She wouldn’t tell us any more details. Didn’t comment when Anders, trying to process the news, kept insisting that it was physically impossible for a woman to have overpowered Daniel. He was pleading with her to understand, almost as though he thought that if Nadja Johansson would accept what Daniel could benchpress, then she would see that it was impossible he had been murdered and so he couldn’t have been. She just let him rant, her eyes impassive, then quietly said that the investigation was ongoing and she would keep us informed as much as possible.
We were together all weekend, by silent consent. He knew I needed him close to me, and I felt like even somebody who managed to get Daniel to the ground wouldn’t try to take two people on, even if one of them gets shaky when she carries grocery bags with more than one bottle of drink in them up stairs.
We didn’t talk about everything, or even anything much, for the whole weekend, which was just what the doctor ordered. It wasn’t planned, as soon as Anders closed the door behind Johansson I waited for him to tell me everything she asked that I’d missed, but he didn’t say anything, just kissed me on the forehead and started to cook dinner. So I didn’t either, and then, as I sat at the kitchen table watching him cook – I love how he measures out spices with such precise concentration, like if he puts in one microscopic grain too much, it will ruin the dish completely – I suddenly started telling him this story of trying to cook a birthday dinner for some friends in high school and of course it was a disaster. He chuckled, promised again that he would give me a lesson sometime but right now he was too hungry, and with that we withdrew from the nightmare for a day or two.
We mooched, we pottered. We slept in, we watched a movie, we put up a couple of Thailand photos in frames and I put away a bunch of stuff from my suitcase that’s been laying in a pile driving Anders insane since June. For the first time in a long time I felt like I could see the clouds clearing a little, revealing a glimpse of a future beyond all this. Of course we both knew it was temporary, knew that at any moment there could be a development or the police could knock on our door, that one way or another we could only shield ourselves for so long. Even so I felt refreshed, and something I vaguely recognized as contentment, as we went for a walk on Sunday.
It’s cold, the temperature has seriously dropped the last few days and there was even talk of snow, but the day was crisp and sunny and fall leaves stiff with frost crackled under our feet as we wandered through the park near our apartment hand in hand. Anders talked about how he and Daniel and their school buddies spent Midsummer there when they were teenagers, how they once drunk a whole bottle of snaps between the two of them and had had a hangover for a week, but Anders’ had lasted one day less which made him feel the tougher and more grown up of the two. It was the first time he had mentioned Daniel with a smile in his voice, and I felt those clouds clearing further as I snuggled into him, suggested a hot chocolate.
Back in the very beginning of summer, when I hunkered down in a corner of Gilda’s with endless cups of coffee, I remember looking forward to coming there in winter. The dark, candlelit coziness clashed with the bright sunshine outside, and I looked forward to coming in from the darkness, stamping snow off my boots and being grateful for the warmth. There was no snow to stamp off last night, but as Anders held the door open for me I felt a blast of warm air thaw my stinging cheeks, and had a second’s flashback to looking forward to that very moment.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t fully click what I was seeing right away. I stood in the doorway and stared, and my brain went, “of course…” then it went, “no hold on a second…” then it finally grasped what was so wrong and I backed out the door before Anders knew what was happening. I told him I changed my mind, I just wanted to go home.
He never saw Tove and Malin in the corner, deep in conversation.