It struck me over the weekend that our apartment looks exactly the same. Anders’ kooky storage boxes and my pile of random crap from my suitcase I’ve never got around to putting away. The photo of us from Thailand is still pinned to the refrigerator The bookcase crammed with Anders’ intellectual books, the bed we never get around to making, the space age kitchen where Anders cooks cordon bleu and I make coffee.
But we are so changed. Even once this is over, the killer caught, the mystery solved. Even once we get on that plane and leave Sweden behind, sit on a sandy beach with the Pacific lapping at our toes, get jobs, hell, get married someday, have a family – we will forever carry this with us. Hanna. Daniel. Jenny. Their absences will always be present.
And who else?
It was sometime on Saturday night, I think. We were lying, side by side, wide awake, when Anders said he was worried about Tove. She went back to her mother’s last week, said that she would contact us when she was ready but she needed to be alone for now.
“There is a chain,” he said quietly. “Jenny was best friends with Hanna, Hanna slept with Daniel… Daniel was together with Tove.”
I sat up, propped myself against the wall, my heart racing suddenly. It was like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, suddenly I saw everything more clearly. That’s the thing with being in the middle of it all, you look at it one by one, day by day, and don’t see the pattern staring you in the face. But Anders did. It’s their group of friends.
“But the chain could go two ways,” I pointed out. “Daniel was together with Tove – and Daniel was best friends with you.” I reached for his hand in the darkness. I know it was stupid, he was right there, but I needed to feel like I was holding on to him. He shook his head.
I felt a stab of irritation. “You think you could fight anybody off? Like Daniel did?” He flinched and turned away, and I felt bad but in that second was more scared for him than worried about his feelings. Tove is miles away. Anders is here, right under the nose of whoever is doing this.
“What about the farmer?”
“They must have thought he saw something,” Anders replied.
“But the police talked to him weeks ago. If the killer was afraid of him speaking to them, why wait until now to kill him – it would be too late.”
Anders ran a hand over his stubble, shrugged. “Maybe they don’t think so clearly. They are a killer, they are crazy. Or maybe he is not connected, his death is for some other reason altogether.”
I nodded slowly, didn’t say anything for a while as I thought it over. If the police training academy of CSI has taught me anything, the farmer’s death isn’t a coincidence. It’s connected, we just don’t know how yet.
I shouldn’t have asked them if I needed a lawyer. The two police officers exchanged looks, like, “what?” They weren’t interrogating me, they weren’t accusing me of anything, they were just questioning me, trying to figure out the same connection that we were. I sounded like a paranoid moron. One of them gave me a kind of patronizing smile and said I was welcome to call one if I wanted, but that we were done and they were just going to give me a ride back to the city.
I almost said no, I would rather take the bus, then I realized that would make me sound even more like a weirdo, so I sat in the back of the car watching the lights of Stockholm approach as the two officers chatted in Swedish.
When the car pulled up outside or apartment, I happened to glance at my watch and noticed that it was almost the exact same time the taxi pulled up at the same bit of sidewalk the night back in June that I arrived in Sweden. And I remembered the bright sunshine of that night, and felt the deep darkness of this night. As I keyed in the code to open the front door, I saw a taxi drive past and had to resist the urge to flag it down and tell it to take me to the airport.