Tag Archives: Grimstad

Afterword

I’ve written a novel in just over a month and that’s a fact I’m quite shocked by. But I’m proud too and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the story as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
The fact that it got done on time is actually quite a miracle. I wrote this story under less than favourable living conditions in Lagos. And both food poisoning, a record high of mosquito bites and some other tropical ailments at times made the process rather irksome. Due to irregular power supplies which also destroyed two laptop chargers, I wasn’t always sure whether the episodes would be done on time.

The next step now, is to edit the episodes. Improve the language, get rid of inconsistencies and strengthen some of the weaker points. And when that’s done, I’m hoping to get this thing published.

A list of thanks are of course in order. First and foremost I need to thank my secretary Elisabeth who invited me to her home in Homborsund where she took me to all the places you’ve read about in the story. Elisabeth also helped with historical facts, proof reading and publishing the episodes when I had no internet access. Thanks too, to my people in Lagos who went to the market to buy new laptop chargers and generally made sure I was fed, hydrated and medicated,making it physically possible to write.

Nellevine, the house ghost in Elisabeth’s hous,in Homborsund for being the inspiration to the story needs thanks, or else, she’ll haunt me forever, in an unpleasant way I’m sure. I have felt her presence too. And I’m not the only one.I sometimes had the feeling she was feeding me the story and helping my circumstances, turning them in my favour.

Last, but not least, I would like to thank my readers around the world for getting hooked on the story and encouraging me to continue when I didn’t have the inspiration.

All the places featuring in the story are real, but I have allowed some artistic freedoms when it comes to eateries and other places in Grimstad and Kristiandsand. The characters as well as the mid-summer drownings are pure figments of my overly active imagination.

Episode 21. Bedside confessions

Bedside confessions
June 21st.

Sunday afternoon, I went to visit Gerda in hospital after having driven Arlette home. The BBQ had been nice. Markus had shown up and Daniel too. He was tall and handsome with blond air and friendly grey eyes. He hadn’t been able to take his eyes off Emma all night and whenever they’d got the chance, they’d gone inside together to carry things in or out.
Arlette had really enjoyed herself. She spoke to everybody and told the funniest jokes at the table. She had immediately taken a shine to Markus and Daniel, who had immediately taken a shine to her too.
Mica though, had been the real star of the evening. He basked in the constant attention he got. And Anita couldn’t believe he was the same dog who had just been moping around the week before. We had moved the party in when it got too chilly to sit outside. And the guests hadn’t gone until 1AM in the morning. Markus and Daniel had shared a taxi to Grimstad together. Without saying so, we all thought it was best like that. We had both just started dating. And having our dates over at the same time as Arlette was there was a little awkward even if both Emma and I were grown women.
We had made a bed for Arlette in another small spare room downstairs so that she wouldn’t have to bother with the stairs. The only person I wished had been there was Merete. Both Markus and I had called to invite her. But she hadn’t answered her phone to Markus, and to me she’d come with some excuse that she was tired and anyway had to work on the mid-summer murder installment for tomorrow. I thought she’d sounded rather snappy, but I had accepted her excuse, not dwelling on it any further.

What I hate most about hospitals, believe it or not, is the smell. It seemed to linger everywhere. Even in the reception area which somebody had tried to make look half decent with some flower pots and posters of famous paintings on the walls. It’s hard to describe the hospital smell. It’s not as if it’s strong or pungent, but it sneaks up into your nostrils and has a sort of depressing effect. Slightly sweet and clinical are the most adequate words I can use to describe it.
“I’m here to see Gerda Andersen,” I said to the man behind the reception desk. Even from where I was standing I could see he had the computer opened on his Facebook page. Meeting my eyes, he immediately minimized the browser and went into what I assumed was the patient database or register.
“She’s on the third floor in room 307, heart section.”
I thanked him and went over to the lift. I hoped nobody else was there. Either Sunday afternoon was the perfect family visit to the hospital day, or it was the day the family wanted to chill at home, feeling great, or not so great for having checked in earlier in the week.

I didn’t meet anybody as I entered the heart section. The nurse’s room was empty too. I found room 307 and knocked before opening the door.
It was a single room. Gerda lay on her right aside with her back towards me. I didn’t know if she was sleeping, so I went over and sat down on the chair beside the bed. I had brought a small pot of blue and white flowers which I put down on her bedside table next to a vase containing a few roses.
”“”Hi Gerda,” I said leaning over her.
At first she didn’t stir, but after what seemed like an eternity, she slowly turned her head and looked at me.
“I’m old,” she sighed. “I’m very old. I am tired.”
“You’re in great shape,” I said stroking her hand which was lying on top of the white duvet.
“You’re still a beautiful woman and Amund loves you.”
I don’t know where all the compliments came from. Perhaps it was seeing the old lady lying there, alone and vulnerable looking. Murderer or not.
“He didn’t die you know,” Gerda said and slowly turned around so that she could face me.
“Who didn’t die?” I asked.
“My baby. He didn’t die. But he was Amund’s baby and I was married to Nils. When he was a few months old, Nils started suspecting that something was wrong. That the baby wasn’t his, which of course it wasn’t. But Nils was very handsome, but he was violent. He used to beat me. Once, he beat one of his own children out of me. Amund and I, he had been in love with me since we were school children. But I hadn’t been interested. Not then. The lighthouse keeper’s son. But one day, one day we talked and the talking lead to more. And nine months later, I had a baby. I was afraid of what Nils would do when he found out. I knew it was Amund’s child. Amund knew too. I’d told him. We had carried on our affair.”
“But how did you fake you baby’s death?”
“Oh, it was easy. So easy.” Her eyes were looking at me and they were glittering in the white hospital light.
“Amund’s sister’s baby had died from crib death and Amund saw a chance for our son to get a good life and be safe for as long as it took me to get a divorce from Nils. So he went to his sister who, at first was upset by the request of taking in our son while I buried her baby as the son of Nils and me. But she did accept on the condition that she could adopt him. I was unwilling, but at the time, it was the best thing that could have happened. Nobody else apart from Irene’s own husband, a Swede who soon took her and our son to live in Stockholm, Irene, Amund and I knew about the swap. Because Amund had gotten the news on the same day. So the swap was easy. I cried and cried. I missed my son terribly and I’d had so many miscarriages before getting him. . And my tears were real. Nils told me to shut up and beat me until I cried some more. He said he was happy to get rid of the bastard who could impossibly have been his child. Then, Nils drowned. He didn’t kill my baby, but he would have done. And Nellevine knew.”
“How about Sven?” I asked.
“I loved him for a long time. He was my teenage sweetheart in fact. But then I found out about his affair. I was very shocked to find out about his affair. I thought nothing could separate us. And then he drowned of course. I knew Nellevine had it in for him. Dishonest man he turned out to be. It was after that, I got the mad reputation. But I don’t care really.”
“Who told you about Nellevine’s revenge?” I asked.
“My mother. Because the first one to drown was my father, the artist. After that, we moved back to Homborsund where my mum comes from.”
“I need to ask you this Gerda. Did you ever help Nellevine carry out her revenge?”
I decided that was the best way to ask. Did you kill them? Sounded a tad too forward and rude. I didn’t believe that the ghost was behind it but maybe it I played it like that, she’d tell me.
“Because if you did, I wouldn’t blame you.”
Another thing to say to make her talk. I felt a bit like a bad cop in an American detective thriller drama though, but so be it.
“It’s good to talk about those things you know. And you can tell me.”
Gerda shook her head.
“Nellevine doesn’t need help to carry out her revenge. Besides, why would I kill Sven? Arlette would be the one I’d wanna get rid of.”
At that moment a nurse came in.
“Time to take your medicine and get some rest Gerda,” she said. And turning to me, “I think it’s perhaps best you leave now. Gerda is weak and tired.”

“So your former step-dad was Gerda’s son?” I was sitting next to Markus on the sofa in his apartment. It was a nice bachelor pad which was kept clean and tidy.
“It seems that way.”
“So all the murders are pointing to Gerda except the first one. Of the ones committed here I mean.”
“They do,” I said slowly. Although she made a very good point. Why would she kill her husband whom she loved deeply and not his mistress?”
“She could be lying to you,” Markus said and got up. “Tea?” I nodded.
“I don’t think she was somehow. I can’t really say for sure, but I think Amund may be behind a few of those murders. Think about it. Her father’s mistress was the first one who got killed.” “So what of this Nellevine business? Do you think she is protecting someone?”
“Sure. Who wants to call out their mother as a murderer? But I guess she believes in it in a way too.”
I sipped my tea and sat in thought for a while.
“Amund has bigger motives too to have committed those murders,” I said finally. “In the case of Nils for instance, he had everything to gain. Gerda and he were having an affair; her loveless and abusive marriage to Nils wasn’t something she could get out of easily. I’m guessing he would have made problems for her if she filed for a divorce. And I am not sure a divorce would have been looked upon with friendly eyes back then either.”
“What about the teacher whoWO had killed the child? And what about the other murders,” said Markus. I see your point by the way about Amund.” He added and put an arm around my shoulders.
“The child could have been a friend of Amund’s. I’m not sure. As for other murders, I have a suspicion. But I need some time to prove it. Amund must have an accomplish. Someone who works with him. Because otherwise, how would his son have been hanged? It doesn’t matter how fit he is. I doubt he’d be strong enough to kill someone that much younger and stronger than him alone.””
He pulled me close and kissed me. “I know you will.” He said. “But it’s Sunday night. Let’s think of something else for a while.

Episode 20. The Lighthouse keeper’s son

The lighthouse keeper’s son
June 20th.

