Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Fractions part 3

I'm becoming better and better at dealing with my panic attacks, learning how to push them aside as soon as I get that first tingling feeling in my stomach, when my heart starts racing and my breath speeds up. Warranted or not, I credit this to Patrik and the changes that the move brought on.
I learn that there is a difference; that there is a sort of tingle that is not at all unpleasant, and doesn't end with me fleeing for my Life.
When I watch Patrik from a far or when I look at his hands, it is with a warmth that spreads from my stomach through my body, warming my heart.
It can be a chill that starts at the bottom of my neck and quickly shoots down my spine and trickles across my shoulders and down my arms. And finally: It can hit me suddenly and with such strength that it stops me in my step and effectively turns my brain into a useless mush, leaving me standing there with my mouth gaping wide whenever I see a guy in a wheelchair or one with a severe limp. Luckily for me, this doesn't happen too often.
-Of course in my conscience I knew all along that I had this feeling but now that I can separate it from the anxiety, fear and stress I’m seeing the pattern more clearly.
Being with Patrik makes me feel good and I have felt that way from the first day in school.
But once I'm aware of it on another level and I find myself actively chasing and looking for that
thrilling feeling, filtering out other things, it’s also making me feel uncomfortable. THIS, this feeling, is this what’s been driving me? Is this feeling controlling me and my actions?
Some days I feel like a predator and a junkie who needs a fix, but the bottom line is; when you are in the moment, it feels really really good. I like it, I deserve it, and I want it.

Everything seems to slow down for Patrik when October ends and November starts. Nano says in his usual dark ways that “The birds take Patriks spirit with them when they move south.” It's as if some of his old gloom has returned and I even ask him if his parents has contacted him, but they haven’t spoken to either brother since Patrik moved out several months ago. He confesses it’s his joints that are bothering him and that’s the end of our long walks in the parks and we don't go out as often.
Nano gives Patrik this job; a task to solve during the fall holiday when we have a full week off school. -He wants him to use his computer skills to help him find his biological parents. All he has is his fathers and his brothers names, and the town where he was born; Diyarbakir. A kurdish town in eastern Turkey. The three of us spend the evening searching through the limited records online, but Patrik comes up with the idea of sending emails to the local mosques. Nano speaks turkish and sorani, so he writes an email that we send out, and Patrik also have him write emails to two local newspapers and a library about any births or events around the time he was supposedly born. After two and a half weeks, Nano has the phone number to his older brother and his uncle, but he hasn't decided whether or not he wants to call them, nor has he told his adoptive parents.

