off the blanket, got up and left immediately. You said something about not having deserved it and:
“This is the worst thing anyone has ever said to me.” I said, “Sometimes you need terrible things. Otherwise it stays the way it is.” “You’re crazy,” you said. “Think about it. Take a moment to fucking think about it.” I shouted that you could sometimes be the one who should think about it. “If it were up to me, nothing is wrong.” I shouted: “Asshole” and “fraud” and something about good luck and the rest of your life and about other girls.
Now I’m standing here in front of the window again, I want to tell you that I removed the duct tape, like pulling a bandage off a wound. The tape pulled all the dirt with it; I can see more clearly than I did before. I’m looking out at the intersection again. A bus filled with tourists drives past once an hour. It’s a red double-decker. The bus drives slowly and seems far too big to make the narrow turn across the bridge. Sometimes it has to wait for the traffic light. I look at the tourists sitting in the top deck of the bus. They don’t look at me. They’re not looking at anything; they’re just gliding past. “Here I am,” I whisper softly. “Here.” I put my hand up and wave. No one waves back, but even so: it’s still a farewell.
Story by Maartje Wortel
Dior j’adore, VOGUE Nederland, december 2012, pg. 2, Photographer: Patrick Demarcherlier, Model: Charlize Theron