FACES by Anita Scharf
by Janet Shell Anderson
Christian disappeared last week.
In Jamtland, where I live, in northern Sweden near Lapland, there is a pool of water, a mere. My people have lived near it for a thousand years. It has been hot this summer; I think Christian went to that pool to swim.
My father's house by the forest is a good house, old, safe, sheltered in the spruce trees, protected from the huge stony fells to the west. Beyond our forest, a moorland stretches north. People disappear out there, eaten by the earth. Permafrost is strange; it can devour.
My mother blames me because I talk so much about the moorland and the pool. How strange they are. How beautiful. How in the night the mere glows, burns.
It's called Grendelmere.
So now, I go there to the moorland and the mere to see if Christian can be found. Christian is American, very rich; my mother says she does not know why he ever married me. My mother never thought I would marry. She says I behaved like a whore to get him and am going to Hell. That could be true.
My father's house is very beautiful under the spruce trees, tall and fine. My father's family is well to do, although Jamts are not proud. In a thousand years, we have never been a people to bow the head, never had an aristocracy. My mother says Christian is too rich for me, too good looking, too arrogant, says he will go to Stockholm or New York and find someone else, not a poor Jamt girl like me, with white hair and a strange mark on her arm, like a dragon.
The pool has always been the place I go when I am lonely. I see red deer there, great stags, with beautiful horns, trees with frost, roots of trees that writhe at water's edge as if they are fingers that do not want to touch cursed water. The pool is very black and still. I saw an otter come to the water once and turn away. It gave me a bad feeling seeing that.
I walk and walk through the cool spruce forest at first, through the gentle hills, and then out to the hot moorland, where the wind talks like a Saami, a Laplander, a wild talk, windwords like crooked birch trees and bent grass, a whispering. Voices of the dead, eaten by the land.
He likes to swim. At this latitude we have no night; it is day forever in these summers. He likes to dive deep.
My mother says I have killed him, but I say that he is just lost. My mother's eyes are just like mine, pale, pale blue.
My father liked to swim too. He disappeared a long time ago.