It’s not often that Patrik and I are alone at the apartment, but on one such evening when we are hunched up on his bed watching a football game, he comments on a perfect kick:
"-Mom wants everything she does to be perfect,.. thats why she doesn’t like my hands."
He notices how I tense up and I turn to him, because he doesn't normally talk about these things.
He looks away, but he turns the tv off and leans back against my shoulder; -the physical contact not quite making up for not wanting to make eye contact.
“-I’m her son, but I’m not perfect like Rickard, who is Josefines son.”
I want to argue against this, because Rickard is far from perfect. He is irresponsible and reckless, but he is not saying that he is envious of Rick, only referring to his mother.
I knew Rickard had a different mother, but I didn’t know her name. I ask about Josefine and he explains slowly;
"-Dad was dating Josefine and she was already four or five months pregnant when he met mom.
He kept in touch with her because of the pregnancy but when Josefine died giving birth to Rickard, dad had to take care of him.“
I also didn’t know that she had died giving birth to Rickard, and I think about what that must mean to him.
“-Mom has always been extremely jealous. She was jealous of the baby and jealous because dad must have been upset that Josefine died.”
“-She said that having a child to take care of really hurt her career, but she wanted a baby that would be hers and dads, -they tried for a long time but she had two miscarriages before I was born. “
“-Thats what she says: that she wanted me, but when I was born all I did was ruin it for her.
That I was a big disappointment. She must have wanted me to be perfect, like her looks, her career and her marriage, but I’m not.”
"-She is wrong." I tell him.
He pulls his legs up on the bed, glances at me and continues, changing the subject:
“-She never dared to lay a hand on Rickard. He told me that she tried to make him hit me when we were kids, like part of some game. I don't remember it, but if he did she could blame him and punish us both. Dad didn't see it because he was always working. -He inherited these restaurants from grandpa: I never met my grandparents, -and he built everything from there, buying small businesses and expanding to other suburbs."
"-When I was six and Rickard must have been about 13 he tried to run away with me.
I remember being outdoors and dad came and took me from Rickard and first he put me in our car, then he dragged Rickard into the car: Once they started driving, Rickard opened the door to jump out, but dad held his arm and mom,.. -she kept on driving! He was dragged alongside the car and he broke his foot and hurt his shoulder."
"-Mom started taking jobs abroad and we were left alone with different nannies or just on our own.
-I think that dad didn't know what to do but send her away. -I like to believe that he did something.” He pauses.
“- It... It just wasn’t enough. -It wasn't until her job offers stopped coming that she started to hurt me and threaten us. It escalated and she could be really aggressive.”
“-Cigarettes if I wasn’t home on time,.. nails if I said something she didn’t like or if she saw my hands. -That time when she broke my fingers, it was because I had defended Rickard.
I know that he feels guilty because she hurt me and not him, and because he could move out before me, but its not true, -she did it to both of us, she only did it to me physically.”
“-She didn’t want me to bring friends home, or get to know kids in school so that they would know, and she would make me change schools.”
“-Know what? I ask.
“-Wait, you are saying,.. ” I interrupt him before he speaks and now I'm the one who can’t face him:
“-You mean she hurt you for spending time with me?... Patrik?”
He sits quiet for a long while and I repeat his name.
“ -I just want her to leave us alone. I only need three more years."
It’s becoming clearer to me how complicated his relationship with his parents is and how the bond between him and Rickard grew this strong. There is no hatred in Patriks voice but I understand him.
-He doesn’t miss his parents. His misses the parents they could have been. Maybe sometimes he wishes for more, to be appreciated, but he just wants to endure, he doesn't want any more trouble. He doesn't need revenge, he just wants to feel safe.

It’s november 30, and I ask Patrik to stay at home that evening, because it’s one of those nights that are traditionally messy, with manifestations from both racists and antiracists throughout the city. But his class is going out together, and then he will continue to the club. It’s one of the last club nights of the season and Rickard has asked us to come.  I go to sleep restlessly as I’m alone at the apartment and I leave the tv on for some background noise. Just after two, I wake up as Rickard bangs on my bedroom door and practically falls in over the doorstep. Breathless, stuttering, he says:
"-Carol, you need to come. Get up! Patrik... -they tried to stab Nano. He tried to stop them. He's at Karolinska." Not awake, I don't understand, and Rickard is clearly drunk: Karolinska, thats a hospital, thats not right. Nano has been... -No: Patrik has been stabbed. This is not happening. This is NOT happening. Hundreds of different scenarios run through my my head while I rush to get dressed. Jon is there and he drives us to the hospital, because Rickard is too drunk and way too upset. Rickard goes through the ER like a madman screaming at the staff. I try to calm him down, I grab his arm and he shuts down. 
He sinks down to the floor and I hear myself saying "-Lets just hear what they have to tell us?"
Jon explains to a nurse why we are there but he doesn't know anything about the patient.
-Patient. It’s Patrik, not a patient, I think and my head starts spinning.
The nurse takes us to another waiting room. He asks us to confirm Patriks personal details and social security number because he is not conscious. I mechanically list the names and dosages of his medicines, in case it is important. A second nurse comes in and says that Patrik is in surgery. She doesn't want to say what they are operating on. Jon recalls that Nano is in the ER too being looked after and he leaves to ask for him. I’m alone with Rickard who is sobbing and alternately pacing across the room and sitting down on the floor.
Nano limps in with Jon under his arm, he is bruised and has a cut over one of his eyebrows. We hug gently and he explains that he has a concussion and he asks for news. But we don't know anything and we ask him what happened. Worried he looks from Rickard to me and back.
"-We were at the club; I refused some guys entry. Skinheads. They were waiting for us outside when we finally closed up. We were almost out the alley when they attacked us. I was hit on the back of my head and dragged and I saw Patrik on the ground too. I don't remember anything else."

