“I was so angry with him.
He was there when my first girlfriend cheated on me and he saw how it tore me apart, and we always said that it was the worst thing you could do, that we would never, ever cheat on anybody.”
Anders hunches over, like he is so drained, so exhausted, that his bones have gone weak and he can barely support his own head. His eyes are dull, his eyes stricken, and I’m scared. I don’t want to be here, I’m so in over my head. I can’t help, I don’t know how to deal with this horribleness. This isn’t what I signed up for.
“I wanted him to deny it, to explain why Ida got mixed up, or she lied, how Tove misunderstood — when I arrived a the apartment I was almost happy because I had convinced myself I was about to laugh with him that anyone could believe something so stupid.”
He runs a shaky hand over his stubbly chin and I notice that there is still the tiniest smudge of blood on his finger. A wave of horror washes over me and I grab his hand, partly so he won’t see the blood, and partly to have something to hold onto so that won’t drown. I find myself stroking his hand, running my finger over the callouses, and there is a weird comfort in the action. He stares into space a long while before continuing, and I’m suddenly aware of my own heartbeat filling my ears. I put my thumb on his wrist and I can feel his pulse. We are both alive.
“He didn’t answer his phone all day, and so I went to their apartment to talk to him. I took their key so that if he wasn’t home I could just wait. We used to do that all the time.
Before Tove moved in, we used to say were roommates four blocks apart, I would get home and he would be in the kitchen eating my food or if I remembered he borrowed something I would just go and get it.
One time I finished my shift at maybe three in the morning, and he had a DVD of mine I wanted to watch. I unlocked the door and walked across to where I knew it would be in the darkness and I was so tired I didn’t notice until I was almost back out the door again that he was there, on the couch, with a girl. They were both staring at me, this very bold and specific thief, and I saluted them and wished them good luck. Daniel told me the next day he tried to convince her she had a hallucination because he was so good in bed.”
He flinches and closes his eyes.
“It’s such a cliché that I thought he was sleeping. I saw him sprawled on the floor and I thought he was so wracked with guilt that he lay down on the floor, and I was angry because I knew that there wasn’t an explanation, that he was destroyed because of what he did to Tove, and I went to him and I shook him. That’s when the blood –”
He breaks off, he is actually gasping for breath as the memory hits him. I rub his back, bury my face in his shoulder. “I’m here.” I whisper.
“The police lectured me for disturbing the body. They kept asking why, saying didn’t I understand what I had done?”
He turns to look at me, and I almost shrink back from the horror in his eyes. “I was just trying to wake him up.”