I was determined to find out what the mid-summer victims had in common. Apart from committing acts that could not be judged by a court. I needed to find the personal connection between the victims and those who had killed them. I had gone to Grimstad with Emma in the morning so I could buyby a cork board to hang up on the wall over the desk in my room. I had also bought a block of post-it paper and some drawing pins. Now I was back home and I’d just managed to fasten the cork board.
The first thing I did was write all the victims’ names as well as year of death on post it notes.
Helene Hansen 1925, Janne Olsen 1935,
Sven Mikkelsen 1955, Nils Matsen 1960.
I stared at the four names and after a while added
Pernille (Gerdasgerdas sister) 1945. I did not know her surname. And Eline Martinsen 2005.
I hadn’t really thought of my mum as being one of the mid-summer murder victims, both because it happened in London, and thirty years after the last murder by the Nellevine torch. But with all the new evidence that had come to light recently about my now deceaseddiseased stepdad and his likely blood relation to Amund and his family as well as the fact that it had happened at mid-summer, something I hadn’t really thought of, made me do it.

On the row underneath, I wrote the few facts I had about each person as well as questions I needed to find the answer too.
Mistress of painter who lived in Lillesand. Newly married with baby on the way. I wrote underneath Helene Hansen’s name. I had first assumed that Gerda meant painter, as in someone painting houses when she talked about the painter Helene Hansen was allegedly dating. But I also wanted to check out if she’d perhaps meant a painter as in an artist.
Accused of killing pupil Toretore. I wrote below Janne Olsen’s name. She had died in 1935. Had anybody been alive then, who was alive now, that might have known her? Or even been a friend of the deceaseddiseased boy. Grandma Arlette had been three years oldyear-sold in 1935, so she wasn’t likely to have known anyone. Gerda would have been ten at the time. So it was likely. And Amund too, but he would probably not be able to give me any valuable information. His daughter-in-law had eventually found Amund with the help of some other neighbour, a man whom I always saw outside working on his boat, two hours later. He had wanderedwondered off to Nellevine and he had let them walk him home without putting up any resistance. They had taken him with them in to Grimstad to stay with them until they knew what the situation would be with Gerda.

Dead by hanging herself. I wrote under Pernille’s name. I put a question mark on purpose since I really struggled to believe that a girl in the spring of life would do such a thing. Merete had mentioned something about the lighthouse keeper being a Petrus Henriksen. Were any of these children alive? Or perhaps grand-children? It was a well-known enough story that descendants of Henriksen and his son should know about it. If not from their own parents and grandparents, then most certainly from others. Homborsund wasn’t the biggest place in the world and rumours probably spread fast. (Trace Henriksen’s descendants,= I wrote.

Death by drowning, on way to see mistressMistress Arlette Johnsen. I put under Sven Mikkelsen’s name. But apparently the weather had been bad that day, so couldn’t that have been an accident? I decided to call Arlette to ask if the weather really had been so bad that day.
Accused of killing baby. I wrote next to Nils Matsen’s name. That was in 1960 which was… I gasped, but laughed as soon as the thought entered my head. If the baby had been alive, it would have been fiftyfive years old today. Could it be that Christian Home, Karl Lund had been their baby? He had been a few years younger than mum. But then, why did he looks so much like Amund? I don’t even know where the thought came from, but it refused to let go, so I wrote it down with three question marks after.
I didn’t know what to write underneath mum’s name, because to understand why she died, I had to understand the previous murders and who had committed them. I was getting more and more sure however, that she had been killed and that her murderer had been her husband. But exactly why, I couldn’t really put the finger on. He had seemed like a perfect gentleman in the beginning before he started turning strange. But then, he wasn’t the first man who had tried to kill his wife seemingly out of the blue. I’d once seen an interview with the wife of an ex-army officer. Her husband had tried to murder her and her children by putting explosives in the car. But they had survived with major injuries. She never really talked about why he’d done it.
And then, there was his own death only two days previously. Who had done that? And why?
I wrote Christian Holm 2015. No (no mid-summer victim, and pinned it up with the note Why? underneathUnderneath.
I also wrote Sven Mikkelsen Jr. and Crib death? With a question mark underneath.
Finally I wrote, frank Mikkelsen 1986 and disappeared underneath.

I sat on the floor staring up at what I had written. How many murderers was I looking for? And would they somehow be related? One was clear already. I got up, and but a red X next to Christian Holm’s name. But he was dead as well as being a murderer. The question was, if I was looking at someone related to him. I paced up and down the room, until I decided to start from another angle. The victims. Maybe that would give me a better idea.
I decided to start with the newest murder and work backwards. I’d be stuck if I tried to find out who murdered a woman 90 years ago since that person likely would not be alive today. My mother was a clear one already. I looked further down at the other deaths that had two things in common. They could not have proven to be murders and in the case of my father, there was no actual proof that he was dead. There was one more thing too. The deaths were of my immediate blood relatives. It almost seemed as if somebody was trying to wipe out my entire family. Could Christian Home have killed both my father and somehow my baby brother? And was I supposed to have been killed too in that car accident? And what about the time I had met Laura Nilsen and she’d pushed me under? She definitely had a clear connection with both Gerda and Amund.
The two men, my grand-father Sven Mikkelsen and Nils Matsen had both been married to Gerda and there was a remote possibility that Tore had been in her class. But what abouto the first murder? I gave a loud, frustrated sigh and got up. Gerda seemed undeniably guilty of at least two of the murders. And she could have committed two more. She could have hung her sister and she could also have killed my baby brother. If she had somehow been around to see him as a baby. This wasn’t unlikely as I’m sure mum would have come over with him to grandma and grandpa. My grandpa had been a lot older than grandma and had died before I was born. Heart attack, completely unexpected, but definitely not murder. Gerda was after all, known for having a screw or five loose. Maybe she had killed my father too? It wasn’t impossible.

I went down to the kitchen where Emma, who had just arrived back, was unpacking the today’s food shopping.
“You’re looking serious,” she said.
I went over to the fridge and poured myself a glass of ice tea I’d made the night before. I drank slowly, enjoying the sweetness and mixed fruit flavour of the drink.
“I’m just trying to make sense of it all,” I said and poured myself a second glass. “But the first murder happened when my suspect was a baby.”
Emma shook her head.
“I was thinking we could have a little BBQ today. Why don’t you see if Markus is free? I will invite Anita and Lars and Daniel.” She blushed a little at the last name.
“Oooh, so it’s Daniel,” I said. “Please invite him. How did your date go the other day?”
“I’m a bad liar aren’t I”+ Emma sighed.
”Yeah work late my foot,” I said.
“I really like him,” she replied and smiled from ear to ear. “Please can you go outside and hang the seat cushions for the garden chairs up to dry? And then, I really want your help with the food.”
The sun was shining as I entered the garden. I wondered when it had stopped raining. We had stupidly forgotten to take in the cushionss for the chairs the night before, so there were wet. But if this weather persisted, they’d be fine by this evening.
Rune, Gerda’s son was doing something near the hedge and I called over to him.
“How’s Gerda?” I asked. “
“She’s in a stable condition, but not ready to be discharged just yet,” he said. “I’m here to water some flowers. She asked mee.
“Can she take visitors?” I asked tentatively.
“I’m sure she would be happy to see you. I sent your regards. But she’s still weak, so I guess it’s best to keep it short.”
I nodded.
“Sure. I smiled my most dazzling smile and went inside. I wondered if he was mixed up in all of this. I hoped not. He seemed like a decent man.

After chopping salad and marinating meat, I went upstairs to call Arlette. She was over joyed to hear from me.
“It’s so lovely to have someone asking for me after so many years,” she said.
I asked if she wanted to come to our BBQ later. Emma said she’d lend me the car so I could pick her up. “You can stay the night if you want. Too.”
“That would be lovely” she said. Her enthusiasm moved me almost to tears. I wasn’t somebody who had tons of friends, but the few I had were good and steady. And I couldn’t imagine what life without them would be like.
Ok. I’ll be there in an hour or so,” I said.
“Just one thing. Do you know if Henriksen, the lighthouse keeper back in the 1940s have any children or grand-children?”
“Henriksen?” Arlette asked in alarm.
“Yes. That was the lighthouse keeper, wasn’t it?”
“Oh good heavens no. Henriksen was a local greengrocergreen grocer who had a shop in Grimstad. I was friends with his youngest daughter. No. The lighthouse keeper back then was Olav Andersen. He’s the father of Amund Andersen.”
“Did he have any other sons?” I asked.
“Yes. Oscar. But he was my age. And a daughter, Irene”
“And do you know anything about an artist who lived in Lillesand in the 1920s?”
“Arlette was quiet for a while before she said.
“There could have been two. One of them is Atle Johansen. He later moved to Italy where he enjoyed great success. The second one was a guy called Frans Fransen. He was Gerda’s father.”