I sit down in front of Rickard on the floor and wait. I hear the door open and I see Rickards eyes go wild. I don't even have to turn around to understand and when Rickard stands up I hear myself yelling:
"-No no no! They can't be here, not in this room! Take them somewhere else!"
Confused the nurse stands there for a second but Jon and Nano has to hold Rickard back with all their force and slowly she backs away out of the room, with Nev and Thomas behind her.
Rickard is his emergency contact, but I should have realised that as soon as Patrik’s identity was confirmed, the hospital staff had to contact his parents, because he is under 18. Everything seem to happen in slow motion. Hours and hours pass, I lose track of time and I ask aloud if maybe his parents are getting information that we are not. This only agitates Rick and I stay quiet.
-For a second, I think that the police arrives for Rickard and I stand up defensively; but they are there to take Nanos statement. They also tell us they believe one of the attackers called the ambulance. Nano refuses to go home to rest but Jon leaves to get Linn who has just finished work and to get some clothes for both Nano and Patrik, just in case.
That’s when I see that the lower part of Nanos jeans are covered by a dark crust of dried blood. I look up at him and I remember that he did not hurt his legs that bad and I start crying and repeating
"-Oh god, oh god" when I understand that the blood must be Patriks. I can't breath, my chest tightens and I don't remember anything until I'm sitting on a chair and Rickard is holding a white plastic cup of water to my lips. I'm shaking and I ask if I missed the doctor. Rickards hand squeezes my shoulder and he repeats:
"-He is out of surgery. Carro... he has a skull fracture and they operated to ease the pressure of his brain. They have to keep him sedated.“ he pauses to make sure that I’m recording what he is telling me, and continues: “-He was stabbed in the left side and he lost a lot of blood but they only punctured his lung.“ I feel myself panicking again but Rickard hurries to say that it’s a good thing, -no other organs were injured.
“-They think they kicked him in the head and the chest. He has a few broken ribs, and his jaw is broken. They crushed his kneecaps and his right hand -so they still need to fix those things."
“-His right hand?” So typically me to notice the least important thing. I need something to focus on, but the thought of them operating on Patriks skull is too scary. I apologize. I want to hear him say that Patrik is going to be fine. “-He’s sedated?” I ask. “So he won’t wake up now?”
Jon who remains calm tries to encourage us to go outside and get some air but neither me or Rickard want to leave in case there are any more news. But since we have used the room for over six hours and others might need it we move camp to the hospital cafeteria. Rickard has sobered up fast and we force him to drink some water, but he can’t eat. Exhausted I try to eat some breakfast and then me and Linn finally fall asleep on a sofa leaning against each other. Mum and stepdad arrives but we have nothing new to tell them and they stay for about an hour.
A doctor though not his surgeon is very good to us and tells us about all the things they are monitoring and that the jaw is now also fixated. He repeats that there were no internal organs injured except the lung, and that they have to wait for the swelling to go down. He tries to make Nano go home and rest but he refuses and 15 minutes later Nano is admitted as a patient again and we are all waiting in his room. Luckily; because we learn that the press has already found out that Nev Hansen’s son has been assaulted and they are asking for Rickard and Nano at the service desk. I look to Jon “-They can’t write about this.” Any deal that Patrik had made with his parents is off. Without a doubt, they are going to blame everything on Rickard.
Finally in the afternoon another nurse comes over to tell us that Patrik will only need surgery on one of his knees but that they have to wait until he is more stable. 16 hours after Patrik was admitted Rickard is asked to the NIVA to see him and he says: “She needs to come too, she’s his girlfriend”. Girlfriend. Patrik doesn't have a girlfriend? Or I’d know. I don’t connect the dots that he infact means me: -I have a boyfriend. Patrik is my boyfriend.
They explain to us with low voices how the pressure in his skull is monitored, and how they are attempting to lower it. How it was difficult to intubate him because of his broken jaw and all the swelling. They can't give us any prognosis on whether or not he will have permanent brain damage and they will keep him sedated. Brain damage. I can feel the ground dissolving beneath me and I can't listen anymore. I am not ok with this. 
We only have eight minutes. I can only stare at his bruised, swollen face. This boy doesn't look anything like Patrik and he looks so small. I feel a false relief for a second: It’s not him, It’s not him, but it passes. He has a weird looking bandage around his head, what's left of his black hair is a dirty mess. His lower lip is split. His chest and both his hands are bandaged. There are tubes everywhere. I don't understand why his swollen eyes have to be taped closed.
-And there is blood. I am upset over this and ask why they haven't washed him. The nurse says that they have to focus on the primary care. Both Rick and I are too scared to ask any more questions. She leaves us in the hallway outside the common room and I start crying again and Rickard sits down apathetic on a chair in the corner. I take the elevator down alone to where the others are waiting, and motionless I try to repeat what the doctors have said. Jon will tell Nano and then head home, but I take the elevator back up to the fourth floor and take a seat next to Rickard.
