SHE TAKES THE last biccie from a packet of fake German Oreos and it crumbles to dust between her fingers and across her grubby keyboard, slipping into the crevices around the keys. There are several tabs about the dolphin man open on her screen. She picks up her laptop to try shake out the crumbs, grateful no one is about, but she is interrupted by a pack of local boys hammering their fists on the studio front window. Maybe ten of them, pulling faces and watching her like a zoo animal. She unlocks the door and they tumble in hollering, ‘Trick or treat!’ even though it’s only June.
They shriek a lot of words at once in German and Turkish. She understands one of the kids—a pudgy, maybe eight-year-old with a T-shirt that says BAD ASS above the number 23. ‘Was machst du hier?’ he asks, gentler than the rest. His sad moonface gazes up at the architectural blueprints pinned to the walls and the hand-painted rocks lined along the windowsill—but her German isn’t good enough to explain what anyone does here, what any of this is for. A few boys grab at a pile of musical instruments left from some performance—maracas, a cymbal and a little Casio—and shake and smash them about, air-guitaring with the Casio, then drop them, already bored, laughing as they run out the door and away.
She leans against the doorframe watching as they yell after one another up the street, half wishing they might come back. It’s hot out. A bus trundles past and sways over the pothole. Across the road, the middle-aged couple that smoke and drink all day are in their usual spot beneath the elm tree. On the wall behind them someone’s graffitied the words IF YOU WANT TO SPEAK ENGLISH THEN GO TO NEW YORK, snaking up to the door of a new café that has just started selling a delicious, cold-brew coffee for the summer.