Episode 17. The woman behind the fortune teller

The woman behind the fortune teller
June 17th
“You’re all set for the babies,” I said. We had decided to meet at Merete’s apartment. She didn’t really have to be at work at a certain time and we wanted the privacy. Her apartment was minimalist in a grey and brown colour scheme which I personally wouldn’t have gone for, but with her choice of furniture; she’d somehow made it work. The nursery had been kitted out with two small beds stuffed animals, and the open wardrobe contained some baby clothes. I noticed she’d chosen gender neutral colours mostly.
“I don’t want to know what they are until they’re born,” she said.
“I’m nervous,” she said.
“Of becoming a mum?”
“Yes. But I was actually thinking of the mid-summer murders article. The first instalment will be published today.”
“But that’s really exciting!” I exclaimed.
We went into the kitchen where Merete started grinding coffee beans.
“But, I am nervous of becoming a mum too. I often wonder whether I’m cut out to be one.”
“Can I ask how old you are?”
“I’m thirty-five. So I’m a big girl who shouldn’t have any issues. It’s just that, I never planned on having babies.”
I knew I had wanted babies from I was quite young. And I had wanted them before I was twenty-five. That was before I knew how young that really was, how much I still wanted to do before I had them, but most importantly I wanted to be in a good stable relationship too. And I had been firmly single at that age. After that, my goal had been thirty. But I never quite felt Ronald (please don’t call me Ron) was somebody I wanted as the father of my children.
“You’ll be fab,” I said. Just don’t over-caffeinate yourself.”
Merete laughed. “You should have seen me before I got knocked up,” she said. “I drank at least ten cups a day. So taking that down to two is pretty amazing of me if I may say so. And I may”.
We were sitting in the living room with coffee and open sandwiches and Merete had her file and laptop on the table in front of her.
“How on earth did you find her using that picture? It wasn’t exactly as if she was trying to show her face very well.”
“Well,” said Merete. I was actually surprised when you sent me the picture. Because one of the first serious interviews I did for this paper, about ten years ago, was about life in a mental institution. And one of the patients I interviewed was this woman.”
“Oh really,” I said and leaned forward as she fired up her laptop so I could see the screen better. She went into a series of file folders, and it didn’t take long before she found the article.
It was entitled “When the world don’t make sense” and told the story of three people who lived in a closed psychiatric ward. They talked openly about their diagnosis, how life had been before they got to the hospital and how they envisaged their future on the outside. It was an informative piece that was an easy read as well as being reflective.
The first guy was a man with schizophrenia. The second was a woman with multiple personalities. She would have been the most intriguing to me had it not been for the third woman. Her name was Laura Nilsen and at the time the article was written, she was twenty-two years old. She had been at the institution for two years. She’ was going in and out of psychosis. And she described that when she was in a bad period, she could become very violent. She said that she’d been one of those children who had grown up in foster homes and been trouble at school. She had done some petty crimes in her teens and had been placed in a home for difficult youth when she was sixteen.
From the age of eighteen, and till she was twenty-one, she had lived in moderately supported accommodation. That meant she was free to come, go and do whatever she needed to do, but that there was staff she could call on if she felt like she was going to have a panic attack, or was otherwise mentally unwell. Because even though this was before her returning psychosis, she had been diagnosed as depressed at the time.
What had landed her in the psychiatric ward in the end was one day when she, unknown to herself, had her first known episode of psychosis coming on. She had been at work. She was a dinner lady at a canteen for some firm and she enjoyed her job. One of the workers had asked her something, she couldn’t remember what it was, although it was probably a perfectly normal question. Instead of answering, she had lifted a heavy pan full of hot soup and thrown it in the face of the poor man who had ended up in hospital with third degree burns. She had been hopeful about the future. She was to move to supported accommodation in a few months and she was already feeling better.
The last question Merete had asked her was if she ever regretted anything she’d ever done under psychosis.
“I regret what happened to that man in the canteen… He did recover eventually I heard. It’s awful to hear what you’ve done to other people when you’re mentally present. A bit like a blackout from drinking too much alcohol, only it’s much, much worse. And I regret one more thing. I once stayed with a foster family where I really enjoyed myself, just before I went to live in the home. Partly because the parents of the dad really loved me as a granddaughter. I especially got on with my foster grandfather or grandpa as he allowed me to call him. He once asked me to carry out a big favour for him that he was too old and no longer strong enough to do. But I never got a chance to do it, because at the time, I just couldn’t. I can’t say what the thing is, but it was to help him fulfil what he called his life mission. If he is still alive when I move out, I will help him do what I couldn’t do before.”
“That’s really odd,” I said.
Merete nodded. “I planned to delete it from the article, but I kept it in there. And the editor said the life mission thing was very touching.”
“I suppose he has a point. Only that way of wording it… I don’t know.” I poured myself a huge glass of water and drank.
“Can I see her picture?”
Merete enlarged the photo belonging to the article. A young woman wearing tracksuit bottom and a t-shirt with long strawberry blond hair look back at me. As Clairvoyant Clara, she must have been using green lenses, because in this picture her eyes were…. I gasped. I had seen her before. One eye was blue and the other one grey. I had put her to the back of my mind, but seeing those eyes made the memories come rushing back.
“What’s wrong?” Merete asked.
I groaned and put a hand in front of my eyes.
“Please, can someone stop this thing?” I said.
“Stop what?”
It was 1999 and the last year grandma was alive. The day in question had been especially hot, so I decided to go for a swim. After a while, I had been joined by a girl who was perhaps a few years older than me. She had asked if she too could swim. I didn’t really mind. Maybe the girl was new in the neighbourhood. Maybe we could become friends? She never gave me her name and I don’t think I gave her mine either. But she told me she was visiting the people who lived in the blue house and pointed towards where Gerda lived. And she said that she was only there for the day.
We ended up playing around in the water, having contests to see who could swim the fastest. And after a while, she proposed we try and see who could stay under water the longest. It was salt water, so I wasn’t keen, but agreed to try it once. She went first. Her lung capacity was amazing, but I remember at one point feeling worried that she hadn’t come up to breathe for air. When her head finally broke the surface, it was my turn. I went under, and immediately felt as if something or someone was trying to hold me there. I struggled, but whoever it was held my head down so hard that I couldn’t get up until the pressure on my head eased and I broke the surface to see Grandma approaching us.
What?” I’d said looking the other girl square in the eyes. But she’d only smiled and said “I was only joking around.”
I had not found the joke funny in the slightest and I’d never seen the girl again either.
“Until Friday. Then you saw her again. And she told you that you might die. Amund was the man she called Grandpa,” Merete concluded.
I nodded, having reached the same conclusion. “I wonder what that life mission was exactly. I guess it doesn’t matter now though. He’s senile and probably doesn’t know his right foot from his left.”
Merete stared at me blankly before nodding.
“Of course he is senile. I forgot that.”
I thought her reaction was rather strange, but decided not dwell on it. She had a lot to think about after all, the soon to be mother.

Episode 14. Dog chooses owner

Dog chooses owner
June 14th
When I woke up the next morning, I felt better and lighter than I’d done in ages. We hadn’t discussed my predicament any further after entering the restaurant and that was fine with me. I felt safe in the knowledge that I had people around me who would help should things get ugly with my former step dad.
The food had been lovely. We’d shared a seafood platter for starters. The scallops, mussels, shrimps and crab claws had tasted amazing in that way only seafood just taken out of the sea could. Afterwards, I’d eaten fried flatfish with rice, and garden salad with pomegranate vinegar dressing. Markus had chosen a fish risotto. We had talked while we enjoyed the food and wine. And though I know it’s a cliché, it felt like we’d known each other for ages. When the dinner was over, and we’d paid our bills, he helped me get a cab, and kissed me briefly, but passionately on the lips before we parted.
It was only eight o’clock, but Emma was already in the kitchen when I got downstairs. The smell of waffles made my tummy rumble and when I entered the kitchen, Emma already had a few waffles spread out over kitchen paper.
“You’re up early,” I said.
“Good morning. How was your date?”
She’d gone to bed by the time I got home at eleven, probably exhausted from all her hard work with the forty years jubilee the day before.
“Actually, I can tell it went well from your face,” she said and gestured for me to put some more coffee on.
“We can eat some of this waffles now,” Emma said while I set the table. “But the rest, we’re bringing to Arlette. I’m really dying to meet her again. But before we go there, I’m taking us to the dog house.”
“The dog house?” I asked poring myself a cup of strong coffee.
“You remember my colleague Anita from the party?”
I nodded.
“She works for the animal welfare as a volunteer and since she and her partner have a reasonably large house, sometimes takes in stray dogs that need new homes when their kennels are filled up. And since I’d been thinking of getting a dog for a while, I thought I’d come today since she has five staying with her. «That’s exciting,” I exclaimed, reaching for a waffle. I absolutely adored dogs, but I’d never felt it was the right time to have one since I often worked long hours. Emma on the contrary, had not been a dog person at all, so the news that she wanted a dog came as quite a surprise.

The dogs were outside in the garden when we arrived. Anita and a man I assumed was her boyfriend sat on their veranda drinking Fanta with ice cubes and observed the dogs playing. There was a huge German shepherd laying under a tree not joining in at all, a Dalmatian and Irish setter rolling around on the grass, a poodle washing itself and a black Labrador chewing contentedly on a bone.
“Lovely to see you!” Anita got up and walked down the garden path towards us.
The Dalmatian and the setter were all over us as soon as we got inside the gate. The Labrador came to sniff, but the poodle and the German shepherd seemed completely uninterested in us. Emma backed away in horror as the Dalmatian jumped up and tried to lick her face.
“Nessa, down,” Anita commanded in an authoritative voice. “Nessa has been with me for a few weeks now and she’s a completely different dog from the quiet skinny one who had clearly been neglected by her owner.”
Anita Caressed Nessa’s head and Nessa waved her tail before running away to fetch a toy that was lying on the grass.
“This is Belle,” Anita said and patted the Irish setter. The lab is called Max, the poodle Alana and this here, “she walked over to the German shepherd who now appeared to be sleeping. “This is Mica. He came to me a couple of weeks ago and he has been very quiet all the time. He was found in an overheated shed in a back garden. Someone in the neighbouring house called to alert us that the owners had moved without taking the dog.
“That’s awful,” Said Emma and bent down to pat his soft head. He didn’t stir.
“I don’t know who to choose,” Emma said in the end. “What do you think Sandra?”
I passed in my playing fetch with Belle. “I don’t know,” I said. “But it’s going to be your dog, so you’ll have to make the decision.”
“That’s where you’re both wrong,” smiled Anita. The one who will make the decision is the dog.”
“How does that work?” Asked Emma.
“Pat the dogs you haven’t patted yet and then make out as you’re leaving. The dog, who follows you, is yours.”
Emma patted all the dogs in turn, except the poodle that seemed to be interested in only herself. When she was done, she started walking towards the gate. Anita and I watched with excitement as Mica, the German shepherd got up and started following her.
“Turn around,” we said in unison. Emma smiled as she watched Mica stop when she stopped and walk again when she started walking.
“Miracles haven’t ceased to happen,” she said when they’d both reached the gate. She entwined her fingers into his soft long hairs and he leaned his head towards her. “Because I never thought I’d A, get a dog, and B, get a big dog.”