We are alone. I sit there staring in front of me, and I catch myself mumbling Patriks name over and over and shaking my head. Rickard finally falls asleep of exhaustion and I leave him to find a nurse and ask a few questions. A nurse finds me in the hallway as she exits another room.
"-Who are you here to visit?" she asks.
"-Patrik. Room 23.
"-Is he the young boy?"
She asks who I am and I tell her I’m his girlfriend and she comes with me back to his room, but we both stop in the doorway. The room is lightly lit, the machines are glowing and it makes him look even more strange.
"-Are you staying the night?" She asks.
"-Yes, but I don't think I can sleep."
"-Nothing is likely to change the next few hours but the doctor will be here at six and probably when his parents come back."
I feel cold. I don’t know whether to be angry because his parents were here, or because they decided not to stay when he is in critical condition. Both. It’s easier to focus my anger on them than to allow myself to be scared.
"-When will he wake up?” I ask even though I know the answer.
"-As soon as the swelling goes down they will try to wake him up."
The nurse checks on us a few times at night, and in the morning before she ends her shift she has another nurse with her that brings sponges, towels and water. She tells me I can go and see him but to not get the patient or the bed too wet. Again with the patient. She speaks to me like a child but I don’t mind being taken care of right now.
First I'm relieved to be able to do something, but then I’m too scared of hurting him to touch him, and I mostly watch. The nurse explains that it’s not all blood; but antiseptic and bruising of the skin. I'm grateful and I feel comforted by how gentle she is with him but it's so scary to see him this way.
At six a team of three doctors come to see Patrik, but all they can say is that they can’t wake him yet. Jon comes to pick us up in time before his parents arrive, and we go home.
Nano is already home, perched on our sofa, he is in shock, shivering, and Tess is watching him. Jon takes Linn with him to the club to make sure it’s closed up properly. Rick wants to go with them but I hear Jon saying he shouldn't; there is still blood on the snow and on the pavement. The thought of Patriks blood on the pavement makes me sick to my stomach and I rush to the bathroom. Afterwards I take a long hot shower and a change of clothes. I go up to Patriks bedroom but he is not there: I can't step over the threshold and I start crying again. He should be there. Rickard and I take a taxi back to the hospital. The driver tries to ask if we are visiting someone but none of us want to say it. We are told that we can sit with him for two hours, but we need to be quiet. Patrik is the same, except he has a hospital gown or shirt on and his arms are tucked underneath a new sheet. Rickard is restless and when he doesn't walk around the room he sits on a chair with his right leg nervously jumping up and down in line with the beeping machines, and I know I’m his mirror image. I’m tearing up and I can't help it even though my eyes are sore and hurting already. I keep pressing my nails into my fingers and into my palm to be able to focus on the pain. It’s much harder to see Patrik now in the daylight and when the initial shock perhaps is over. I want to know that he will wake up. I want to ask if I can hold his hand but I remember them saying his right hand was broken, and both hands were taped and bandaged.
“-It doesn't look like him” Rickard finally speaks.
Patriks face is blue, red, purple and swollen, and there is some kind of bruise or wider scratch mark on his forehead. His hair seems to be shaved off in sections. I go with Rickard as he takes a smoke, and when we come back a nurse comes in and we repeat the questions but still without any clear answers. I don’t know how time passes, because every second is painfully slow and even though I'm desperate to see him, I’m glad they have limited our time.
The image of his unresponsive body is etched in my brain. I ask aloud if he can hear us and Rick assures me that Patrik knows that we would be there if anything happened to him. I try to find comfort in this but I feel like I don't have the right to. There are so many thoughts running through my head and I feel like I have wronged him. -We couldn't stop his mum from hurting him, and now he lies here, beaten because he wanted to help Nano.
That evening, the same nurse from the previous night asks me about Patriks old burns, scars and bruises. She asks if I know if they are self-afflicted. She assures me that if I tell her,
she is still bound to keep it confidential. I want to tell her everything but I can’t. I tell her that they aren’t, that I don’t think Patrik wants his parents to visit him, and that he doesn't live with them anymore. I tell her that they haven't spoken for months. But I understand that he is a minor, and that they are his parents. As I say this, another worrying seed starts to grow in me: -What if they try to stop us from seeing him?
My gut feeling says that I need to tell the nurse everything; surely the police would stop his mum if the hospital told them about his old injuries? But I can't risk it; it's not about me, it's about Patrik and Rickard and they have asked me not to, but I'm less and less and convinced that they have made the right decision.

