I have promised this on Facebook and some other social media already: once I have translated the first chapter of the first book about Kobie, I will post it here, so people can let me know if they want to see more of it.
In other words: would you like a complete English version of this story?
Let me know, either in comments, through the contact form or any other form you fine palatable!
I’m not dumping the chapter in here just like that. If you want to avoid seeing it, simply don’t click below. Otherwise… do it!
“Jesus, Kobie, what’s taking you so long?” Dick, Kobie’s dad, looked at his wife, slightly despairing. He hoped she too would urge their daughter to come to a decision. They’d been in the book store for over fifteen minutes and still Kobie hadn’t decided which of the three books in front of her she’d buy. “Why not buy all of them?” was his wise suggestion.
“I can’t afford all of them, Dad, and my bookshelf is almost overflowing.” Kobie sighed. Why didn’t Dad understand this? “You don’t just drag a bunch of books together. You consider them until you understand them. This is something else than soccer, Dad.” Things like these were life-influencing decisions for Kobie. She’d found three new books about witches and witchcraft, and they all looked fascinating. All she needed was a little more time. They didn’t come here that often. Their own little town did have a bookstore – she had a job there – but this bookstore was something else.
Evert, Kobie’s younger brother, pretended to be reading a comic, sitting on a box. He intentionally held the comic upside down and had fun because no one had made any remark about that yet. “It’s not so much that she can’t decide, Dad,” he said, “it’s just that she can’t read so fast. She only made it to the title of the second book.”
Kobie turned towards him and pointed at her brother with a book in hand. “I want you to shut up. You don’t even know how to look at pictures.” Of course she’d seen he was holding the comic upside down.
Then something fell on the ground because a young child ran past a table. Kobie looked. “See, that’s what you get rom that,” she muttered, as if her brother was to blame for it. She walked to the book that had fallen down and picked it up. “Oh…”
The title of the book was “Witch’s Training”. It looked frighteningly expensive with its leather cover and the almost worn, gilded letters. The book also was quite a tome. Curious, Kobie looked at the back and read, “A comprehensive guide for the witch in training and they who want to become one.” That was all. And there was a price label – and that was surprising too. The book was even affordable!
“Kobie, did you find anything worthwhile? It’s getting late, girl, and we still have to go back hom.” Even her mother was getting impatient now. That was always a bad sign. With pain in her heart Kobie looked at the three other contestants on the shelf. She would love to spend more time with them, but this leather-clad book felt so good in her hands that she decided on the spot.
“This one.” Without another look at her brother, she carried her new treasure to the cashier. “No, don’t wrap it!” Kobie was surprised by the fire in her own voice. “I’ll take it with me the way it is.”
The shop assistant had stepped back by Kobie’s exclamation. “Sure, if that’s what you want. Here’s your change.”
Carrying her book under an arm, Kobie followed her family outside, where it had started to rain. “Damn, I should have gotten a bag after all,” she muttered as she tried to protect the book from water damage under her coat.
“No, don’t wrap it!” Evert laughed as his imitation of Kobie’s voice made his voice falter. “You’re such a weird human. You just proved it.” Kobie would love to hit him but she feared that the book might slip.
“Evert. Stop teasing your sister,” their mother said. “Just be relieved she finally found something. Oh, look, there’s the bus already.”
On the way home, in the rocking bus, Kobie opened her precious, new book and started reading. Reading was her favourite occupation. So much favourite even that she’d missed the bus stop closest to home more than once. This time however it was safe to read, because her parents were there to warn her. That of course didn’t mean the journey would go peacefully, because Evert was with them.
“Kobie! Look!” Evert managed to distract his sister’s reading far too often. He knew exactly how to take advantage of her amazingly curious nature. At least that’s what Dad called it, and he had old-fashioned ideas and values. Kobie thought of it as being very interested in her surroundings.
