A breeze of cold air rushed into the hallway as the front door was opening. A quiet thud followed as the door closed. Heavy breathing filled the square and narrow hallway. A click on a lightswitch and the hallway lit itself in a calming and dim yellow light. Footsteps started echoing through the hallway. As she entered the kitchen the air became colder.
“Goedendag!” said Flora.
The man sitting behind a kitchen counter reading a book twitched. Putting down the book he glanced at her and said warmly “Dinner is in the oven.” Opening the oven Flora asked, ”Kids…?”
“Are asleep”, quickly answered the man reading a book. “Was it stressful?”, asked the man quietly.
“I think it went pretty well,” replied Flora.
“So, what did you want to talk about? You said that we will talk about it at dinner,” said the man while still staring into the book.
“We need a new car,” said Flora with an assertive tone. The man put down the book, stood up from the grey bar stool and slowly and quietly walked towards the window. Peeking through curtains and looking at his beloved A3 being covered by snow he said, “No we don’t. It’s 4 years old and it's barely run in.”
“But we will in 4 months,” said Flora pointing at her pregnant belly, “You can’t even fit a 40x40 canvas on the rear seats of that car let alone 3 car seats. And what about the boot? We barely closed it when we were going to Luxembourg on a 5-day vacation. ”
“Ah, right,” said the man as he was breathing out. “But, there is still time, no need to hurry Flora.”
“Says the man who already designed the room for her, and ordered the most of the furniture”
“Okay, okay,” you are right, said the man, seeing he is entering dangerous territory. He walked to kissed her softly on the forehead and quietly said: “It’s getting late and you are exhausted, what if we continue tomorrow?”
“Leon, will you do the dishes?” asked Flora as she was leaving the kitchen.
Through the frame of the window comes the vibrant glow of a new day. The house is still asleep, but then a loud crying from one of the rooms upstairs. Leon rushes to the room at the and of the hallway he slowly opens the door as sees a crying child on the floor. After calming the child and putting him back to bed he went downstairs and made himself a coffee. He sat down in the winter garden. The backyard was covered with snow. Soon after a doorbell rang. It was a delivery. The box was big and bulky, but lite. As he was putting down the box on the table in the hallway, Flora ran down “Finally”, said Flora happily.
“Did you buy shoes again?” said Leon worryingly.
“It’s a painting. The one we ordered 2 months ago, that is supposed to go above the fireplace.” Leon stood in the hallway looking at Flora as she was opening the box. “It’s perfectly splendid,” said Flora as she was pulling it out of the box. Carrying the painting she turned around and entered the living room. She elegantly put the picture above the fireplace and stepped admiring it. Leon was standing under the door frame.
“The colours clash, pink-red and yellow on the same surface as primary colours just don’t work.”
“It’s ecologically sustainable modern art,” said Flora, still looking at the painting. “Anyways, I have to go,” She turned towards Leon, gave him a kiss, picked up her coat and exited the house, closing the door with a loud thud.
Night has settled, headlights lit the driveway as Leon was parking. Everything was still covered in snow. Flora was taking the kids inside. Leon was a step behind her carrying their weekly shopping. Just as Flora unlocked the doors she remembered that she left her laptop at the gallery. She left in a hurry because Leon and the kids were waiting for her. She looked around searching for the car keys. When she found them she yelled, “Leon, I left my laptop at work. I am going to get it.”
“Dive safe,” yelled Leon from the living room as he was covering Alexander with a blanket.
Flora sat in the car, the engine roared in life. She pulled out of the driveway and drove off. On her way to the gallery, she drove adventurously. When she arrived the parking lot in front of the gallery was full of luxury cars. Big black SUVs and sedans. She had a sudden burst of jealousy. She left the car next to the entrance of the building with the hazards on and quickly ran into the building. She went to her office, grabbed the laptop and headed out. When she was exiting she couldn’t help but notice that there were a lot of people in the gallery. Seeing a lot of people in the gallery she managed made her feel very satisfied. Opening the front door she heard a scream, she jumped. There was nothing to be scared of, it was just their eldest son - Matthijs. After the dinner, Leon and Flora tucked the kids in. They went downstairs into the living room. Leon dimmed the lights in the living room and sat down onto his Elba Armchair. Flora came from the kitchen with a boiling cup of Masala Chai tea. She sat down and started typing on her laptop. After a while, the typing noise stopped. Flora looked at Leon and asked “Black or White?” Leon gave her a confused look.
“Can you elaborate?” asked Leon calmly.
“Which colour is more glamorous, which gives an impression of wealth and prestige?”
“A white painting on a black wall gives an impression of prestige, but don’t overdo it with black. Rich brown or dark orange wo…”
“For a car,” interrupted Flora.
“Which car?” asked Leon with a high pitch.
Flora turned around the laptop. And there it was, a black Mercedes-Benz CLS 350.
“You know we can’t afford that,” said Leon.
“You are an interior designer who worked for some of the most influential people in Europe and I run a modern art gallery in the centre of Rotterdam. I think we can,” Flora's voice was starting to raise.
“Even though that is correct, you still can’t buy it. It only has 4 seats and I am not planning on staying home when you and kids go on a vacation. And, and the seats don’t fold as well,” said Leon with a grin on his face.
“Sigh, okay you are right,” said Flora with disappointment.
“Let's review our needs and wishes to see what kind of a car we actually need and want. Shall we?” Leon took a piece of paper and pen from the bookshelf, sat down once again and put the paper on his knee ready to write.
“I want it to look elegant, prestigious, perhaps sporty?” Flora looked at Leon as he was writing it down. Leon suddenly stopped writing.
“Those criteria are not realistic for a family car,” said Leon looking down at the piece of paper.
“I think you can find something like that. But, what do you reckon then.”
“Well Alex is 2 and Matthijs will be 5 in a month and since we are expecting, we need something spacious with a big boot. I really don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. CO2 regulations are getting more strict and we both travel frequently in the city centre, also fuel prices are climbing, something very safe… A big practical Insignia estate,” said Leon while staring at the painting above the fireplace.
“Ahh, you are so sensible, I want either something elegant or something flamboyant. I want it to look fresh and modern, with a degree of road presence. However, I do agree with you when it comes to everyday usability. Maybe one of those big SUV Audis?”
“A Q7?” said Leon while giving Flora the stare.
“Yeah why not,” said Flora with a neutral sounding voice.
“Oh God no, we are not running a drug cartel, besides that thing is probably longer than our driveway. Have you seen the size of it?! What about something sub-premium?” said Leon.
“Q7 represents modern and contemporary design and I don’t think it is too big,” Flora fought back. “Huh, sub-premium you say. I think I could settle for something like that. But, this is going nowhere,” laughed Flora
“Unfortunately,” said Leon with a smile on his face.
“Let's do it this way you write down what you think is important and find some offers and I will do the same. We have time,” said Flora as she was closing her laptop and sitting back covering herself with a blanket. “Shall we watch a movie?”
“We shall,” said Leon as he was putting down the paper and pencil. He stood up and sat on the couch with Flora.