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Horror Stories from Denmark Box set

Willow Rose



  Willow Rose

  Copyright Willow Rose 2013

  Published by Jan Sigetty Boeje

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.

  This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

  Cover design by Jan Sigetty Boeje

  Special thanks to my editor Jean Pacillo

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  Willow Rose


  I'M DOING my Zumba class. I'm sweating heavily while glancing anxiously at the baby carriage on the other side of the window where my princess is sleeping heavily next to all the other babies who have come with their mommies to the Mommy-and-Me Zumba Extraordinaire that the local fitness center in Karrebaeksminde hosts every Monday morning. Monday, naturally, because they know Monday is the day every mom wants to start a new life of exercise and diet. The carriage is not moving. She's still asleep I think relieved while I push myself and dance to the fast rhythms trying hard to sweat off the butt giving birth to my third child has given me.

  I'm forty-one, I'm not tired as my mother says I am. I have enough energy to do it all. I know I do.

  When I come home, the baby is still sleeping. I eat an organic, low-carb, fat-reduced lunch and drink a smoothie made from beet, spinach, lemon and apple. I drink a skinny-latte afterwards while reading the Zeeland Times. My old friend from high school Rebekka Franck has an article in the paper about a fire in Neastved, the biggest city close to us. I read it feeling good, happy and energized from the exercise and healthy food. I detect a typo in the third line of the article. It annoys me. I pick up my iPhone and call the newspaper to let them know. They tell me that they are very sorry, and that they'll make sure to tell whoever is responsible. I hang up feeling good about myself. If people make a mistake they need to know.

  The baby is making sounds, I pick her up and bring her to the changing table. Quiet, cleanliness and regularity those are the keywords to having a baby. I change the diaper and tickle her stomach. Josephine is three months old. I gave birth to her on a Sunday after only three hours of labor. I had a natural birth. No sedatives. Just me and nature. I gave birth in water in my own house. The mid-wife came to help, but I didn't need her much. I didn't even need my husband. Like the two first times I did it by myself. I took control of the birth. It's my body, I told them when they wanted to discuss anesthesia. I told them I found it repulsive that they wanted to sedate me, I told them that women through all times, in all kinds of countries had done this without being sedated, so why shouldn't I?

  I am not a natural blond, but I do color it which I'll admit to if asked, but I won't reveal that I recently had a laser-treatment remove the facial hair that is beginning to grow on my chin and upper lip.

  My baby is laughing and smiling, but all I see is the weird blemish in her forehead that won’t go away. Strawberry mark, the mid-wife had told me after the baby had arrived and I saw the mark. "It'll eventually disappear on its own." But it hadn't. Not yet. I'm thinking tumor and look it up on the Internet while the baby is in the playpen. An article suggests that scientists don't agree on the subject. In some babies they even keep growing, some parents have them frozen and cut off when the baby is six months old. I consider it. I look up doctors who will do that for me and write their names down. I put the note on top of the other notes, I've made the last week.

  I get up and walk to the kitchen. I drink a glass of water, one of eight I have decided to drink every day to make sure I get enough water. The baby is whining, I pick her up and give her my breast. I read a magazine about educating children while my baby drinks her milk. I have breastfed all of my kids till they were more than a year as is recommended by the Danish health department. To give your baby the best start, the flyer from the hospital said.

  I read about sibling jealousy and decide to spend more time with my older children when they come home from school. I think about my husband and plan to give him a blow-job tonight after reading another article about the difficulties relationships experience once there is a new baby in the house. It's been three weeks since we last had sex, I count by looking in my calendar in the phone where I have marked the last time. It's about time we get intimate for the sake of our marriage.

  The baby sucks on my breast and it hurts slightly. Such a precious time, I think to myself. And so brief, when they're all dependent on you and your breasts. I caress my princess' thin hair while I sing to her.

  Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,

  When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,

  When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,

  And down will come baby, cradle and all.


  MY OLDEST daughter is the first to come home. I have just put the baby down for her afternoon nap when I hear the front door open. I jump down the stairs and welcome her as she enters.

  "How was your day, sweetie?" I ask.

  Amalie throws her bag in the hallway and her jacket on top of it. She gives me a look, walks past me to the kitchen while grumbling "Whatever."

  I pick her jacket up from the floor and put it on a hanger. I brush it off lightly and remove a couple of spots with my nail, scratching them off before I put it in the closet. I place her backpack by the foot of the stairs so she can grab it before she runs upstairs to do her homework. I hear her go through the refrigerator and feel my hands shake lightly at the thought of the mess she is about to make. I calm myself down by counting to ten a few times before I brace myself and walk over to her.

  "Any news from school?" I ask keeping my smile on even when everything inside of me frozen by the look of the counter where she is now making herself a sandwich.

  She looks at me like I'm a complete idiot.

  "Like what?"

