The Children and the Witch – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilisation and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

“You wanna Jeans?” shrieked a faceless woman as we sauntered down the aisle. “Hello T-shirt!” barked another, as an anxious looking man abandoned his shoe stall to expertly step in front of me. “You like shoe, many shoe, hot brand cheap shoe best price”, he said, barely even looking at me. “No thank you” I smiled, moving around him.

“This place is huge!” cooed S, the two of us stopping to get our bearings. Nearby a doddery old German couple, the dictionary definition of Born Yesterday, handed over 800 RMB for a woollen jumper. The seller, hardly able to keep a straight face, literally snatched the cash out of the man’s hands.

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The Good, the Bad and the Naughty – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilization and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

“Good afternoon Krista, how are you?” I chirped, bouncing into the classroom. “I’M FINE THANK YOU, AND YOU?” came her robotic reply, a standard response so ingrained she hadn’t even looked up from the hairband she was twiddling with. For Krista the conversation was now over; her duty done; any answer I might have to how I was actually doing completely inconsequential.

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Camp America – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilisation and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

It was a warm, smoggy Beijing morning as we boarded the bus at Dongzhimen, taking our place among the throng of fidgety hopefuls. There were about fifty of us in total and even at that early stage I got the distinct feeling that as Europeans, S and I were heavily outnumbered. Zac from Oregon had packed a sweater in case it got cold at night. Steve from Philadelphia was wearing a new pair of sneakers fresh from a Beijing market. And Sandy from San Diego was flashing a picture of her nephew around, a chubby little thing wearing nothing but a diaper. Everyone agreed the photo was awesome.

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Car Crash Girl Part I – a short story from Belgium.

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In the autumn of 2004 I found myself suddenly relocating to Belgium, at the expense of an attractive job offer in Italy. It was one of those major forks in the road, the kind of big decision that could transform a life. Which, for better or for worse, is exactly what it did.

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“Get out of here!!!” screamed Lucie, slamming her fist down on the kitchen counter. “I’m starving, I need to eat, I can’t deal with anything until I’ve eaten!!!” Grabbing my coat, I made for the door, determined not to look back at her as I left. We’d only been living together for a week and I was already getting used to the tantrums. This time I didn’t need to see her wild eyes and flushed cheeks, or indeed the curls of saliva that formed at the sides of her mouth when she was angry. As attractive as Lucie undoubtedly was, seeing her in one of these all too frequent moods was not a pretty sight.

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