What is Mine

Free What is Mine by Anne Holt

Book: What is Mine by Anne Holt Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anne Holt
morning, she had no concept of how to avoid waking her mother. Johanne’s alarm clock was a rhythmical dam-di-rum-ram from the living room. But Kristiane wanted nothing to do with her. From six o’clock until eight, she was incommunicado. When Johanne went back to work again, once Kristiane’s illness was no longer life-threatening, it had been a complete nightmare getting the girl ready for day care every morning. In the end, she gave up. Kristiane just had to be left to her own devices for those two hours. The university was a flexible employer. And what’s more, when she had applied to teach only every second semester, this favor had been granted until Kristiane was ten. Her friends envied her—enjoy it while you can, was their advice; you can read the papers in peace and wake up properly before starting your day. The problem was that Kristiane had to be watched. Who knew what she might get up to? Johanne knew that Isak was more laid-back. She had found him fast asleep on a couple of occasions, with Kristiane pottering about on her own.
    And now she had done exactly the same.
    She looked over at her watch, confused. Quarter to nine. She threw back the duvet.
    “Mommy,” Kristiane said cheerfully. “Mommy’s getting up for her Kristiane.”
    The girl was standing in the doorway to the living room, already dressed, albeit in a ghastly pink sweater she’d been given by her grandmother and a pair of green velvet pants, with a tartan skirt on top. Her hair was done up in five braids. But she did have clothes on, so Johanne tried to smile.
    “Well done, you’ve gotten dressed all by yourself,” she said sleepily. “Mommy must have slept in.”
    “Slept in kept in.”
    Kristiane came closer and then crept up into her mother’s lap. She laid her cheek on her breast and started to suck her thumb. Johanne gently stroked her daughter’s back with her right hand, up and down, up and down. When they sat like this, these moments of intimacy that were impossible to force or predict, Johanne could hardly breathe. She felt her daughter’s warmth through the pink sweater, drank in the sweet smell of her hair, her breath, her skin. It was all she could do not to crush her.
    “My little Kristiane,” she whispered into the braids.
    The telephone rang. Kristiane pulled back, slipped down from her mother’s lap, and padded out of the room.
    “Hello?”
    “Did I wake you?”
    “Of course you didn’t wake me, Mother. I’ve got Kristiane here this week.”
    Johanne tried to grab her robe. The telephone cord wasn’t long enough. She wrapped the duvet around her shoulders instead. There was a draft from the windows.
    “Your father is worried.”
    Johanne wanted to snap: You are the one who’s worried. She checked herself with a resigned sigh and tried to sound cheerful.
    “Oh? Worried about me? There’s no need for that.”
    “What about your behavior the other day? On TV no less . . . In fact, he even lies awake at night and wonders . . . Is everything alright, dear?”
    “Let me talk to Dad.”
    “Your father? He . . . he’s busy at the moment. But listen to me, dear. We thought that maybe a short break would do you good. You’ve had a lot going on recently, what with Kristiane and work and . . . Do you want to come with us to the cottage today? I’m sure you can get time off on Monday and maybe even Tuesday too. You and your father could go fishing and we could go for some lovely walks. . . . And I’ve already spoken to Isak and he’s happy to have Kristiane from today . . .”
    “You’ve spoken to Isak?”
    It was great that she and Isak had a good relationship when it came to Kristiane. And she realized that everyone, not least their daughter, benefited from the fact that Isak also got along well with his ex-in-laws. But there were limits. She had a suspicion that he dropped by to see them every week, with or without Kristiane.
    “Yes, gosh! He’s thinking about buying a new yacht, did you know? Not just

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