Half an hour later, we were on the road. Anita had given us Mica’s bowl as well as his colour and lead. “The owners had the sense to microchip him. He’s been to the vet, and he’s physically healthy. I’m sure he’ll recover just fine with you mentally. «We were now on our way to Arlette. Mica sat in the back seat and stared out of the window as if he’d never done anything else in his life.
Arlette was sitting on the veranda listening to something through headphones when we arrive. She was overjoyed to see me again. And though she and Emma had only met a few times many years ago, they seemed happy to see each other as well. Even Mica, understanding that Arlette was family, came up to sniff her hand and he let her pat his head before he lied down gently at her feet.
Astrid came out and greeted us and then asked if we wanted something to drink.
“Most curious,” said Arlette after I’d told them about Clairvoyant Clara at the Hansen & Dale summer party. “I too would normally write off those fortune tellers as fake. But she seemed to know a lot of things about you that you could never have told her.”
“Unless,” I said. “And I know this sounds crazy, but maybe she’s in on the whole thing.” “That would be a really strange coincidence,” said Emma. Although the booking of her did happen in a very strange way, because she was the one who called us. She mentioned being a psychic and that her friend worked for us and had told her about the summer party. And would we need a fortune teller? You know, just for fun? I spoke to Hansen Jr about it before I said yes, and he was delighted at the idea. Not because he believed in fortune telling, but because he thought it would be a nice edition the women and children especially would enjoy.”
Sexist, I thought.
“Oh what a stupid man!” Exclaimed Arlette as if she’d read my thoughts.
“Emma laughed and helped herself to another waffle.
“He’s quite old-school in his thinking,” she added.
“Did Clairvoyant Clara give you the name of her friend, or her own real name in relation to that booking?” I wanted to know.
Emma shook her head. But I found her on some National Association of psychics website listed under that name. So I accepted her request to be at our party as it was just a bit of fun anyway.”
”I would check her out thoroughly if I were you,” said Arlette. There is something about this that really stinks and I don’t like it in the slightest.

Episode 13. Date

Date
June 13th
“You look really glamorous.” Emma put down the curling iron and I got up from the kitchen chair and went upstairs to my room where there was a full length mirror. Emma was right. I looked glamorous. Not in a diva way. But that wasn’t the kind of look I was going for. I looked glamorous in a smart casual way. I was going on a date with Markus, the librarian I’d met the week before, and I was excited. I was wearing a blue skirt that finished above my knees, and a blue and white dressy sleeveless top. I was wearing the same nude heels and matching handbag from yesterday, but the outfit was different, so it didn’t matter. And Emma had tamed my unruly curls into beautiful ringlets.
Markus had texted me a after my first meeting with Merete to ask how it had gone and if I was getting anywhere with my investigations. The texting had upgraded to chatting and then, he’d called this morning to ask if I wanted to go out with him. I know a whole lot of dating guides would disapprove of me accepting a date on the same day as I was asked. But I could tell he’d really worked up his courage to ask me and I had nothing else on anyway. Plus, I liked him. Sod dating books anyway. If you meet someone you like, and they like you, I believe in going with the flow.
“Where is he taking you?” Emma asked excitedly as I started applying make-up.
“We’re going for drinks down by the harbour. But I’m not sure after that. But what miss,” I said turning around to face her. “Who was that charmer I saw you talking to at the party?”
When I had gone back in to try and get my hands on some cake, I had found Emma in deep conversation with a rather attractive man. The conversation had involved a whole lot of giggling and ‘accidental’ touching. My aunt, youthful as she was, had reminded me of a schoolgirl. She blushed and didn’t meet my eyes.
“Just one of the engineers. He just started.”
“Mhm, and I guess you’re going to tell me that you were talking about work?”
“Leave me alone,” she giggled and went downstairs.
Markus was already there when I arrived at the pier and I was on time. This always seems to happen to me. I suffer from chronic lateness. I’m never more than fifteen minutes late though. And I always let whoever I’m meeting know that I’m running late. But when I’m on time and proud of myself for it, you can bet that whoever I’m going to meet is already there.
“I know I’m early,” Markus said apologetically, noticing me glancing at my watch. “But I decided to leave early because the weather was really nice.”
I melted inside. The weather was nice, but the sun had hidden behind clouds and it looked as if it could possibly start raining. Clearly he had been looking forward to seeing me.
“That’s fine,” I smiled and accepted his arm as we started walking towards a bar with outside tables. The temperature was still comfortable, so we decided to sit outside. Markus went inside to by drinks, and came out with a beer for himself and a gin & tonic for me.
“’so how are you finding everything?” he asked.
“Everything?” I bit down on my straw and wondered what I was going to say.
“Everything is kind of crazy,” I settled on in the end. “Here am I, trying to get a little break from busy London life, and I find out that half my family was murdered by a ghost.”
Markus laughed. “When you put it like that, it does sound pretty crazy,” he agreed.
“I like Merete though. I think we’re becoming friends. And at the risk of sounding winy, it’s not that easy to make friends at our age in a new place. Especially when you’re not working or studying.”
“I think you’re right,” Markus said. “At our age, most people are either busy arguing about whose turn it is to change the nappy, or calculating wedding costs.”
“I guess Merete will be doing that soon though. The nappy changing anyway. But she’s, I don’t know, a bit different,” I said.
Markus nodded. “She’s one of a kind. I’m sure she’ll make a very cool and liberal mother.”
Two drinks later, we had touched on a lot of topics. We both loved books, so we spent a lot of time talking about literature. And Markus, being a librarian, wrote down a long list of books I needed to read.
“You know, I’ve always wanted to write a book,” I said.
“So why don’t you?”
“I haven’t really found the time, plus I’m not sure what to write about. I want to do something different.
“You make time for writing,” said Markus. “And the right story will come to you. You just have to stop thinking and fretting about it.”
“How about you. Did you ever want to write?”
“No. I don’t know if I possess a big enough imagination to keep a story going for more than two pages. So that’s why I became a librarian.”
We were both starting to feel hungry. And Markus suggested we go to a really nice fish and seafood restaurant around the corner. I was completely sold on the idea as fresh fish and seafood is some of my favourite food. So he went inside to pay the bill waving away my insistence on paying for my half.
“Please let me be a gentleman and pay for this evening,” he said. He was a far cry from Ronald who had calculated every single item on every food bill and grumbled if I ever asked to borrow some chain for a coffee if I’d ran out.
The text came while Marcus was inside. Or rather, it was a message on Facebook messenger since I had changed over to a Norwegian sim card a few days earlier.
“Hi Sandra. I hope you’re enjoying Norway. I’m on my way now. And I just can’t wait to soak up some of that south coast sunshine. I wanted to be there sooner, but I had a few other things to take care of.
See you before you know it”
The name of the sender was Facebook User. But I knew better of course. Christian Holm was on his way over the Atlantic.
“Are you ready?” Markus stood next to my chair smiling down at me. But his smile died when he saw my face. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
I wasn’t sure what to answer. I would need to do a whole lot of explaining for him to understand and I didn’t feel like doing it in such a public place.
“Can we go for a walk? I’ll try to explain, but I need to be somewhere more private.”
I got up and linked my arm in his. And as we walked some almost deserted streets close to the harbour, I talked about that fateful car accident for the first time in nearly ten years.
“I was twenty, and had returned to London for the summer break from my university in Sheffield. It was the year I was planning to learn how to drive. I hadn’t done It the years before, because I’d always been busy travelling, but this year, I was gonna help mum in the shop and I thought it would be the perfect time to learn it. I had been worried about mum lately. Without saying so directly, I understood that she was unhappy with Christian and that he might not treat her how a good husband should treat his wife.
On the morning the accident happened, he had left for work early and had seemed in a particularly good mood. Mum’s shop manager and assistant were taking the morning shift so that mum could take me test driving. Everything went off to a brilliant start and I was pleased to see that the few driving lessons I’d had already had paid off. There wasn’t much traffic on the road. Both because we didn’t live in a very traffic congested part of London and because at 11 o’clock, the roads aren’t that full anyway. We had been driving for about ten minutes when a huge lorry came towards us. Later, I knew that the driver of the lorry was drunk, but then, I couldn’t understand why he kept driving straight towards us. That particular road was narrow, and had he driven further out to the other side, we would have just managed to pass each other without colliding. As it was, he was driving right in the middle of the road and both mum and I started to get more and more panicked. I decided that the only thing I could do to save us, was to make a U-turn and drive back to where we’d come from. There was a four lane road back there, and hopefully we’d avoid the lorry driving into us that way. How wise the decision was, I don’t know. But when I was to break while I turned, because I didn’t dare to make a turn at the speed we were driving at, the breaks refused to work. And suddenly the break came off in my hand. The lorry was coming ever closer and just as I thought I’d managed to turn to get away, it drove into us and everything around me became black and quiet.
I woke up in intensive care three days later. A doctor told me that a man had seen the accident when he’d turned down that road and called the police as well as an ambulance. The doctor also informed that I’d had internal bleedings and managed to get a serious concussion from the accident; but that I was now in a stable condition. I’d be kept for observation over the next few days, but I should soon be able to go home. When I’d asked about mum, the doctor had looked at me with sad eyes and informed me that she’d died three hours after arriving at the hospital. The drunk driver was mostly unharmed. He’s just gotten a mild concussion and a 30 days prison sentence.
I had returned home a week later to pack some things and go stay with Melissa and her parents. I didn’t feel comfortable on my own and Christian had disappeared. The only thing I found from him when I picked up the mail was a sarcastic note saying “Thanks Sandra for killing my wife. I shall never be happy again. Murderer.”
“That’s awful!” Markus exclaimed when I finished talking. “I nodded. In pretty bad taste yes. And it made me realize that the man must be sick. And now, ten years later he’s after me for having killed her. Why couldn’t he have left me to it? Or better, dealt with it ten years ago. Face to face like a man.”
Markus shook his head and sighed.
“But you know you didn’t kill her right?”
“The rational part of me knows. But there are times when I’m wondering whether he could be right.”
“That’s nonsense!” He stopped and turned to look me straight in the eye. “And you know what? I think you should talk to him. Face up and say what you think about the way he’s tormenting you. And that you know you’re innocent.” I’m here to support you, Merete is, and I’m sure Emma will support you too. She’s your aunt.”
Emma had been just as shocked as me after the accident and had come to London for the funeral. She’d also stayed with me for the months it took to deal with all the legal issues such as her will. She had left the shop and everything to me. But I had sold it. Neither ready, nor willing to take it on. In fact Emma had stayed with me all through the autumn exams too so that she could deal with all the sales while I was revising.
“Sure she will,” I said.
“Just out of interest. When did the accident happen?” Markus asked as we turned back down to the harbour to go to the seafood place.
“I guess,” gasped, suddenly realizing a connection. “It happened on mid-summer eve. And you know something else too, I’m sure those breaks were tampered with.”
Just as we walked into the restaurant, the heavens opened.

