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Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Author:Fredrik Backman
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Atria Books
Published: 2020-09-07T16:00:00+00:00


40

There was a knock on the closet door.

Knock, knock, knock.

“Come in!” Anna-Lena called out hopefully, then fell apart when she saw it wasn’t Roger.

“Can I come in?” Julia asked gently.

“What for?” Anna-Lena said with her face turned away, since she considered crying a more private activity than going to the toilet.

Julia shrugged.

“I’m tired of everyone out there. You seem to feel the same. So maybe we have something in common.”

Anna-Lena had to admit to herself that it had been a long time since she’d had anything in common with anyone apart from Roger, and that it sounded rather nice. So she nodded tentatively from her stool, half hidden by a rail full of old-fashioned men’s suits.

“Sorry I’m crying. I know I’m the one who’s in the wrong here.”

Julia looked around for somewhere to sit, and decided to pull out a stepladder from the back of the closet and sit on the lowest step of that. Then she said: “When I got pregnant, the first thing my mom said to me was ‘Now you’ll have to learn to cry in the cupboard, Jules, because children get frightened if you cry in front of them.’ ”

Anna-Lena wiped her tears and stuck her head out from beneath the suits: “That was the first thing your mom said?”

“I was a difficult child, so her sense of humor is rather unusual,” Julia smiled.

Anna-Lena joined in with a weak smile. She nodded warmly toward Julia’s stomach.

“Are you doing okay? I mean, you and… the little one?”

“Oh, yes, thanks. I’m peeing thirty-five times a day, I hate socks, and I’m starting to think that terrorists who make bomb threats against public transport are all pregnant women who hate the way people smell on buses. Because people really do smell disgusting. Would you believe that an old guy sitting next to me the other day was eating salami? Salami! On the bus! But thanks, the little one and I are doing fine.”

“It’s terrible being held hostage when you’re pregnant, I mean,” Anna-Lena said gently.

“Oh, it’s probably just as bad for you. I’ve just got more to carry.”

“Are you very scared of the bank robber?”

Julia shook her head slowly.

“No, I’m not, actually. I don’t even think that pistol’s real, if I’m being honest.”

“Nor me,” Anna-Lena nodded, even though she didn’t really have any idea.

“The police will probably be here any minute, if we just stay calm,” Julia promised.

“I hope so,” Anna-Lena nodded.

“The bank robber actually seems more scared than us.”

“Yes, you’re probably right about that.”

“How are you doing?”

“I… I don’t really know. I’ve hurt Roger badly.”

“Oh, something tells me you’ve put up with far worse from him over the years, so I doubt you’re even yet.”

“You don’t know Roger. He’s more sensitive than people think. He’s just a bit wedded to his principles.”

“Sensitive and principled, you hear that a lot,” Julia nodded, thinking that it was a good description of all the old men who’ve started wars throughout human history.

“Once a young man with a black beard asked if he



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