  I shrug and try to not let the tone in her voice bother me. I close the refrigerator door and stand by the sink. "So there’s nothing new to tell me? Any cute guys we should talk about?"

  Amalie rolls her eyes at me and sighs frustrated. "Please don't pretend to be interested in my life, Mom. It's gross."

  "How can it be gross?"

  She sighs again. "It just is. It's too much all of a sudden."

  I tilt my head. "All of a sudden? I've always been interested in your life. You know that."

  Amalie scoffs. "As if ..."

  "What do you mean?"

  "Ah come on. You and Daddy haven't been the least bit interested in me and Jacob ever since ..." Amalie pauses and looks at me. Then she shakes her head. "Never mind."

  "Ever since what exactly, Amalie?" I ask. "Since I had the baby?"

  Amalie shrugs. "Yeah. You know. Whatever."

  I nod and smile to let her know I understand and respect her feelings just like the article told me to do. Jealousy was common in the older children and could be very difficult for them to express. It is my job as a mother to help them put words to their feelings.

>   "So what you're saying is I don't pay you and your brother enough attention. Is that it?" I say to help her find the words.

  Amalie shrugs again. "Well, I mean it's only natural that you don't, with all that has been going on and all. It's just ... well it's been three months now and ... well I guess I'm wondering how long this is going to keep on?"

  I nod again understandingly. "I know sweetie. It must have been hard on the two of you."

  Amalie nods slowly. "Yeah. It kind of has been. I mean with everything going on at home and all, it's been pretty hard to focus on school. So ... I guess what I'm saying is ..." Amalie looks into my eyes, then hesitates. "You know what? I'll just talk to Dad about it."

  "You can tell me anything, Amalie. You know that," I say. "I'm here for you."

  "Are you sure you can handle it?"

  I smile at my daughter's great compassion for me. Worry about me just because I haven't been sleeping much lately. Yes I am tired from being up several times at night and breastfeeding, but I can certainly find the strength to listen to my daughter's problems. "I'm stronger than I seem," I say.

  "Well ... It seems I might be ... failing math."

  I feel my fingers grow numb. My daughter reads it on my face.

  "My teacher says it's okay. I can take a summer class and there will be no problem after that. It's okay, mom. It really is."

  I restrain myself, but my nostrils won't relax, neither will the vein in my forehead that my daughter is now staring at.

  "Mom? Are you okay?" she asks.

  I close my eyes and count to ten, then count again and force pictures of relaxing places, long, white beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, nice clean hotels with nice service and rose petals on the nicely made bed. I open my eyes again and look at my daughter. Then I reach out and touch her cheek gently. "Of course I'm okay," I say. "Now what did you say the name of your teacher was?"


  I GO directly to the front office and ask to speak with Mr. Berendsen, my daughter's math teacher. They tell me he has gone home for the day but will be back tomorrow. I smile and nod politely, then leave the high school, running down the street pushing my sleeping baby in the carriage in front of me.

  I know where he lives. It's right next to the school, so I decide to leave the car by the school. A few seconds later I'm by his door. I park the baby carriage in his yard, then walk to the window and look in. I spot Mr. Berendsen inside his kitchen preparing dinner. He's alone. I bang on the window. Mr. Berendsen jumps inside of the house. I am grinning as he spots me. I point at the door. He hesitates, then walks towards it. He opens it slightly.

  "Yes? Can I help you with anything?" he asks.

  "As a matter of fact, I believe you can," I say and walk closer. He seems afraid of me. "You're my daughter's teacher. Amalie Rasmussen?"

  Mr. Berendsen relaxes and opens the door further. "Ah, Amalie. In three a?"

  "Yes, that's her. I'm her mother. My name is Lisa," I say and we shake hands. Mr. Berendsen seems more relaxed now and he invites me inside. I accept and follow him into the kitchen.

  "I'm in the middle of preparing dinner, so if you won't mind I'll be continuing while we talk."

  "Having company over?" I ask and sit at a kitchen chair.

  "No, just for myself. I'm alone. Have been ever since the wife left me two years ago."

  I nod and smile like I know how that feels, which I don't, cause I have never been divorced. I would never let that happen to me.

  "So what happened?" I ask.

  "What do you mean?"

  "Why did your wife leave you?"

  Mr. Berendsen seems startled by the question, but I pretend I don't notice. I look around the small kitchen and spot dust and dog hairs in the corner. I pick some up, thinking this house needs cleaning. It annoys me that people live like this. Filthy. Disgusting. Lazy. I look to see if I can locate the dog.

  "Why?" he asks.

  "Why what?"

  "Why do you want to know that?"

  I shrug with a smile. "Just curious." I pause and look at the man while he is chopping carrots. "Maybe you cheated on her?"

  The knife slips in Mr. Berendsen's hand and he almost cuts himself. I look at him awaiting my answer.