Episode 12. Clairvoyant Clara

Clairvoyant Clara
June 12th.
I was surprised to see the amount of people who had turned up tonight. It was Friday and the summer party and forty years jubilee of Hansen & Dale, the oil company Emma was working for. She had done a great job on the preparations. Paper chandeliers hang colourfully from the trees and there were little fairy lights also tied to the trees that would be switched on when the sun went down. The BBQ had already started and the spices from the meat I had helped cut, marinate and put onto skewers wafted towards me. There were also jacket potatoes, hot dogs and hamburgers, potato salad, and a long improvised salad bar that started with vegetables and ended in fruits. Inside the party tent, there would be a chocolate fondue afterwards as well as a 4 story jubilee cake. One for each decade. There were tables and benches outside and on the tables stood various snacks from nuts and crisps to cocktail sausages. They had hired in waiting staff to walk around with champagne trays and I gratefully grabbed a glass as soon as one came my way. I feel uncomfortable when I am at parties where I don’t know anybody unless I’m there for work reasons. Emma, who was the only one I knew, was busy sorting out some details with some entertainers, so I was alone. There were employers both past and present with their wives and children of various ages. I noticed that quite a few of the wives of the younger employees seemed younger than me. And that they had that Oslo West look so common down south in the summer months. A couple of the young wives were even pregnant. I noticed some of them eyeing me up curiously and whispering together. I had felt nice when I’d left home, in my new pink summer dress from Belinda and my nude high heels and matching bag, but I felt plain under their gazes. I took another sip of champagne. I wasn’t jealous of these women really. At first glance their lives may seem perfect. But they struggled as much as the rest of us to add meaning to their lives. Being rich and only working some self-invented job to pass the time could be just as mind-numbing as having a permanent overdraft and working twelve hour long days. One of them was on her way over to me. She had long, perfectly wavy blond hair, and was wearing real Manolo Blanics. I couldn’t help but stare lustfully at her shoes as she approached and also note with a tinge of envy that I would have looked ridiculous in them, whilst she walked as comfortably as if they had been flats.
“I’ve not seen you before.” She held out her hand and kissed the air next to my cheek on both sides. “I am Adriana. The wife of Peder Hansen.”
I had a feeling I should know who Peder Hansen was from the way she so confidently uttered her husband’s name, but my face must have drawn a blank, because she laughed a forced laugh and said “You know, the son of the first Hansen who founded the company.”
“Ah, I should have realized,” I said turning my stiffest British upper lip smile on.
“I’m Sandra Martinsen, the niece of Emma Martinsen in HR. I’m just over here from London.”
She looked like she was about to fall asleep before I’d finished my sentence.
“I see. Would you like to join me and my friends over there?” She pointed to where the other wives were sitting.
“That’s really kind of you, but I need to go and help Emma with something,” I said trying to look genuinely apologetic. Adriana Hansen got a look on her face as if I should have told her that she’d got dog poo stuck to her heels.
“Oh, I understand. By the way, just thought I’d tell you, it looks like you forgot to cut off the price tag on your dress. That style was so last month, but it looks nice on you.”
I swore inside. I’d been so busy getting ready on time having only had fifteen minutes from I was finished helping with the skewers until we had to leave. And I had meant to cut it off, but had obviously forgotten. I started pulling at the tag, only to have my hand brushed away by Mrs Hansen Jr who swiftly cut it off with a pair of nail scissors she dug up from the make-up bag in her handbag.
“So you don’t ruin it. And just feel free to come over when you’re done helping.”
What a cow, I thought grabbing another champagne flute from a passing tray.
“Hello, hello, hello everybody! And welcome to this fortieth jubilee of Hansen and Dale. An Oil company that’s been a pride in Grimstad for forty years! And not just a pride of this little town. We have been internationally recognized as experts in our particular field and have been taken on in a consulting position for a large American company along with two other companies in Stavanger and Oslo. We’re celebrating that too.”
Everybody clapped enthusiastically. A small, fat man who was mostly balled was standing on a makeshift podium outside the party tent. He looked uncomfortable and I could see rings of sweat on his crumpled white shirt.
“I am Peder Hansen for those who don’t know me, although I should think most of you do. And I’m the proud son of my father Ole who will be one of our many speakers today.”
More applause from the crowd.
I stared at the man with new interest. Was he married to that devil in Manollo Blanics who’s just insulted me and my dress? He looked to be at least twenty years older than her.
“As I mentioned, there will be a few speeches tonight, talking about Hansen & Dale from 1975 till today. And we have some great entertainers. We have Madam Mim, a magician for the children and you can have your fortune told by clairvoyant Clara in the small white tent behind the party tent.”
I giggled, as the crowd applauded a third time. The two glasses of champagne had already started to get to my head. Probably because I hadn’t eaten since lunch and was ravenous. Did he know just how funny he sounded stuttering on the name of a Disney character?
“What’s so funny?” I hadn’t noticed Adriana passing me to stand closer to her husband at the podium.
“Your husband. He’s so last century, but he really suits you.” I know it was childish and rude, but how could I not? She glared at me but said nothing.
“So I hope you’ll all enjoy yourselves. The food will soon be ready and we’ll announce when we’re turning on the chocolate fondue.”