On day three, Christine comes to the hospital but she says she doesn't want to see Patriks body. I want to cry again, because I don’t like the way she says “body”, as if Patrik, his person and soul, are gone. Mum brings newspapers, a book and some snacks. She sits down with me and shows me the news article and the statement that his parents have made but I'm too upset already to let it get to me. She says I don’t have to go to school this week. This week? I ask myself, and I don’t even know what day it is and school is the last thing on my mind. I have no sense of time, it’s all about when Patrik will wake up. In the evening the doctors discuss whether or not Patrik should be moved to the childrens hospital, but no decision is made.
On day five we don’t get to see Patrik during the day because the pressure in his skull has gone down somewhat and the doctors want to attempt to wake him up. This is the news we have been waiting for and I allow myself to replace the empty hollowness with a little bit of hope, but not too much until we know more. Later we are told that we can see him for a few minutes, but we are warned that they are watching him very closely and that they might have to sedate him again. I’ve never been happier to see someone turn his head just a little bit.
The next two days, we are allowed to see him for two hours, but he is sedated again. I have no recollection of how we make the rest of the day go by, how we make do, but both Christine and my class teacher calls me at the apartment to see how we are doing and when I will come back to school.
It's difficult for me to fall asleep in the evenings and in the middle of the night I sneak out of my bed, I briefly hesitate before I cross the threshold to his room, but I decide to try to sleep in his bed where I'm closer to him. When I wake up, Rick is sitting on the floor, asleep, leaning against the bedpost. I leave him be and fall back into a dreamless sleep.

