Ulf rode his bike to the square feeling giddy with joy. It was over an hours worth of cycling, but it was worth it if he could have a full day with Christina to himself.
Tomorrow would be the traditional dating day for teenagers, but Saturday morning wasn't as packed, so he brought the bike all the way to the statue and leaned on it while he waited.
Half an hour early was maybe a bit excessive, but he didn't want to risk being late and last time she had waited for him here. Besides the morning was warm, and he enjoyed watching the street-life even when there wasn't all that much of it to watch.
There was something he needed to clear with himself as well. Maria. The reason he flinched whenever Christina came too close was because he felt he was cheating on his wife, but she was lost forever in that other world. Did it count as cheating if they could never meet? Did it count as breaking up, or divorcing, if you walked out the door one day never able to return?
And he couldn't even send her a message. He couldn't let her know he was fine, or at least mostly fine. He couldn't tell his children that he wasn't lying dead in a ditch.
And because of all that he couldn't tell Christina that he loved her. But he did. Maybe more than life itself. And there was that other thing. She couldn't know how he lived for her, because she had become his reason for living. Guilty thoughts of Maria be damned, and there just was no way he could load Christina with that kind of a burden. No one should feel responsible for someone else's life. OK, your own children, but not a grown up person.
Ulf chewed on his lower lip. If it made him look girlie so be it. He hadn't cared much the last thirty years, and his attitude garnered him both enemies and admirers during his university years. It permanently built him a reputation as someone with integrity. He had spent half his life deserving it.
Lost in thoughts he didn't notice how half an hour had passed, so now the real wait started. Last time she had been early. He could as well kill some time while he waited, so he rolled up his arms and gave his bike some much needed maintenance. It didn't make him too dirty and it was kind of fun working with his hands for a change.
When he was done there was still no sign of Christina, and now she was half an hour late. Ulf called her but only got the message that her unit was off service. He emailed her in case she could read but not talk.
Another half an hour passed, and another, but she never arrived. After two hours and five failed attempts to call her he gave up. By now he was more than a little afraid and also a bit angry, so he rode to her apartment and knocked on her door in a very pre mobile phone era style. There was no response but her door was locked.
Ulf was scared enough now to entertain the idea of entering by force, but it was unlikely she'd be inside unable to hear him hammering on her door, so in the end he abandoned that idea.
He did call Kyoko, but she knew nothing. On a whim he called Ryu and Midori as well, but neither of them had heard anything.
There was nothing to do. He walked down the stairs, locked his bike and returned back up. Some time he could spend looking over the railings, but there was nothing to see but the equally dull apartment complex across the street and in the end he sat down outside Christina's door and prepared himself for a long wait.