Emma came out of the party tent and stood next to me. Her face looked a little flustered, but she looked otherwise pretty in a green dress that complimented her eye colour.
“Having fun?” she asked and gestured for me to come and grab food before the queue got too long.
“There really are a few curious characters here,” I giggled.
“Curious? Interesting choice of word. I’d call them Snobs. It’s more appropriate. Or airheads.” She pointed to Adriana Hansen and a couple of her friends who seemed to be giggling together like high school girls.
“But they’re not all bad. Peder Hansen is actually a nice guy even though he’s totally clueless about modern life and has a wife that could pass for his daughter.”
“What about Dale?”
“He has retired, and there was no junior to take over.”
She started loading a plate full of salad items, bread and three skewers. I followed her example as well as loading another plate full of fruits.
A woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties waved at us as we walked with our plates to find somewhere to sit. She was wearing a navy blue suit with an A-line skirt, and had discrete make-up on. “Over here!” she shouted. She introduced herself as Anita, also working in HR. “Emma is my boss,” she said. Emma and Anita talked about work and some other internal gossip, while I enjoyed my food in silence and watched the people around me. Madam Mim had arrived and her costume was definitely inspired by the Disney witch. But hopefully her personality wasn’t. The children seemed to love her anyway as she pulled a brown rabbit out of a hat.
When Madam Mim had done her thing and the speeches started, I went inside to look for the toilets. I was both bursting and my lipstick needed a touch up. There were two women in there already. Oil wives of the other kind, the kind the younger ones changed into as they got older. These women were plumper, or slim in a softer way, and looked like they’d spent more time at the champagne bar than at the gym. But they still looked elegant in a faded way.
“Well, I’ve never had my fortune told,” said the first one, a brunette redoing her eye liner. “So I simply have to go see that clairvoyant woman.”
“She’s amazing,” replied her blond friend who was applying hand cream. “She told me I was about to embark on a journey of love, spirituality, insights and surprises. Do you think I’m going to be the next Elizabeth Gilbert?”
“Who’s that?” ask the brunette.
“I can’t believe you don’t know!” exclaimed the blond. “She’s the genious behind Eat, Pray, and Love. A woman’s search for answers to Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia.” She turned to me as I got to the sink next to her and started washing my hands. “Have you read it?”
I nodded and got busy with my lipstick. I hoped she wouldn’t ask more questions. I had indeed read the first few pages, but I’d given up. I just found the book too predictable. And it all seemed a bit too planned to be a genuine memoir… I had enjoyed the film more because it seemed more suited to a film. Although I’d found that too quite dull.
“Wonderful don’t you think?”
Oh no. the dreaded question.
“Positively enlightening,” I replied putting my lipstick back in my clutch bag.
“You see Yvonne?” said the blond. “I’ll lend you the book.”
“I don’t think you will be the new Elizabeth Gilbert,” said Yvonne the brunette solemnly. “I mean, can you afford to travel anywhere after you made your poor husband almost bankrupt buying that real diamond tiara at that auction in France?”
“You speak for yourself,” said the blond. “My husband at least doesn’t have a gambling problem”.
I left the two women to air their dirty laundry to each other in the toilet and went in search for clairvoyant Clara. I didn’t believe in fortune telling. But I’d never had it done. And it would be interesting to see what she’d say to me.
I had to wait only five minutes outside the small white tent behind the party tent before the curtains opened and a red-haired teenage girl came out. I walked gingerly through the curtain wondering what the next few minutes would hold.
“What kind of reading do you want?” Asked Clairvoyant Clara. She was wearing jeans, a pink top and had short strawberry blond hair. Her looks were far from the gipsy/new age look I’d been expecting. She was sitting on a stool and the tent smelled strongly of frankincense. On the camping table in front of her, lay three Dec of cards.
“What?” she said when I didn’t answer straight away.
“Ehm, it’s just that you don’t, I mean you look different from what I’d imagine.”
She laughed a deep, throaty laugh
“I refused to fulfill the cliché,” she said. “Hope you’re not too disappointed”. I shook my head.
“There’s something different about you,” she said. I didn’t answer. I knew so called psychics used those kinds of opening lines before they were about to bullshit you further. That, or “You’ve been worried lately”. Everyone is always worried about something, so it’s a safe opening that will have most people go “Yeah, how did you know?”
“You are from overseas and you’re here because you’re running away from something. “I’m right aren’t I?” she said as she saw the startled look on my face. “Come here, Sarah, Andrea?” “Sandra,” I said, wondering how she’d almost gotten my name right.
She drew out a stool next to hers and I sat down.
“You’re also looking for answers to a big and old mysteries. You’re running away and this mystery is linked. It’s all one big chain of events really.”
Surely bullshitting psychics weren’t that spot on.
“You see, I’m a medium,” she said as if she’d read my thoughts. “And the moment you came in, I got lots of voices in my head trying to tell me something. But they’re all talking at the same time. You must be dealing with many deaths Sandra. Many unfair deaths.”
I shivered despite the heat in the tent and nodded slowly.
“You shall find all the answers where you least expect them. All shall be revealed on the eve of Saint John. And fear the living, not the dead. For the dead shall protect you while some living will try to harm you. Go to the lighthouse on the eve of Saint John. You will be expected.”
Clara got up and smiled. “Whatever it is, good luck,” she said.
“How much do I owe you? I asked.
“Nothing. This reading was a pleasure. As I said, you are different from most people who come to me. You seek real answers, not fame or fortune. You’d be surprised how many people want to hear some crap about love or money rather than the actual whole truth about themselves.”
“So do you ever make things up?”
“I don’t, said Clara. “Everybody have degrees of love, money, success and spirituality in their lives. But how much of that, and how much of all the other stuff I talk to people about, depends on how receptive they are.”
“I wasn’t receptive. Was I? I don’t believe in clairvoyance.”
“Oh but you are receptive. Being receptive has nothing to do with believing in clairvoyance. The way I see it, being receptive means being able to take and accept the truth from wherever it comes. Most people can’t and won’t and have subconsciously closed themselves off to it. That’s why they’ll most likely never live to their full potential .And wasn’t what I told you right?”
I nodded. “Too right.”
“Just be careful. You have already been hurt by people you thought you knew, and until all the pieces in this puzzle are put together, you will be in great danger. The eve of Saint John will be the most dangerous in your life thus far. Whether you’ll survive I cannot say. But you should have the strength to do so and the wits.”
And with that, she opened the curtain and I walked out into the warm summer evening and towards the party tent where very soon, the cake would be cut.

Episode 11. Karl Lund

Karl Lund
June 11.
Merete had been all ears when I’d called her the night before to tell her about finding my paternal grandmother. And she’d promised to do a little digging around to see whether she could find out more about Frank Mikkelsen and also about the son Gerda had adopted. Now, we were sitting indoors at the place where we’d been eating on Monday because it was too windy and rainy to sit outside.
“Frank Mikkelsen was quite a high profile reporter,” she said flipping through a folder full of copied articles. She’d spent the whole day in the archives digging out information. And there was a lot more about Frank Mikkelsen here than what I’d found at the library.
“On way to mother in Kristiansand before disappearing”
Was one of the headlines.
“Frank Mikkelsen? What happened?”
Was another. The article was speculating in whether the disappearance of frank Mikkelsen was natural or if somebody was behind it. Since he was clearly observed one minute and gone the next.
“Eline denies affair. Says she loves husband and is waiting for him to come home”
Was another topic. I only skimmed a lot of the articles as they were not particularly interesting beyond the headline.
Merete was yawning opposite me.
“I could kill for a coffee right now,” she said. “But I guess I have to make due with tea as I’ve had the share of caffeine I am allowed being pregnant.”
I looked up from my reading and made sympathetic noises. Melissa was complaining about exactly the same thing. Although she’d gone extreme and even stayed off caffeine in soft drinks.
“How can she do that? I’d kill someone.”
“She’s been close to killing both me and her husband a couple of times,” I said. And we have to endure another 16 weeks.”
Merete laughed and got up. “You gave me an idea though. I’ll pretend I didn’t know there is caffeine in diet Pepsi. Want anything?”
“I’ll have a Pepsi too.”
She got up and stretched. “Look at this while I’m away.” She took a piece of paper out of her file and pushed it over to me.
“Was investigating the mid-summer murders when he disappeared,” said the headline. I read on:
Grimstad Daily News has learned that around the time of his disappearance, Frank Mikkelsen was making investigations into the Homborsund mid-summer murders.
It’s unclear as of yet whether he is making the investigations privately or publicly. However, he had been observed looking for old material in the archives.
Mikkelsen is the son of diseased Sven Mikkelsen who was third to drown outside the lighthouse Nellevine.
Could his disappearance be co-incidence, or is this calculated by somebody who was perhaps involved in the mid-summer murders?”
The byline read Karl Lund.
Merete came back with two bottles of diet Pepsi and two bags of ready salted crisps. I grabbed one of the bags and opened it.
“Do you know who Karl Lund is?” I asked after I’d swallowed my mouthful.
“Yes, I do as a matter of fact.”
“It’s not by any chance the boy Gerda adopted?” I asked unscrewing my Pepsi bottle.
“No. He is not that interesting a person. And I happened to know him. Not that I knew he was Gerda’s son until I started researching the mid-summer murders, but he is my ex’s neighbour and his name is Rune Andersen. He’s friendly enough. A painter. Like a painter who paints houses. Not an artist. ” She pointed to her stomach and drank greedily from her Pepsi. “The father of these two little devils. He’s my ex. We broke up.”
“While you’re pregnant with his kid?”
“Yes. We shouldn’t have been together in the first place. But as it happens, he’s a nice guy and he’ll be a good father to them and help me bring them up. But back to Karl Lund.”
“She pulled out a photo from her file.
“Karl Lund is a half Swedish, half Norwegian journalist who worked with Grimstad Daily News for about three years. I called the guy who was the editor at that time and he told me that Karl Lund was known for writing very spiteful opinion columns, which was what got him fired in the end. Although, he had apparently been a good news reporter. He got fired in 1987 after writing a speculative piece on how one local politician might have spent public money to buy a new boat, when he was supposed to do a cozy interview on how he spent the summer when he wasn’t working. The new boat was going to be featured heavily in the interview. Turned out Karl Lund was right about the money coming from public funds, but it was the way he attacked the piece the editor had an issue with.”
She pushed the photo over to me.
“That’s him.”
I picked up the photo and stared at it for two seconds before dropping it in horror.

