Monday, April 27, 2009


Their home was close to the south mountain. It was not a high mountain though it had a ski-jump. But it blocked out every ray of sun from September to April.

Even so, they had a lovely, open garden. Redcurrant bushes stood near the house, then there was grass and at the back was a scruffy tangle of birch saplings and prickly resinous spruce where the magpies clattered until mamma went outside to shout at them.

Many years ago mamma had found an empty bottle in a paper bag in this tangle. After that, when anyone saw neighbour Oskar's black beard in the distance, they stayed indoors so they wouldn't have to pass him in the street or say hello to him. No-one now remembered whether his wife had run away or died.

With Inga-Britt she found in the skräp the thrown-out sprays of birch that mamma had cut from these very saplings. (She brought them indoors at Easter-time and put them in a vase, then hung them with the fox, the witch, and other ornaments of spring, and soon they put forth tiny green leaves.) At that time the tapestries of groom and season still lay face-down in the snow. In a few weeks it became bright. Now it was summer. Now mamma took Anna's shoes and tied them in a bag in the cupboard near the stove, to keep until the autumn. Anna made sure that the knot was really tight, so no animal could decide to make its home in them.

A waft of cellulose blew in from the bay. It was dinner time. Anna, aren't you going to eat your potato? asked mamma. Pappa puffed over the evening paper. Don't mind it, wife. She'll eat when she's hungry. Anna felt a longing to go and see Inga-Britt's cat. It had just had kittens, but they might be drowned. If Anna could have had a kitten she could have fed it potatoes under the table.


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