By the time the family left the bus, Kobie was convinced she’d bought the best book ever. This wasn’t about witches and how they had lived in the past, or about the spells they might have used. This was the real thing! This book talked about everything she’d longed to know for so long. The background of being a witch, the implications of magic and witchcraft, and most importantly, she’d already spotted a chapter with spells and rituals on how to become an actual witch. Deep inside Kobie knew that all of this wasn’t real, but her dreamworld (which was much closer to her heart than the stuff hidden deep inside her) told her this was real. This was what she’d been looking for, and today it had fallen on the ground with a loud thud. Almost in front of her feet.
“Goodness, will that rain ever stop?” Mother Gerrie shook her head and wished they’d brought umbrellas. “We’re going to get wet again.”
“Not Kobie, Mum,” Evert said. “She already knows how to do magic. I think she’s already memorised that book. Hey, sis, can you use a spell to make me dry again?”
“I could slap you with the book,” Kobie threatened him. It was something she’d never do. Imagine she would damage her book.
“Kobie… Please…” Her mother wasn’t pleased hearing these things come from her daughter’s mouth. Evert didn’t really mean all that. “Come on, keep moving or do you want to get soaked?”
Once they were home, the wet coats were distributed over the bathroom where they could dry. Bathrooms were designed for wet things so that was only smart. Kobie went up to her room so she could change in dry clothes because her pants had gotten wet through. Once changed and comfortable, she sat down on her bed, leaning against the pillow she’d propped up against the wall. The big book, “Witch’s Training”, was on her knees…
The bedroom door opened. “Kobie? Are you joining us for dinner? We called up the stairs three times already…” Mother watched her daughter who seemed to be entranced by her book. “Kobie?”
“What? What? Oh!” Kobie startled when she suddenly noticed that her mother had appeared in her room. “What’s the matter?”
“Dinner. Food. Remember what that is?”
Kobie looked at her watch. “You could have shouted…” It was her usual response to this reproach. Her mother shook her head and looked up at the ceiling, as if to call on some deity for mental support. With a bit of pain in her heart Kobie put the book aside. “I’d better not take this with me…”
“Indeed. You know how your Dad doesn’t like to see books at the dinner table,” her mother said. “Come on, let’s go downstairs before we need to reheat everything.”
“Okay…” Kobie took a deep breath before she got up, then followed her mother. This book was everything she’d hoped for. It had it all. This was becoming her bible. Her witch’s bible.
“So, did you fall asleep?” Her Dad knew better but he had to throw in his usual joke.
“We heard you snore all the way down here,” Evert added to his father’s words. He ducked as Kobie walked past him. His sister often had this desire to slap him over the head, and also this time he barely avoided it. Their parents tried to keep the conversation going, but Kobie’s thoughts were constantly with the remarkable book. Evert missed most of the talking as he kept looking over his shoulder as not to miss anything on television. It was the usual way dinner went in the Ketelaars household and no one had a problem with it. After dinner Kobie tried to get away quickly. It didn’t work. It was her turn to clear the table and wash the dishes.
“Why don’t we have a dishwasher…” Her complaint came up once a week at least, as she stacked the plates.
“Simply because the kitchen’s too small for that,” mother said. “We talked about this a few times before.” Actually it had been dozens of times. “But I’ll help you, don’t worry.” She always did and Kobie loved her mother for that. She couldn’t stand the hot dishwashing water, and those rubber gloves felt horrible.
After the dishes Kobie could escape again, but before she had left the room Evert asked, “Did you like it?”
“If you don’t shut up right now I’ll turn you into a frog,” Kobie retorted. She pretended to cast a magic spell onto her younger brother.
“Bwahahaha, failed again!” Evert laughed far too loud, as usual.
“Just you wait,” Kobie threatened him as she stood near the door to the hall. “One day I’m going to get back at you in a way you can’t even imagine…” Without waiting for further comments of her brother, she disappeared into the hall and walked up the stairs to her room. In her room the world was all right. That was where the book was waiting for her.