  "You are extraordinarily direct," he says. "But if you must know then yes, I had an affair, but only briefly. She had one that lasted for several years and now she is living with him." He goes back to chopping carrots.

  "I thought it would be something like that," I say.

  Mr. Berendsen stops chopping again and looks at me. "Why?" he asks.

  "Why what?"

  "Why did you think it might be something like that? " he asks gesticulating wildly with the knife in his hand making quotation signs.

  "Be careful," I say. "Don't cut yourself."

  Mr. Berendsen calms down and puts the knife on the table. Then he sighs and looks at me. "Tell me again, why did you come here?"

  "Oh. It was about my daughter," I say. "She tells me you're failing her."

  "Well she's the one failing the class. She's been very unfocused lately and hasn't done well on the tests. I'm sorry, but I have to fail her. I told her she could take a summer class to make up for it."

  "Yes. I heard that. But you see there is the problem that we're planning on going to Paris all summer, to visit an old friend of mine who lives outside the city in a big wine-castle and who has children the same age. We’ve had this all planned out and now ... well we can't just change something that has already been planned, now can we? You see my problem, Mr. Berendsen?"

  "It's just for a week. If she passes the test, she'll be fine. You'll still be able to go to France for several weeks."

  I slam my clenched fist onto the table. Mr. Berendsen jumps. "Exactly how many weeks we have isn't the problem here, Mr. Berendsen. It's the fact that we have to CHANGE our plans, that you force us to rearrange everything just for you, just to make you happy. This is what is wrong with this world today. NO one respects anything or anyone any more, everything is just me, me and me. It's all about what I can get out of it and someone simply has to put a stopper for this behavior, don't you think Mr. Berendsen? I mean how are the young people to learn how to respect other people's plans if all they see is that we can just CHANGE it to fit everyone's need and do whatever they lust after whenever they lust for it. Not everything in life is like a marriage that you can just CHANGE and throw away like you want to, Mr. Berendsen. Some things have to be steady in life; some things just can't be CHANGED!"

  I am standing up now, without even realizing it. Mr. Berendsen is staring at me. I close my eyes for a second while pressing my gloved hands against each other. When I open my eyes again, I'm smiling at him. "So you must understand that you need to let my daughter pass. Do we understand each other? I think we do."

  "Mrs. Rasmussen. I simply can't let your daughter pass this class just because you've planned a trip to France this summer."

  I walk closer to him. He holds the knife out in front of him. I can tell he's afraid of me. "You can't or you won't?" I ask.

  He never answers. I'm thinking tenderloin for dinner tonight.


  THE BABY keeps me awake almost all night and I attend to her, sit in the nursery and rock her in the rocking chair while singing softly to her. It helps her calm down, but she doesn't fall asleep. When the sun comes up I'm too tired to get up and I ask Christian to take care of the older kids, to make their lunches and drive them to school. He does so without arguing. I tell myself I should give him that blow-job soon, since I was too tired last night. The baby is finally sleeping, and I try to get some rest, but it's too bright outside for me to fall asleep. I stay in bed and listen while the house becomes quiet. After that I feel restless and take a shower.

  I walk downstairs and pick up the paper. I read it while sipping my skinny-latte and gulping down a smoothie made from raspberries, rice milk, honey, ginger, flaxseed and lemon juice. Rebekka Franck has a story in the paper about a man
who had acid thrown in his face in an accident at work and is now in the hospital. I find a grammatical error almost at the end of the article and call the newspaper to let them know. The lady answering tells me she can't see what it is, but tells me she will let whoever is responsible know. I hang up. I drink the rest of my smoothie and go to the bathroom. The baby is still sleeping. I should get some sleep too, but can't seem to rest. The house is dirty and needs to be cleaned. I can't seem to relax when the house is filthy. So I clean it. I wash the windows, mop the floors and polish the silverware I inherited from my grandmother when she died. I think I can still smell her sickness on it. I rub it again and again trying to get the smell off, but without success. I still feel restless when the house is cleaned. I think I need to get out of the house, so I grab the baby and put her in the carriage without waking her. I go for a stroll in the city and feel better. I walk through a park where I meet other mothers. They smile at me and I smile back. Children are playing at the playground, but I am afraid they're going to wake up my princess, so I keep walking. My mother calls me and asks me out for lunch. We meet at a café and have a salad. I don't eat the croutons or the bread that comes with it to not get too many carbs. The chicken tastes good but a little dry.

  "Your dad and I went to the opera last night," she says. "They play Il Trittico these days. It's splendid. You and Christian should go soon. Get out a little you know. It would do you good."

  I nod while chewing. Discreetly she lets me know I have something on my lip. I wipe it off with my napkin.

  "We had dinner at Restaurant Bojesen just before we went. It wasn't Noma, I tell you that," she laughs. "At least it was better than this," she continues. "I mean what have they done to this poor chicken?"