"Stop there and let me correct it, I want to live a life from a new perspective"
”Mikey” Gerard says one pitch-black night when the moon is hanging above the clouds, obscured just like the stars, ”Mikey, let’s move to Norway” and he’s really too drunk off his face to mean it in a serious sense, but he’s also too drunk to not mean it in the most sincere way possible. Gerard wants to get out of here, away from the harsh, glaring world that’s frowned upon him since he was a child. Or maybe just hide somwhere out of sight, and Mikey is the only one he wants to take with him.
”Why Norway?” Mikey asks, not just why in the way that so many people would, because Mikey knows everything about wanting to run.
”Because people don’t think twice about tall girls there” Gerard explains more to his cluttered basement residence than to Mikey, and maybe even more to himself. Saying it out loud makes it real, and for once Gerard thinks that maybe his life will stop being an enigma of daydreams never hatching and slowly rotting into new shapes and wishes. For once, he thinks to himself, maybe his life will get a chance to start. He’ll take that chance, grab it by the tail and pull even though it shrieks and scratches his arms, he’ll be stronger.
Gerard was always a scrawny child, constantly pale and delicately refined around the edges, and so was Mikey. So their mother fed them. Boys are supposed to be chubby, only girls get to be petite.
She just wanted to make sure her children would be accepted, since she never was, and in all honesty, every ounce of that intention was good-hearted.
But it worked a little too well on Gerard and sadly not at all on Mikey. So there she was, one day, with one kid overweight and the other a twig despite her efforts.
And there she was one night, with one kid unconscious on the porch in her best dress and high-heeled shoes, drunk and beaten until he bled, and the other passed out on the batroom floor with his fingers down his throat.
She couldn’t find the energy to wipe the make-up off her older son’s face and her younger one was already inside, so she just went back to bed. The neighbor found Gerard the next morning and called the cops.
They end up in Sweden, but when they go in for landing at Arlanda airport they’re not disappointed. All the trees they see from above are evergreens covered in glistening white snow and really, wasn’t Norway a part of Sweden a few hundred years ago?
All the voices blur together in a fountain of foreign languages that they don’t understand, no one looks at them twice because no one’s looking for them and no one knows who they are. Gerard feels safer in the hustle of thousands of people moving around him like sand on the wave-kissed shoreline than in the darkness of his mother’s basement.
They don’t need to ask anyone to figure out what it’s like to live in Sweden. All they need is one look around them and they know for sure that this is where you mind your own bussiness.
Stockholm is really just a blob of houses shimmied in between tall pine forests and the suburbs intertwine with nature in a way Gerard thought was reserved for neo-urban fantasy novels. Outside their seventh floor window in Rågsved there’s a big rock surrounded by trees and beyond that is the subway. It’s silvery, black and blue body contrasts to the dark and looming pines in a way that most native people only shrug at or fail to notice at all, but Gerard draws picture upon picture of their kitchen view.
There’s a girl next door, she’s seventeen and her name is Asheen. She lives with her mother and father and seven siblings and she comes over sometimes. Gerard doesn’t mind her visits at all, quite the opposite. She’ll make tea and braid Gerard’s hair and sing to him in arabic as well as swedish, and she never minds wether he’s wearing a dress or a t-shirt and jeans.
She’s told him how her family came to live in Sweden, how they left their home in Kurdistan in the dead of night with the scarce possessions they could carry in their arms, and she says Gerard is just like her.
”You see the important things in life” she says ”The things that makes it worth living when others say it’s over”
She has to leave a few months later, and she smiles at him before stepping into the elevator with her suitcase. Gerard’s wearing a plain, shirt-dress and a bathrobe and there’s stubble on his chin. He never sees Asheen again, and he wonders if her family found a way to stay hidden.
”Have you noticed how normal everything is here?” Mikey says to Gerard one morning over their breakfast. ”No one’s sad and no one’s strange and no one’s crazy. It makes you think you’re missing something”
”That’s what people look like when they’re scared, Mikey. They’re all hiding things, they’re all sad and strange and crazy, but they know that if someone else starts to notice, they’ll be exiled” Gerard says into his coffee. ”That’s why they don’t talk, because it takes one to know one, and everybody’s one around here”
”A human being Mikes” Gerard stands from his chair and turns to put his empty cup in the sink ”Trapped in the illusion of a perfect society”
”Isn’t that just a third world-thing?”
”And who told you that?” Gerard says around the filter of a cigarette.