Heidi has to wait a long time before the opening finally comes. They are on their way home from work; they have been talking to each other for several weeks, on their way to and from work, during their coffee breaks, in the lunchroom. Talking without mentioning what Heidi is always thinking about. They are standing at the bus stop, and Asta says, “Should we walk part of the way instead? The weather is so good.” Heidi nods. The weather is not good at all. It has snowed, and now the wind is causing the tiny grains of snow to whirl along the road. The earth is frozen hard; the cold bites one’s cheeks. They walk with their shoulders hunched up to their ears; Asta hobbles along on her crutches. Heidi waits for Asta to begin to speak.
“If I tell you a secret, will you tell me one, too?” asks Asta. Heidi is breathing easily; she feels light and bubbly. She has waited so long.
“I hate my brother,” she says. Then she tells Asta everything.
When Asta is promoted and hugs Heidi at the farewell reception and whispers, “Don’t worry—I didn’t tell them anything about you,” Heidi does not understand. When Sunday comes, and she waits, and the time gets to be one-fifteen and one-thirty, and her brother does not show up, she understands.
He has disappeared.
Now there is nothing between her and the abyss.
Maja Elverkilde is the author of two volumes of short stories, Alt det der er mit (“All That Which Is Mine”) (Borgens Forlag, 2008) and Det dør man af (“This Will Kill You”) (Forlaget Republik, 2014). She lives in a house in a forest in Sweden, an experience about which she has blogged in Danish and English.
Peter Sean Woltemade is an American-born literary translator based in Copenhagen. He is a former Fulbright Graduate Fellow (Berlin) and holds a Ph.D. in medieval German literature from the University of California at Berkeley. His work has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail and The Missing Slate; his translation of Stefanie Ross’s novel Nemesis – Verkaufte Unschuld is currently in production at AmazonCrossing.