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“It’s beautiful, that’s for sure,” her mother had said with a sigh, feeling the train of fine chiffon. “But you don’t want it to be too showy.”

The village seamstress had crouched at Ingeborg’s feet to pin up the front hem to ankle height, so that the shoes would be visible. Before setting to work with needle and thread, she had asked Ingeborg to spin around a couple of times, so she could check the hem was even.

“The hem has to be shorter at the front there,” she had explained. “That’s the latest thing.”


Four well-groomed schoolboys in black suits bearing a heavy burden. The small, white-painted open casket contains Efraim, their friend and neighbor. Efraim, a little boy named for his grandfather. Efraim, a little boy who was only three years old.


My dear Artur its so nice I am feeling a bit beter here and everyone is so kind and nice I think and I get to go out every day which is so nice and I can knit socks and stop and read I also have a hymbook and other books as well the doctor comes to see me sometime the Pastor came to see me it was so nice he said I will be forgiven for what I done which I am very sorry for I think about the children all the time and about you but forgive me I didnt know what I was doing O God if it could be undone.


Doctor Goldkuhl notices the three books on the wall shelf in the corner.

“Do you like reading, Mrs. Andersson?” he asks, squeezing the thin, dark green book with gold lettering that is out on the table.

“God has forsaken me,” whispers Ingeborg without looking up.

“I shouldn’t think so,” replies the doctor. “You mustn’t believe everything that Pastor Salvén writes. Tomorrow, I shall bring you something more enjoyable from the library, Ingeborg.”


The twin towers of Växjö cathedral, rusty red in color, ascend into the gray vault of the sky. Large snowflakes are falling around them, like glitter in a snow globe. The hill leading up to the cathedral is littered with smoking torches left behind by the congregation after the early morning service. Ingeborg is sitting up in bed, thumbing at an old letter from Dr. Oliver Ottosson, chief physician at Restad hospital, as the church bells ring in Christmas day.

English translation by Tom Ellett
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