Nadja Johansson stayed with me most of the weekend as I sat by Anders’ bedside.
We didn’t talk to start with; I told her firmly when she arrived that I didn’t have anything to say until I knew he would be okay, that I didn’t want to know anything either. I wasn’t interested in what was happening to Tove, I didn’t care about the whys and hows. It happened and it was over and all that mattered was Anders waking up properly.
They put him in a coma to protect his brain from the head injury, at least, that’s what I gathered from listening as much as I was capable of concentrating – which wasn’t much – to the doctor’s explanation. There wasn’t anything we could do but wait. They asked me if I wanted to call anyone to be with me; I almost laughed. Which of my girlfriends to call? Hanna? Malin? Tove?
But the nurses and doctors were incredibly kind, they almost acted like I was their patient too. Somebody brought me take out sometime late Friday night; I hadn’t realised I was hungry but inhaled it in about three seconds flat. By sometime Saturday, or maybe the wee hours of Sunday, once they told me that he was okay, that he was just sleeping, I started to get curious.
It crossed my mind that Nadja hadn’t hesitated when I mentioned Tove on the phone, hadn’t been surprised, hadn’t questioned me.
She had been suspicious of Tove for some time, she told me, and all but sure since Daniel’s death. Because they jumped the gun with Anders, the police had to be particularly cautious and have an airtight case against Tove before she got wind of anything, but were pretty much out the door to arrest her when I called.
It was the investigation of Anders that uncovered the first key: some months before her death, Jenny had made a complaint about a childhood friend who seemed to be unhealthily preoccupied with protecting her, to the point that Jenny herself felt threatened. She had withdrawn it a day or two later saying she had overreacted, but Nadja came across it while looking in to Jenny’s death: the childhood friend was Tove. This stoked her uneasy gut feeling about Tove’s witness statement and behavior in general following Hanna’s dead, so she started to poke around Tove’s past a little and discovered a history of obsessive protectiveness of friends – the real Shining Armor Girl. She hadn’t killed before, but it seems that Jenny’s accidental death had pushed her over the edge as she believed that she had failed to protect her. The rational part, the intimidating, practically perfect in every way, part of her of her locked it deeply away, but it was a ticking time bomb eating away at her until she snapped that night out in the stuga.
She will probably go to a psychiatric hospital rather than a prison, but she will spend a very, very long time there. Daniel’s family have stepped forward as guardians for the baby once it’s born. It’s not exactly a happy ever after, but it’s an ever after. I’m too numb to feel sad right now; I feel mostly relief. Relief Anders is okay, relief we know what happened, relief it’s over.
* * *
“I told her you didn’t need help.” He’s still kind of groggy, his head lies heavily on the pillow as though he is drained empty of energy, his hand rests in mine. But he’s smiling, his eyes twinkling in that Anders way.
“She was rambling on about how she was doing this for you, how you were falling apart and going crazy and needed her, and I told her that you were just fine. You’re a little bit crazy because you wouldn’t love me otherwise, but are stronger and braver than anybody I’ve ever met, and you are just fine.”
I lean over and kiss his forehead. He’s drifting off to sleep again.
I stand up, needing to stretch my legs a little, wonder if I should go get another coffee from the machine. There’s a knock at the door, one of the nurses probably, to check on Anders – but the door opens and it’s Thomas. Itsy Bitsy Teeny Shorts Guy. And with him, Nadine, the friendly German girl from the ex pats conversation group I went to a million years ago. They just heard about what happened from one of the kayak club who came across the blog, and wanted to check on me. I slip out the room quietly so as not to disturb Anders, and go to the machine to get coffee with my friends.