On the morning of day eight, they wake Patrik up again, and he is extubated. He is breathing with shallow breaths on his own. He looks into my eyes and I know he recognises me, and I can't help but start crying again like there is no end. We can stay in the room when the doctors release each other one by one, examining him. He tries to move his arms and he tries to but can’t speak in words that we can understand, and the nurse increases his pain medication. The doctors are looking into his eyes and his ears and then they tape his right eye over again. It’s not responding to stimuli correctly. I don’t understand what that means but I don’t care, because Patrik really is waking up. We are asked to let him rest and we linger in the hospital cafeteria, hoping that his doctors soon will be able to tell us more, and we see his parents from a far taking the elevator up to his floor. Rickard squeezes my shoulder and we look at each other but there are no words. At home Jon and Nano listens carefully to any news that we have, because they still haven’t been allowed to visit him, and I feel selfish, because they have both known him for much longer than me.

That night things turn to the worse. We were told Patrik received a lower dose of a sedative to help him into a light sleep. Hours later, the nurse registered that his temperature was rising and he was developing a sort of fever. When the doctor on call arrives Patrik won't wake up and he sees that the oxygen level and blood pressure is also dropping, and Patrik is taken to an emergency room as he needs to be intubated again and to remove a possible blood clot in his previously collapsed lung. Because he still has a drainage in his chest, the doctors have no problem finding and dissolving the clot. When they call Rickard in the morning, they describe the procedure as successful, but Patrik isn’t waking up and he isn’t breathing on his own.
On december 10, Rickard has a big surprise for me. I’ve not forgotten it’s my birthday even though I’ve tried, but he tells me he has a present from Patrik. “-How?”, I ask. It’s not been wrapped, but Rickard picks a brown teddybear out of a plastic bag.
“-He showed it to me after he bought it. I know he wants you to have it.”
It’s a handmade collectors teddybear with movable joints, not something you buy in just any toy shop. It has black solid glass eyes, and a black bow tie. It’s cute, and even if I feel awkward because Patrik isn’t here, I will never grow too old for teddybears, -he remembered, and he thought of me. And what would be a better gift now than something to bring you comfort?
His own gift to me is something I can’t begin to explain; he lets me see Patrik alone for one of the two hours of visitation we have. I bring my chair close to his bed. Most of the swelling of his face has gone down, but he is still bruised, and the bruises are now dark purple to brown and yellow. I know all the tubes are necessary but they are intimidating and scary. I let my fingertips touch his cheek and then I place my hand around his wrist, since I can't hold his hand. When I can feel his pulse and that his skin is warm, I feel much calmer. 
Without hesitation I start telling him all the reasons to why he needs to wake up.

We are all expecting retaliation from his parents, but nothing is happening. We are waiting for Patrik to wake up and we are waiting for his parents to kick us out of the apartment, to close Rickards bank accounts, to call the police or to do something, and the wait puts a lot of pressure on all of us. I can always go to mom’s place, but Rickard, Nano and Jon has nowhere else to go and Jon starts to look for a new apartment for himself and Linn. It would mean that he would no longer live with them and I ask myself who will take care of Rickard if Jon leaves?
We have reached the 17th of december, and I hear it through Rickard, and he is furious, -red faced, skin boiling furious. All his anger is directed towards his parents:
”-They did WHAT?" I reply in doubt. Rickard repeats:
“-They moved him to the house. They hired two private nurses and moved him to the house.
The doctors said that since there is no telling if or when his condition will change he can just as well be at home.”
“-It’s not his home, she hurt him!” I don’t mean to raise my voice against Rickard, but he understands. Not in my wildest fantasy had I thought this would be an option.
“-If I try to see him at all they will call the police.” he fills me in.
Rickard closes his fist and slam it at the open door to his bedroom, and his fist goes through the first and second layer of wood, and the door bounces off the wall and smacks into his arm on its way back.
He slides down to the floor leaning on the doorpost, and I sit down to look at his hand.
He’s got some red scratches on his knuckles and splinters on his wrist, but he won’t let me take them out.
“-That has to hurt” I say.
“-They took my brother.” he says.
Just like at the hospital we sit opposite of each other on the floor and lean our heads on the other, but now we are both crying quietly, and our tears mix on our cheeks. I don’t know how we can even have any tears left.

