Dreaming of Elisabeth: A Short Story

Dreaming of Elisabeth: A Short Story by Camilla Läckberg Read Free Book Online

Book: Dreaming of Elisabeth: A Short Story by Camilla Läckberg Read Free Book Online
Authors: Camilla Läckberg
Dreaming of Elisabeth
    The sound of the waves lapping against the boat were lulling her to sleep. The gentle rocking motion, the murmuring voices from the other boats, the heat that was making beads of sweat form in the small of her back – all of it was compelling her to sink into that borderland just before sleep took over. It was a place that she had begun to dread. But her limbs felt so heavy and hot that she didn’t have the strength to stop herself from sliding into the unconscious state, into memory. Inevitably, the images came flooding in. Red against white. The blood on the tiles. Memories that made her heart ache. Her brain screamed at her muscles to move, to do something, anything, to rouse her from that endless loop into which she was now being forced.
    ‘Malin, dinner is ready.’
    With a feeling of relief, she gave a start and then sat up. The boat careened and she instinctively grabbed hold of the lifeline that ran around the perimeter.
    ‘Food’s ready!’
    Lars climbed up out of the galley. For a second she considered telling him about the images, about what was constantly preventing her from getting enough sleep. But she resisted the impulse. It wouldn’t do any good. There had been a time when she’d thought they could talk to each other, but she no longer had any such illusions.
    She studied Lars as she took a bite of the Caesar salad he’d prepared for both of them.
    ‘Who was on the phone earlier?’ she asked.
    Lars waved his hand dismissively but refused to look her in the eye.
    ‘Well, someone must have been.’
    For a moment neither of them spoke.
    ‘It was only the office,’ he said at last.
    ‘Don’t they know you’re on holiday?’
    She knew she ought to stop now. It wouldn’t serve any purpose, and he’d just get annoyed. But she couldn’t help herself.
    ‘You said you would take some time off. No work allowed on this holiday.’
    Malin cursed her nagging tone of voice, but anger and frustration robbed her of all common sense, leaving in their wake a disappointed child.
    ‘They needed to consult me about a patient. It only took ten minutes. And besides, you were asleep.’
    Lars tossed down his fork and gazed out at the sea. After a moment he picked it up again, and they resumed eating, though the silence was so heavy with all that was not being said that they might as well have been screaming at each other.
    ‘I’m going for a walk,’ Lars finally announced after they’d finished eating.
    ‘Go ahead. I’ll do the dishes.’
    She stared after him as he took off along the dock.
    Three days later they were headed north towards a different harbour. They’d been sailing for nearly ten days, and by now the boat was overloaded with unfulfilled expectations. Maybe it had been naive to think that everything would work itself out if they simply bought a sailboat and took a month-long holiday. Thinking they could leave everything behind and let the wind blow away the memories.
    The boat had been her idea. She had practically grown up on a sailboat, and Lars had owned boats for years before they’d met. But because of what had happened to his first wife, Malin had hesitated for a long time before voicing her suggestion. To her surprise, Lars had been enthusiastic, calling it an ‘excellent idea’. So they had bought the boat. A real beauty in the five-million-kronor class with every comfort imaginable. Malin could have settled for something less pretentious, but she’d let Lars have his way. The money that she’d inherited from her paternal grandfather wasn’t doing anybody any good just sitting in the bank. If the funds could give them a new start, it would be money well spent.
    ‘Here, I’ve made coffee.’ Lars came up beside Malin as she stood in the bow. They were out on open water, with no other boats in sight and only a few islands nearby. The wind had picked up, and the bow was bucking against the waves.
    ‘Thanks.’ Malin took the cup but kept her

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