“Sandra, are you ok?” I sat on the floor with my head between my knees and my breaths were coming out in gasps. I felt someone holding out a brown paper bag and I took it and breathed into it.
“Are you ok?” The voice which I now realized belonged to Merete repeated.
“I am fine,” I said when my breathing had slowed down enough for me to speak.
“Are you able to get up?” she asked.
I stretched my hands up and grabbed the table. And slowly I was able to place myself back onto my chair and push it towards the table. I picked up my Pepsi and drank. “I’m so sorry,” I said. “It’s just that, this man can’t be Karl Lund. His name is Christian Holm and he is, was my step-father.
“Really?” Merete had also got herself back on her chair. “You have to tell me everything Sandra.”
It was May 17th 2001 and the final year I let my mum drag me to the Norwegian constitution day celebrations in Southwark Park. I had really enjoyed it as a child, but as I got older, I found all the Norwegians insisting on parading in the streets and pretending to be in Norway a bit tacky. Mum wasn’t a huge fan either, but thought it was good to instill at least some Norwegian culture in me since I’d not been brought up in Norway, nor gone to Norwegian school. He had introduced himself to mum whilst I’d gone to try and get waffles and Solo, an orange drink similar to Fanta. The queue had been long and they’d managed to strike up quite a good friendship already when I’d returned.
“Sandra, meet Christian. He’s from Stockholm, but can you believe it, his mum is from Homborsund?”
I’d thought it to be quite a co-incidence, but didn’t think more about it.
They went for dinner the week after they met. The dinners became more and more frequent, as did his staying the night. I didn’t mind. I was sixteen, and during my childhood, mum hadn’t been dating anyone seriously enough to introduce them to me. So I’d had her to myself all my life. He moved in gradually and they married a year and three months after they met. Everything seemed to be fine. But when I’d moved out to go to university, I started receiving disconcerting phone calls from mum that had made me nervous. At first, she’d complained that she wasn’t sleeping well and that she was always drained. I told her to take it easy at work and leave more work for her second in command and the shop assistants.
Then she started complaining of headaches and stomach aches and then, she told me she’d started to feel scared and that it was because of Christian. But she hadn’t been able to continue the conversation as just then, he had come home.
The car accident happened the following week. The car accident that had killed my mum, and left me with serious injuries. Christian had just disappeared out of my life. He wasn’t even at my mum’s funeral which was held after four weeks to give me the chance to recover. I couldn’t understand what had happened. His phone had just been switched off and my e-mails were left unanswered. But I had somehow gotten through it, thanks to Melissa, her parents and Emma who had come to stay with me in London for a while whilst I was recovering and taking my exams at the same time. I hadn’t heard anything from Christian, not until recently when he called me at work and when he sent that anonymous text. He seemed to be both alive and well.
“That’s creepy.” Merete said. “Are you scared of him?”
I nodded.
“But the car accident…”
“Another time. Please, “I interrupted her. “I can’t talk about that today.”
Merete put a hand on top of mine on the table and squeezed it. “I’m happy to listen whenever you’re ready to talk,” she said. And I felt as if she really meant it.
“It’s interesting though about his name. Because I found out that Karl Lund was a pseudonym. His full name is Carl Christian Lundholm. And he quite rightly had a Swedish father and a Norwegian mother.”
Merete dug in her file again and pushed another piece of paper and an ancient looking photo over to me.
“And you might be interested to know that his adopted mother Irene Lundholm was Irene Andersen before she married. She was Amund Andersen’s younger sister.”
I picked up the photo which showed a handsome man in his thirties or forties dressed in a three piece suit and with his hair combed back from his forehead. Next to him stood a beautiful bride with dark hair elaborately arranged on top of her head. She was holding a large flower bouquet and was smiling at her groom.
“Who are they?” I asked.
“That’s Amund’s and Gerda’s wedding picture taken in 1963.”
“Wow. Gerda really was quite beautiful,” I said.
“Merete nodded.
“But look,” she said, and pushed the photo of Carl Christian Lundholm towards me. “Don’t you see the family resemblance?”
I looked from him to Amund and gasped. The resemblance was striking to say the least. Like father and son. But was that possible?

Episode 10. Arlette’s story

Arlette‘s story
June 10th

The home where Arlette Johnsen lived did not look like a stereotypical institution. It was a red and white wooden house surrounded by a lush green garden with benches and tables and tidy flower beds. I was excited as I walked up the path to the house

As I entered, I was reminded of an English country house. There was no proper reception area, so I entered into something I assumed was a common room of sorts. There were two sofas and a few chairs along the walls, and a flat TV screen on one of the other. The sound was mute, but judging from the pictures, it was showing a news report. Two old men sat in two of the armchairs. One was watching the TV intently, and one was reading a newspaper. I wasn’t sure how to get a nurse’s attention, so I stood there for a while hesitating before the man reading the newspaper looked up and saw me.
“Who are you here to see?”
He asked, funnily enough in American accented English.
“I’m here to meet my grandma,” I replied. “But it’s my first time, so I don’t know my way around here.”
“See that door over there mam? You go knock on that and someone should be able to help you.”
He pointed towards the wall to my left and for the first time I saw that it was in fact a door. The paneling had blended so perfectly with the wall that I hadn’t seen it, but now it was obvious as I spotted a door handle.
“Thank you sir,” I said.
“No bother. My name’s Captain Henry, but they all call me Hank.”
“Nice to make your acquaintance”, I replied and felt as if I was having one of these types of conversations you read in English literature from the colonial era, where page upon page is filled with platitudes.
I knocked on the door. And it was almost immediately opened by a plump woman in her fifties with a round friendly face and laughter lines around the eyes.
“You must be Sandra,” she said when she saw me. “I am Astrid, whom you spoke to yesterday.”
She held out a hand and I shook it.
“Arlette has been dying to see you since yesterday afternoon.”
“Mam, One more brandy and soda over here please”
It was Hank.
“Nina will be along with your medicines shortly Henry,” Astrid replied in Norwegian.
“A brandy calms the nerves of a captain,” He half said, half sang to himself.
“Don’t mind him,” Astrid said. “He served as a captain in the marine during most of his life and he’s got dementia. But a mild form of it. Still though, he thinks he’s bossing his crew around.” She laughed. “Although he’s very sweet our old captain.”
She led the way out another door and down a corridor. There were pictures on the walls. Some were of people, I assumed of people who lived there. Some were taken recently and showed them old, and smiling. Others were older. One was even a poster taken out of an old version of Vogue. Other pictures were scenery pictures. It looked cozy, like a home home. Not an institution home.
“This place is lovely,” I remarked.
“It’s privately owned. We don’t have many residents here, we like to call them that instead of patients, but the ones we have, we have a very good relationship with and we want them to feel that this is an actual home.”
She stopped outside a door with a wooden sign saying “Here lives Arlette,” and knocked before she opened.

Arlette Johnsen could only be described as a magnificent woman. She was wearing a cream coloured dress that was matching the arm chair she was sitting in. Her hair was long and white and looked like it had been freshly curled into neat ringlets. She was even wearing mascara and red lipstick and nail polish. She got up and I noticed she gripped the armrests very tightly as she straightened up into a standing position.
“Is that you Sandra?” she asked, walking slowly towards me. Her smile reached her sea green eyes which were looking directly at me.” ”Hi,” I said walking towards her to meet her half way. “I am Sandra.”
We stopped right in front of each other and she held out her hands. “I’m afraid I’m blind. So you need to come closer so I can have a proper look at you.”
I walked a couple of steps and took her hand. She released it and traced up my arm and shoulder to the side of my face. She cupped it gently as she touched my forehead, nose, ears, cheeks and chin. I closed my eyes, enjoying her cool hands on my face. She touched my throat and traced backwards towards my neck. She paused at the birth mark. I usually hated being touched there. But for some reason, I didn’t mind now. She touched my hair before putting her arms around me in a hug.
“How pretty you are,” she said. “You resemble me when I was around your age. The high cheekbones and forehad. And your nose.”
Astrid, who was still by the door, cleared her throat. “I suppose you two would like some privacy, but shall I get some tea and cakes?”
“Oh yes please,” Arlette said. “Green tea for me please.”
“For me too,” I said.
“Come and sit down,” Arlette said and walked stiffly back towards her armchair. I noticed the room properly for the first time and it was lovely. There was another armchair opposite hers and a walnut coloured coffee table between them. Along one wall was a bed, a wardrobe and a chest of drawers on which stood a digital radio. Along the other walls was a small book case with books that looked like they were in Braille. There was even an en suite bathroom
“I like your room,” I said admiringly and seated myself in the empty chair.
“Me too.” I have lived here for five years now and I don’t regret it for a day.”
“Where did you live before?”
“I lived in a nice top floor apartment in the city centre of Kristiansand. But I had an accident five years ago and my knees have never been quite the same since. I need a wheelchair if I’m going out of this room. And being blind and using a wheelchair, well it was just not practical to live alone any longer. So I found this pearl of a place owned by a woman whose diseased wealthy mum requested in her will this was made a private home for the elderly.”
“And did you become blind in the accident too?” I asked.
Arlette threw her head back and laughed.
“No!” I was born blind. Nothing they could do. But I’ve done alright. I used to be a model in my young days. You saw that Vogue poster outside?”
I nodded. “That was you?”
“Yes, it was. But let me start from the beginning.”
“I was born in Homborsund in 1932. I had a happy childhood. My mother expected me to chip in at home just like my two sisters and I was a daddy’s girl. Always went out fishing with him. He was the local fisherman when I was seven, I was sent away to a school for the blind and I only saw my family during the holidays. The teachers at that school didn’t know what to do about me. I wasn’t good with my hands and I am completely tone deaf. So for me to become a basket weaver or a piano tuner was out of the question. Thank God.
Then, one day when I went on holiday to Oslo with my sister Karen to visit a friend of ours who had married there, I was spotted by a photographer at a cocktail party. He was the friend of our friend’s husband and he wasn’t put off by my blindness at all. I was seventeen then and had been out of school for a while. I had taken a typist course, but there weren’t any jobs going at the time, so I was bored at home. I ceased the opportunity and very soon I was living a glamorous life in the capital. The work was hard, but the money was good and everything else that came with it. I traveled a great deal too. I saw London, Paris, Rome and Berlin. But I imagine all those cities are very different nowadays.
I met Sven in 1951 when I was back in Homborsund for my eldest sister Amalie’s wedding. Sven was so attentive, witty and charming. Nothing like the boyfriend I’d just broken up with back in Oslo who was dull and wanted me to leave modelling so I could marry him and be a stay at home wife. . Sven was a Taylor and I met him because he was the one who made the bridesmaid dress I wore at the wedding. We fell in love and started an affair. We didn’t see each other as often as we wanted to, but it was all the more passionate when we did manage to steal some time. I knew Gerda, his wife, but not well, because she was quite a bit older than me. She didn’t suspect anything for the first two years. And she’d never suspect her husband to have an affair with me. I was after all, the blind girl who probably could do no wrong. But then I fell pregnant and it put a stop to everything. I tried to hide it for as long as I could. But when I started showing, I realized I had no choice, but to move back home to Homborsund until the birth.
My parents were not happy about the pregnancy at all and refused to take me in so I moved in with my sister Amalie who lived in Grimstad. I told her everything including who was the father. She was horrified but promised not to say anything. She was meant to adopt my child when it was born so that I could continue my career. And when I’d given birth, I left for Oslo. But, the people I’d worked for before didn’t want me back.
Not able to find new work, I moved back to Grimstad where I raised my son. There was a lot of talk. Even if Amalie didn’t say anything, it somehow came out anyway. And then, mid-summer of the year after Frank was born; Sven disappeared only a few days before he was packing up to leave Gerda for good and come stay with us. I came forward during the police investigations and admitted that we’d had an affair. Karen, who was left in Homborsund, told me that Gerda had been mad when she found out about frank. She even made Karen forward a letter to me which begged me to let her adopt him. She had had miscarriage after miscarriage and so believed she couldn’t have children. she later had a son who died as an infant. I refused to give up my son of course. Why should I? She had no rights to him whatsoever. Gerda kept sending me threatening letters. That she’d come and get him. That he should be rightfully hers since her husband was the father.”

