On Thursday 22nd November 2012, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is hosting an event to celebrate the literature of Sweden. “Storytellers of Sweden” showcases the bright new talents in Nordic fiction. The Global Herald is publishing a selection of excerpts from top Swedish authors to give readers a taste of modern North European books:
THE SPRING TIDE (SPRINGFLODEN)
© Cilla and Rolf Börjlind, 2012.
Published in Sweden 2012 by Norstedts, by agreement with Grand Agency.
Translation: Per Carlsson
Tonight it was going to be spring tide.
A few hours ago, the full moon had pulled back the intractable sea, exposing a wide expanse of damp seafloor. Small shiny shore crabs darted back and forth across the sand like shimmering reflectors in the steel-blue moonlight. All life on the bottom knew that the sea would wash back in a cyclical interlude.
This was also known to three of the figures down on the beach, they even knew the exact time it would take place, namely in a quarter of an hour. That was when the first gentle waves would wash in and soak everything that had dried out, and soon the pressure from that dark rumbling mass out there would send in wave after wave until the tide had reached its highest point.
The spring tide, when there was almost half a meter of water between the surface and the bottom.
But they had plenty of time yet. The hole they were digging was almost ready, it went straight down, just over a meter and a half, with a diameter of sixty centimetres; the body would be perfectly encapsulated, only the head would reach over the edge.
The head of the fourth figure.
The woman who was standing listlessly a ways off with her hands tied. Her long dark hair moved gently in the breeze, her naked body glistened, her face was muted and without makeup, only her eyes betrayed a strange absence.
Seen from a distance, from the rocks where the boy was hiding, a strange stillness rested over the moonlit beach. Dark figures in the sand way over there, on the other side, what were they doing? The boy didn’t know, but he heard the growing din of the returning sea out there and saw how the naked woman was led out across the wet sand, seemingly offering no resistance, and was lowered into a hole.
He bit his lower lip.
When the first scattered waves rolled in toward land, only the woman’s head was sticking up out of the sand. Her long hair became wet, slowly, a little crab got caught in a dark strand, while she just kept her eyes fixed on the moon, saying nothing.
The figures moved up the beach a little, in among the sand dunes, two of them were anxious, uncertain, the third was calm, all three watching the moonlit head out on the sandy bottom.
When the spring tide came, it came quite quickly, the surf rose higher with every wave, and washed over the woman’s head, into her mouth and up her nose, water was forced down her throat causing her to gag and splutter, when she turned away she got hit in the face by a another wave.
From where he was sitting, the boy could see the water level rising, how the head in the sand disappeared in the surf, then reappeared and disappeared again, two of the figures were gone now, the third one was on their way up the beach. Suddenly there was an awful shriek, it was the woman in the hole who was screaming wildly, the scream echoed across the placid bay, and bounced off toward the rock where the boy was hiding, before the next wave broke over her head and the scream was cut short.
Then the boy ran.
And the sea rose up and settled, dark and shiny, and the last thing the woman felt were another few kicks, tiny, gentle, against the inside of her stomach.”