Soon Kobie was completely lost in the sentences that someone had written down. It felt as if the book had been written solely for her. Everything she had ever wanted to know about witches was in here – and more. Things she could never have dreamt of. Her eyes scanned the strange spells and curses that she whispered as well as possible, in silence. Every new page was a new adventure, a new treasure trove, the lid of which she effortlessly magicked away.
She was shocked out of her reading when someone knocked on the door. It was her mother. “Kobie? Oh, you’re still awake. I thought you had really fallen asleep this time. We have tea and coffee, are you coming?”
“No, Mum, I’d rather stay up here and read.” Kobie carefully patted the page she’d been devouring.
“Are you certain, child?” Kobie stayed up in her room very often, but her mother asked anyway. “You need to drink enough, child.”
Kobie smiled. When Mum said it that way, it wasn’t too bad to be called child. “You know… I’ll come with you. I can read downstarts as well, and I would like some tea now you mention it.” She slipped off the bed, picked up the book and followed her mother down the stairs.
Evert and Dad were watching television. It was some game show Kobie couldn’t find interesting if her life depended on it. The two were so engaged that Kobie almost regretted her decision to come downstairs. She did stay, if only for her mother who’d been happy about her coming along. Damn, she should have brought the earphones, she realised. With those in her ears she wouldn’t have been bothered by the two in-house contestants to the show.
“Shuttus uppus,” Kobie mumbled. After all, she’d read in the book that Latin spells worked best. Too bad that the spell to silence her brother didn’t work, but then, she’d never really learnt Latin. That was going to be a difficult task.
The evening passed Kobie in a haze. She automatically drank her tea while she ate the book up with her eyes. What an incredible find this had turned out to be. There were three pages she kept returning to. So far, those three pages were the core of the book to her. They talked about the most important things she’d have to know, and tonight she was going to try them.
“Hey!” Something was tugging at her toes. The something was Evert, who was slowly pulling a slipper from her feet. “You are so lucky, little man,” said Kobie. “Without my iron self-control you’d have gotten a kick by now.” Even Dad had to laugh about that remark; Kobie’s lack of self-control was was famous all through the street, except when ice-cream or books were involved.
“Mum already said three times that you have to go to bed, witch face,” Evert said. That of course wasn’t true, but he jumped on any occasion to call his sister witch face. Besides being a pain in the ass, he also was smart enough not to wait for his sister’s response. He rolled out of her legs’ reach and laughed. Too loud as usual.
“You’re an annoying little monster,” Kobie declared. “I’m going to bed.”
“That’s smart thinking, Kobie,” said mother, “the more if you are really going to sleep.” She knew her daughter. Kobie was able to read all night through and then, in the morning, she’d be in a really foul mood.
“Uh-huh,” Kobie replied in a diplomatic manner. Sleep all night? With a book like this? Never! She put her slipper back on, got up and wished everyone a good night. “Except the pest there. I’ll treat him to ice cubes in his neck tonight.” Everyone knew that was an empty threat. Kobie would never do that, even when her threats often were very creative.
“Oh, I love you too, sister dear,” Evert said with a sweet little voice. That too evoked some laughter, even when everyone knew he really meant it. Despite all their bickering, brother and sister were good friends.
Kobie went into the hall and closed the living room door behind her. The book felt comfortable in her hands, despite its weight. Or perhaps even because of it. “Am I going mad?” she asked the book. “It’s as if I can’t let go of you.” To try that she went up the stairs, put the book as far away on a bookshelf as she could (there was barely any space but she managed it anyway) and then went to brush her teeth. “See,” she mumbled while brushing, “I can do without that book just fine.” As long as she knew where it was, but she didn’t want to say that out loud. Evert could be listening in, after all.
Back in her bedroom she pulled a towel from her desk drawer. This was her reading weapong. She stuffed the towel along the bottom of the door, so no one could see there was still light on in her room, which would be a clear sign she was still reading. With a satisfied smile she took the book from the shelf, made herself comfortable in bed and opened the book…