It feels like Christine has to lift my legs one by one, one step at the time to make me go to school. I want the distraction, a focus, but it’s not working. But there are just three more days of school this semester before the christmas holiday. I’m not getting into the christmas spirit.
I have failed Patrik so bad. I couldn't protect him, and now he is back with his parents who hurt him. I’m so scared for him and I miss him. People aren't asking me how he is doing anymore, but the computer science administrator has news for me instead. His parents will have nothing to do with us, but the administrator has called them to ask if Patrik is coming back to school next semester and how he is doing. There is no change, he’s not returning to school. The news is still covering the story as well. Mom wants me to come home, but when I’m there I just walk around in this fog. When I’m at the apartment, I mostly sit in Patriks bed mumbling to myself, swaying back and forth. I hardly notice that christmas or new years eve pass by.

That morning I dream of birds. Magpies in shimmering black and white. The small plum tree outside my bedroom window is full of magpies and when I look up they lift from the tree all at once.
At 10:15 Rickard is at our door, mum answers and he asks for me. And I know. He doesn't try to explain. He just stands in the doorway and reaches out his hands for me. I run up the seven steps of stairs and fall into his arms. He is so much taller than me and I scream into his chest until I run out of breath.
They turned off the machines at 8:17 and at 8:35, january 6 1996, Patrik was declared dead.

His parents decide not to have him cremated, and they have their ceremony. We heard there was a lot of people at the funeral but neither of Patriks friends could stomach it. Instead Jon contacted his priest and on Rickards bidding we walked through the heavy snow in silence, across the field to the stone ship where we stood in an arch around the largest stone catching the last light of the day as the priest said his prayers and we said our goodbyes.

I’m sick with grief. A high fever runs through my body, I can’t stop coughing and my chest hurts badly. Rickard stays with me at moms house for just over two weeks. He starts out sleeping in my little brothers room next doors but ends up on a mattress on the floor next to my bed. When we do manage to sleep I have feverish nightmares, he has regular ones. I feel like I’m not a part of this world but I know somehow that my heart is still beating. I’m treated for pneumonia and unwillingly the fog in my head slowly clears. Mom starts asking too many questions and Rick needs another place to stay. He reminds me that we need to go back to the apartment and clear out our things: -And Patrik’s things, before they do. I don’t want to do it. I want to stay in my feverish existence where there is a small, small chance that none of this is real.
There is already a thin layer of dust covering the bookshelves, the tv and the desk in Patriks room. The bed is unmade but I was the last person to sleep there, not him. I pick two books from his nightstand that he hasn’t finished. Maybe I can finish them and tell him how they end, I think to myself. I rumble through his drawers but I can’t make myself pick up any of his clothes. I pack the books in my bag together with the clothes and items from my own room. Jon has promised that we can store anything of value at his new place. We pack the computers, some paintings from the living room, the cutlery, porcelain and some kitchen appliances. Rick packs Patriks room on his own in determined silence, his books and clothes filling three boxes. I try not to feel, but how can I not feel like all that is left of Patrik are these three boxes? The little knot in my stomach keeps growing and growing until I can’t stop it, I can’t breath and it feels like someone has put their hand around my heart, squeezing it. Rickard takes a break and he stands next to me looking out at the apartment, running his hand comforting up and down my back. Once all the boxes are carried out to the van, he locks the door, puts the key in an envelope and pushes it through the letterbox. That’s it, we are never going back in. We are never going back home.

