Sunday, 14 June 2015
Chapter one (segment one), 2016, August, Ulf
They sat in her room. Christina's futon lay rolled up against a wall and Ulf used it as a backrest. His seat was the tatami mats, and she sat between his legs with him as her backrest.
Her hair smelled fantastic even in the sweltering August heat, and he could stay here forever feeling her fingers caressing the backside of his hands as he hugged her.
The talk, however, had taken a turn for the worse.
“I have family. It's problematic.” He hugged her closer.
“How so? And you never told me.”
They were sharing memories again. In Swedish, but no longer distant memories from Sweden.
“Well, my daughter...”
“Daughter!” Christina turned and pushed herself away from him. Stunned rage played in her face. “You got a kid here?”
Ulf blushed. “N, no, it's n, not that way...” he stuttered. I'm an idiot!
“She's my guardian.”
Careful now Ulf. Tread lightly or she'll never forgive you. “I was assigned a legal guardian as part of my background story in this world.”
Christina's jealousy abated. A little. Very little.
“You never told me.”
“You never asked.” And that was a supremely stupid thing to say.
Once again Christina looked like she was going to explode. A moment later he received a hard slap. I deserved that.
It took him the better part of half an hour to calm her down, and he had to run after her into the streets before she agreed to listen to him. By the end of it it was all out in the open.
“How old is she?”
They were standing beneath some trees and Ulf's clothes were soaked with sweat. No cosy hugging on her floor.
“Thirty. Works as a beat cop, or however the system works here in Japan. Uniformed anyway.”
“Your legal guardian is a police officer, and she's your daughter?”
“She's thirty,” Ulf said glumly. He knew it didn't really make sense.
He had sweated all through his casuals and was drenched from the inside out. Now hugging was out of the question, and even though he had a hard time letting go of Christina, the heat outside proved that her asthmatic air conditioner made some difference. Hugging her he'd soak her clothes as well.
“But why?” she asked, and Ulf could see that Christina was fishing for a reason.
“Amaya, my guardian… She kind of resembles...” How do you manage to stay fresh in this heat?
“Oh, oh. Sorry. I didn't know you had kids that early.”
“I didn't. Ten years ago, well, eleven now.” Ulf went silent for a moment. It was still hard to talk about, but Christina had demanded to know. “She was eight.”
Maybe it was some kind of female instinct. Maybe they had just grown close enough for her to understand, but she flinched and reached for his lips with her fingers. “No! Don't say anything!”
“If she had grown up. I've always wondered what she would look like. And, and, with black hair instead of blond, just maybe...” Shit, I shouldn't have said anything! I got angry and now I hurt you.
“Ulf, please! Don't say anything, please!”
I'm a moron. Christina, please forgive me!
And so he stayed silent, but they both knew, and a small wedge crept between them. Somehow the loss of a child is worse for those who never had one, and this loss was something they couldn't share.