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Rites of Spring by Anders de la Motte

Rites of Spring by Anders de la Motte

Author:Anders de la Motte [Motte, Anders de la]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Bonnier Publishing Fiction
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00


49

T

he rest of the afternoon passes in a fog. David comes home, they change their clothes, get in the car, drive to David’s parents. It’s as if Thea is observing the whole thing from the outside.

All her defences have been torn down – because of a stupid TV feature. The latest in a series of very bad decisions she’s made over the past year.

She shouldn’t have married David, shouldn’t have moved down here, shouldn’t have stood there on the castle steps, shouldn’t have let herself be persuaded to appear on camera.

‘Are you OK?’ David asks as they arrive. ‘You’re very quiet.’

‘I’m just tired.’

‘We don’t have to go in if it’s too much for you. Do you want me to take you home?’

He sounds as if he means it, and she fights the urge to say yes.

‘No, it’s fine. I’ll feel better when I’ve had something to eat.’

*

They greet David’s parents. Thea has to force herself to hug her mother-in-law. This is all Ingrid’s fault: the move, the restaurant, the TV feature. It was all her idea.

But you went along with it. For David’s sake . . .

She would like to tell Margaux to shut up. In fact, she would like to tell them all to shut up so that she can sort out the mess inside her head.

Just as David had said, Nettan is there. She’s a smart woman, she’s worked all over the world, and she’s both friendly and polite. Thea does her best to be present and friendly in return, and yet there is immediately a tension between them. Perhaps it’s because Nettan calls David’s parents Aunt Ingrid and Uncle Bertil. Or because she touches David’s arm in a special way from time to time.

David notices the strained atmosphere, flaps around them in a way that Thea doesn’t like.

‘I’m sorry if I stole David away from you the other day,’ Nettan says. ‘I could have taken a taxi, but he insisted on picking me up from Kastrup.’

‘No problem,’ Thea mutters. She is trying to be pleasant, but it’s difficult. Her head is spinning, not only because of the letter, but everything she’s read over the past few days. Every time she looks at Nettan, she can hear the twelve-year-old girl’s voice in the interviews.

‘Do you often visit Tornaby?’ she manages to ask.

Nettan shakes her head. ‘No. My father died a while ago, and by then he and my mother had already moved to Malmö. This is the first time I’ve been back for years. I couldn’t wait to get away, for various reasons.’ She pulls a face which is hard to interpret. ‘Mum lives with me in Switzerland now; she helps out with the children when I’m away.’ Nettan takes a sip of her drink. ‘How about you? How are you finding life out here?’

‘Good,’ Thea replies.

Nettan leans a little closer. ‘You don’t have to be polite. David’s told me about your travels. You’re restless, just like me. It’s difficult to stay in one place for very long. So why would you want to settle here, in the middle of nowhere?’

The comment surprises Thea.



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