The school semester has already started -it actually started two days after Patrik died, or as I sometimes feel like saying; was killed; -and I’ve missed the first few weeks. Everyone at school knows that Patrik has died and how the story evolved in the press. I’m not open to the overwhelming support and curious questions I receive from students or teachers that I don’t even know. I feel uncomfortable and threatened; hunted, questioned; -irrationally anxious and scared. I feel their eyes on me wherever I go. They have questions, but I don’t know how to answer them.
Even worse is how I ignore everyone who really cares about me, I don’t understand that they are trying to help and at the end of the day I sit there alone crying, wondering why nobody else cares that he is gone.
Rickard and I take long walks together to stay busy. Because staying busy keeps us from thinking dark thoughts. Almost. We take the bus to the castle ruins a couple of times and we walk up to the stone ship and just stand there staring in the freezing cold until we can’t take it anymore. Only on one occasion do we visit his actual grave together. He doesn’t break down like I do with cascades of tears, but he calls me one evening and I find him sitting on the stairwell outside the old apartment. His eyes are red from crying and he is shivering. I sit down next to him and he leans his head on mine and starts crying again. I put my arm around his waist and start crying as well. After what seems like hours we let go, and he leans forward and kisses me. It is my first kiss but Rickard looks so much like Patrik and I only wish it could have been him and not his brother.
Rick stays two nights at Jons, two nights here and there at acquaintances and friends, restless, unsettled. He picks up women at clubs to have somewhere to sleep, destructively. Nano has a second hand contract for a student room but Rick can't stay there. I’m oblivious, hiding in my own grief and my foggy mind, and way too naive to understand. Then Linn calls me and comes to pick me up at home. -Rickard showed up at their door, high on some unknown drug, unable to make himself understood, then passing out. Jon didn’t wait to call an ambulance but drove him to the ER himself where they had his stomach pumped. He is asleep when we come up to the ward but I am so angry, furious, at him. He is released the same day and Jon takes him home. But it’s only the first of events where Rick leaves to get drugs and we don’t hear from him for days at a time. We try everything, the police, the shelters, but in the end he always shows up at Jons place. I know it can't continue like this.
Nano has just about had enough of everything; the attack, losing Patrik, leaving the apartment nearly being homeless, getting all worked up over Rickard who doesn't care about anything,.. and we don’t blame him when he leaves for Diyarbakir to finally try to locate his biological parents. He plans to be away for approximately two months. Rickard is detained at a police station for substance abuse and sent to rehab for two weeks and then set free awaiting sentence. I’m still very angry with him but it feels like maybe this is just what he needed. We have been so scared that Rick will be reported to the police but now that they can’t stop him from being with Patrik anymore,.. -maybe he needs this to turn his life around. I hold on to this thought as Rickard disappears again for several days.

When Jon gets strange and confusing phone calls from Rickard saying that he is in Oslo and we need to come and get him asap, we do just that. In panic Jon, Linn, Tess and I get on the next train from Stockholm to Oslo. Mom doesnt want me to go but she can’t stop me. The train takes 6 and a half hours and we meet him on the central station but Rickard is high again. He is confused, he doesn't understand what we are saying and that we are trying to take him home. He refuses to say what kind of drugs he has taken and he talks about Patrik. He repeats over and over that they have taken his brother. He becomes more and more agitated and John tries to get a hold of his jacket, but he pulls himself loose then stumbles a few steps, turns around and starts half limping, half running down a short staircase to one of the platforms. When the train comes in I instinctively turn away. I hear the screams and I know that one of the voices are mine.

Whatever happened afterwards I have only been told because there is a big gap in my memory and I don’t come around until two days later when I’m boarding a plane back to Sweden with Tess dragging me to my seat. Jon has stayed behind, -to arrange everything, as Tess states. I just sit there staring in front of me, still hyperventilating.
Mom, step dad, Christine and Jimmy meets us at the airport and I’ve been told that I just kept asking for Patrik; that I had to tell him about Rickard.

Part 4

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  1. Amazingly powerful writing. Thank you so much for sharing your talents with all of us.

  2. I feel like you opened a gate to a secret and very honest world. Thank you so, so much for sharing. Also, I cried for Patrik... so I think I'm already emotionally invested.

  3. WOW, I wasn't ready for that! It made me cry.