That wee boy.
That poor wee boy.
On the short walk back from daycare, Alfie dropped off in his buggy, and I managed to get him into the flat and onto his camp bed without waking him. I flicked on the kettle as I absentmindedly typed in our address. The teacher flinched when she heard it. I was sure of that. I was curious. The kettle boiled and flicked off, forgotten, as the page filled with hit after hit.
I carried my laptop into the living room, cringing as I stepped on the creaky floorboard that spelled disaster for every second nap, but mercifully, Alfie didn’t wake. I sank back onto the lumpy sofa, horror churning and swirling in my stomach as I read.
No wonder that poor woman reacted to our address. She must still have nightmares about what she found that morning. The mildly comical English offered by the translation plugin did nothing to dampen the horror of what happened, right here in this flat. In the room where Alfie was snoozing that minute. A wave of sheer panic crashed over me and I fought the urge to dash into the bedroom, grab Alfie and make a run for it.
To anywhere. A hotel. London. Scotland. Home, wherever that is.
Josefin hasn’t changed much, I thought, looking at the photo of her being led out of this building and into a police car, supported by a tall, shaved headed police officer. A lump formed in my throat as I looked at the accompanying photo, a nursery portrait of Oskar Erlandsson, his messy curls and guileless blue eyes so similar to Alfie’s.
I couldn’t quite get a handle on what exactly happened, sensationalist media reports would probably be hard enough to follow even if I could read them properly. I grabbed my phone and texted Catriona to ask if Mattias would be home that evening, maybe I could email the links to him and get him to explain over FaceTime. But I’d understood enough.
I walked over to the window and pressed my face against the glass, grateful for its coolness as my brain whirred with disturbing thoughts.
Josefin came to the apartment to check on Oskar after he didn’t show up for nursery, and found his mother – Liv – alone, comatose with shock. But no Oskar. The mother couldn’t say a word, hasn’t said a word since, but a nationwide search was called off after a witness came forward to say they had seen the mother dumping a large rucksack from a bridge not far from here on the night Oskar disappeared.
A wave of revulsion rose up in me as I thought of little Oskar in the rucksack. I read once that it’s impossible to commit suicide by ducking your head under water. However much your conscious mind might want to stay under, the primal urge to breathe is too powerful. Your body will fight for air whatever your mind thinks it wants. Surely the urge to protect your child is just as strong?
As I watched people scurrying home on the frosty pavement below, it suddenly occurred to me that the crying baby was silent.
He had been silent for over a year.