Hanna was reading. That’s what’s really got to me. Not Malin’s insane insinuations, I am treating those with the contempt they deserve, but when von Dursen told me that Hanna read everything I said about her and was feeling horrible, had asked him advice on how to address it with me and apologize for how she had come across, I just wanted to sit down on the floor and cry.
Guilt is a weird emotion. It is so strong, so insidious, that it can have captured you long before you notice it’s there, and then it’s too late to look objectively at where it came from. You’re in the rabbit hole, and you’re sinking, and you’re too focused on trying to clamber desperately towards fresh air to see what dragged you down there. Hanna’s last days on earth were spent feeling miserable and guilty because of me. Is that why I feel so terrible?
Of course it is. I feel childish and petty and stupid. I set out to write a diary of my impressions of Stockholm and my new life. I even started out being aware of keeping it anonymous, and then I got hurt so I got personal. Even then I thought about strangers reading my whining, I forgot that people I know, people I was writing about, also have access to the internet. I wish she’d gotten a chance to talk to me. Did she try, that afternoon and I was so caught up with Anders’ bad mood that I didn’t notice? If she had, would we have retreated to one of the bedrooms to have a big talk and hash everything out and she would never have gotten so drunk she made a stupid pass at Anders and stormed out to whoever was waiting for her out there?
She was worried about me, von Dursen said, because of what she read. Because I seemed so paranoid about teensy pointless little incidents she thought I was losing it, I asked. He didn’t know, just that she was concerned and was trying to figure out how to talk to me.
Then he said something weird which I just thought of now. Something about, ‘Jenny all over again.’ I didn’t ask what he meant, or even if he was saying it himself or quoting Hanna, because I was too focused on feeling like the worst human ever to walk the earth, but now I wish I had.
I at least had the presence of mind to ask if he knew anything about the threats Hanna had been receiving. He said no, and seemed genuinely bewildered. He’s an okay guy, this guy Tove and I casually discussed might have hired a hitman to kill Hanna to protect his inheritance. Weak, maybe, spoiled and kind of stupid, but he is clearly heartsick about his friend and almost bit my hand off when I said he might be able to help. He really fell for her, he told me. He wanted a real relationship and invited her to come on vacation so they could hang out and really get to know each other. She laughed and told him she wasn’t open to a relationship, but if he wanted to screw sometimes that was cool with her. I caught myself grinning at his pretty accurate impersonation of Hanna as he quoted her, and we both laughed.
When I got home, as I turned the key in the lock of our front door I could hear voices in the kitchen, and my stomach knotted. Nadja Johansson. I didn’t call her about the blog, and I felt a quick stab of irrational fear that she was waiting for me because of it.
But of course she was there to go over Anders’ account of finding Daniel’s body, for the thousandth time. They were sitting at the kitchen table, Anders ramrod straight, his jaw tight with tension, Nadja casually sipping coffee from my favorite mug. I went to Anders and put my hand on his shoulder; he glanced up and caught my eye with the briefest spark of relief.
The only sign Nadja gave that she noticed my arrival was that she switched to English. She asked Anders if he could remember anything more about when he left Daniel at the coffee shop the afternoon before, what time was it exactly. Anders frowned, looking exhausted as he wracked his brain for something he hadn’t already told her, and I snapped. I just wanted her out my home, and I told her to stop badgering him, demanded that if she was accusing him to come out and do it properly so we could get a lawyer and sue her. She said that she wasn’t accusing him of anything, that he wasn’t under suspicion.
She said that DNA had shown that Daniel was murdered by a woman.