Proving that the universe has a sense of humor, this morning I received my letter from SFI telling me that I can start a course in two weeks.
I considered tossing it in the garbage: we could be on our way out of here by then, but something made me tuck it into my diary. Just in case.
Sweden hasn’t exactly welcomed me with open arms, and a big part of me is excited to leave this whole sorry mess far behind us, to get back to the familiar and easy and straightforward. Like I said before, I’m not exactly a card carrying ‘Murica patriot, but the thought of going grocery shopping and actually being able to find everything I want to buy has me a little giddy.
At the same time though, a little part of me is disappointed. Of course this situation and what Anders has been through is extreme, it’s not the same as just giving up because I can never find the friggin’ onions in ICA, but still I kind of hate slinking home with my tail between my legs, never having gotten a chance to make a life here. Maybe I never would have anyway. Maybe Sweden is the Sunday New York Times crossword of lives: only the very patient few have a shot.
I’m focusing on the wrong things, as usual. Anders deserves a new life every bit as much as I do, and if moving away is what he needs to be the happy, easy going, good humored guy that I met in Thailand, then this is what we will do.
But we have a job to do first. Yesterday, I decided that I would go to see Torsten von Rais the lawyer, and make sure there was nothing more I could know about the investigation. I didn’t tell Anders; he was planning to meet his boss and see if he could get back to work, then have a coffee with Daniel. I felt like he needed to do that, and I kind of wanted see Torsten alone, so that I could get a proper measure of him (I didn’t pay that much attention when we met before as I was so focused on Anders) and hear and take note of anything we needed to know without worrying about it being hard on Anders to hear.
I got off the bus outside the Royal Dramatic Theater, and walked to the little sidestreet where Google maps told me the office was. Then I broke into the first smile I have felt in weeks. My friend from the kayak kafe, Wearing Way Too Inappropriately Small Swimming Shorts Guy was wandering towards me, his guitar case slung over his shoulder. He greeted me with his usual puppy dog enthusiasm, and for the briefest second I needed to blink tears away at his bear hug. I asked about the other staff and our regulars, and heard all about the kayak club’s insane end of season party. For a few brief moments I felt human again, like I was trapped inside a toxic swamp of grief and police and secrets, and, for a second, poked my head above the surface and could breathe in a little clean air.
I realized that I was going to be late for my appointment with Torsten, and promised that we would catch up again soon, then he said, “before I forget, your friend came looking for you some weeks ago. You weren’t working but she didn’t want to leave a message with me.” Hanna, I thought immediately. What if she had given up on Anders coming clean and was going to tell me herself?
I pulled out the free newspaper I had picked up on the bus, which had a headshot of Hanna and a photo from the memorial on the front page. “Was this her?” I asked. He said yes, and I nodded, feeling a lump harden in my throat at the thought of having missed her. Then he pointed to the photo of the memorial. “That one.”
He was pointing at Tove.