“I finally had enough when Gerda one day showed up at my door and tried to take Frank with her. Frank was only two then and didn’t understand what was happening. He cried and clung to me for dear life. In the end, a neighbour got tired of the noise and rang the police. I had to move, or I was scared of what would happen to Frank. So I started applying for jobs in Kristiansand and got a typist job for a small solicitor’s firm. I changed my surname to my mother’s maiden name. Frank had his father’s name. I couldn’t bear to change it. But Gerda no longer bothered us. I guess she’d remarried by then and I know she adopted a boy after her own child died.” ”
“Frank grew up, did well in school and got a job at Grimstad daily news when he finished his journalism exam. I begged him not to go. To look for jobs in Kristiansand which is a larger town, but he wanted the job and so he went. And he did well. He stayed on for years, met your mother and they married. I was horrified to find out that your mother was from Homborsund, but what could I do? Only hope that Gerda wouldn’t bother me again.
One day, Frank was looking for something in the archives when he came across the obituary of his father. He knew who his father was. But apart from a few questions, he’d never really been that interested. But the article sparked curiosity in him since it mentioned that this was the third mid-summer disappearance in Homborsund. So he started playing detective. On the day he disappeared, he called me to let me know he thought he’d know who’d committed two of the three murders. He also mentioned something about baby Sven not having died of a heart failure, but that he’d tell me more when he saw me as the phone was not a safe medium to share such information. He was on his way to mine when he disappeared. And I haven’t seen him since.

A single tear ran down Arlette’s cheek as she uttered those last words.
“Do you miss him?” I asked.
“Terribly. You get used to living without someone. And I’m able to have good and bad days now. But I’ve never managed to be truly happy after Frank disappeared. It’s been lonely you know. Sure I had friends, even lovers, but I didn’t want to tell any of them about the past.And I cut ties with most people in Homborsund except my sister Karen who never married, nor had children. You have know idea how happy I am to have you in my life. And I can’t wait to get to know you better.”

On the way home later that day I was so deep in thought that I nearly missed my bus stop. Astrid had come in with tea and cupcakes after Arlette had told her story and we had enjoyed it in comfortable silence. There was so much more I wanted to ask my newly found grandma. –But she looked tired and I decided to let her rest.
“Promise to come back soon,” she’d said when I got up to leave.
“I’ll come back this Sunday and I’ll bring Emma too.” I promised. I was already looking forward to it. In the meantime, I had to arrange another meeting with Merete. She’d love to hear what I’d just found out today about my father and brother.

Episode 9. Looking for grandma

Looking for grandma
June 9th.
The next morning I went online to see if I could track down my paternal grandmother Arlette Johnsen. I was hopeful, but I was prepared to be disappointed. Just because Gerda hadn’t seen any obituaries in any of the local or national papers, didn’t necessarily mean she was alive. She could have died in another part of Norway, or even abroad.
The amazing thing about Norway is that all information about individuals is public. If you want to know somebody’s address of phone number, all you need to do is to make an internet search, or use a smartphone app, and voilà. I often wished it was like that in London the times I managed to misplace work contacts. But with social media, finding people had become easier all over the world. But the crazy thing about this public information thing is that you can even check how much money a person makes by going to the tax registers. It’s perhaps handy if you’re hunting for a millionaire spouse, but otherwise I’m not really a fan of that particular thing.
I found three Arlette Johnsens on 1881. The first one Arlette Frydenlund Johnsen was a photographer in Bergen. The second, Arlette Cathrine Johnsen a private insurance consultant in Oslo. The third one Arlette Johnsen Lund was not my grandmother either, but a school teacher in Bodø.
I did a more general google search and found two of the three Arlettes on Facebook. I added the word obituary to the search, but nothing came up.
I was a little bit at a loss of what to do now. I didn’t like giving up after just ten minutes of detective work, but I really wasn’t sure where to look now. I thought of the possibility that she could be in an old people’s home somewhere. Or even that her addresses and phone number was protected. That can happen if someone for some reason cannot be listed in the main register for several reasons. Celebrities or abuse victims for example had secret phone numbers. I got up and made a cup of tea while I was thinking. Of what to do next. I was stubborn, and I didn’t want to pull in help from Merete or Markus on something which should be that easy.
As the caffeine slowly entered my system, I decided that the best thing I could do after first doing a last search on people called Arlette, was to ring around every old people’s home in Grimstad, Lillesand and Kristiansand.
Not having any luck with the Arlettes, I started phoning twenty minutes later. At first it was awkward. But the more homes I spoke to, the easier it got. There was no Arlette Johnsens or Arlette anything else for that matter. By the time I got to the absolute last home on my list, my hope had gone. I replied a
“Please, could I talk to Arlette Johnsen?” in a flat, tired voice to the cheery “Hello” from the lady on the line.
“Arlette Johnsen. May I ask whose calling?”
“What? I mean, sure. My name is Sandra Martinsen. I am….” I swallowed, not believing that I was soon, perhaps, going to talk to my paternal grandmother. “I’m her granddaughter.”
The woman at the other end of the line was quiet for a couple of seconds.
“Is that so?” she asked finally.
“I didn’t know until recently,” I said. “I am the daughter of her son Frank who disappeared in 1986.”
I wasn’t sure if the nurse, I assumed she was a nurse, knew about that. But it was worth trying.
“I know about Frank,” she said. Arlette talks about him sometimes. On bad days she cries for him and wish he could come visit her.”
Her words made me feel very sad for the grandmother I had yet to meet. At the same time, I was thrilled that she was alive.
“Has, is she getting a lot of visitors?” I asked.
“Sadly no. Arlette is a lovely lady. It’s a mystery to me that such a gentle soul doesn’t have family and friends who care for her.”
“I would really love to see her.”
“I’m sure that’s possible. But let me talk to her first and tell her you called. I will call you back.”
“Sure. I understand. It’s not every day granddaughters pop up like that,” I said with a little laugh.
I gave her the number to Emma’s landline and was grateful that she still had it, though most people had gotten rid of theirs. I really needed to get a Norwegian sim card so I could call and use the internet when out too, I thought. Doing this kind of work without being mobile was slowing me down as it bound me to the house. Calling to and from my British number was just too expensive.
Astrid, the nurse at the home where Arlette lived, called half an hour later.
“I’ve got Arlette here with me. She would like to ask you a few questions.”
“Yes, of course,” I said and sat down on a kitchen chair.
“Hello?”
The voice belonged to an elderly woman and the hello was more like a question than a statement.
“Hi. You must be Arlette Johnsen,” I said with the most reassuring voice I could master.
“I am,” she said. “And you are Sandra, my granddaughter.”
This came out as a statement rather than a question.
“I am,” I said. “I realize how very strange this situation is. I mean, here I call you after having been gone for nearly thirty years without ever contacting you or anything.”
“I understand.” Arlette’s voice was friendly. “I know that you couldn’t possibly have been in touch before. But I am very glad you called now. And I’m positively surprised that you found me. You’re like your father, Frank. He managed to dig up the most impossible things from the most impossible places. He was a journalist. I had a feeling you would find me one day.”
“Oh really?” I was stunned to hear this.
“Yes, absolutely. Where are you now?”
“I’ staying with my aunt Emma in Homborsund.”
“Emma. I remember her. Though I didnn’t really meet her that many times. She wouldn’t know if I’m dead or alive. Most people I know don’t know. Their either dead, or I have no wish to let them know. When can you come?”
Today! I wanted to shout. I looked at the time and realized I’d better come tomorrow instead. I was meeting Emma at her job in a couple of hours to help with the preparations for a summer party that was to be held this coming Friday. The party this year would be extra big as the company celebrated 40 years and the first ever CEO would be there. There would even be guests from abroad who had worked for or with the company in the past and the present. Funny how many round birthdays there had been in the past 8 days, I thought.
“How about tomorrow?” I said.
“Tomorrow would be absolutely delightful. I can’t wait to see you. But tell me one thing. I know my granddaughter Sandra has a tactile birthmark. Can you tell me where yours is?”
“On my neck. I have a tactile birthmark at the back of my neck.”
I almost asked how she knew about it, but realized she must remember it from when I was a baby. I hated that particular birthmark and had wanted to surgically remove it. But I’d been told it wasn’t serious, or damaging enough, so it was still there.
“You really are my granddaughter,” she said sounding relieved. “I’ll see you tomorrow then Sandra at 11:00. We have a lot to talk about.”
I got up to get ready for travelling in to Grimstad. As I looked out of the kitchen window to see the temperature and assess the weather, I could swear I saw someone retract very quickly from my line of vision. Probably the shadows playing a trick on me. Although it made me feel uneasy.