Posted: January 26, 2014 in Fantasy, Magic
Tags: , , , , ,
Sælevatnet - boat house in BW Image courtesy of http://scotnor.com/

Sælevatnet – boat house in BW
Image courtesy of http://scotnor.com/

Kenneth ran as fast as he could. He had left the street, ran through the wood. He could still hear the other boys – his classmates. He couldn’t tell what they were up to and/or saying about him. Like all other inhabitants of the town, they knew enough English to talk to him – these boys just didn’t want to. Ever since his father brought him ‘home’ to the town where he was born, these boys had mocked him. Down at lake Sælevatnet he stopped, ducking behind the old boat house, trying to catch his breath. He couldn’t hear their voices any longer, perhaps he was safe for at least some minutes.

Two weeks before, dark clouds had dimmed his wonderful life. He and his father lived in Hammersmith, in a nice flat; their neighbour, Mrs. Fitch cooked for them and looked after Kenneth if his father had to do overtime at the office. One Friday evening, Tom Solberg told his son, that he had been asked to take part as geological expert in a high priority expedition. He would be gone for seven to eight months.

Kenneth had gulped. “Will Mrs. Fitch take care of me?”

His father shook his head. “Her health isn’t the best. I already told the manager that we are leaving. As I cannot take you with me, I contacted your aunt Solveig and her husband Per. They will take you in for the time being. You certainly don’t remember them, you were just fourteen months old when we left Norway.”

Within three days, Tom and Kenneth Solberg had packed what little they had, said goodbye to Mrs. Fitch and her husband. All had happened way too fast for Kenneth’s taste. He felt homesick before they had even boarded the plane. Longingly, he glanced through the window. He pressed his nose against the window until they were above the clouds. He turned to his father who had fallen asleep. For the first time, he detected fine worry lines in Tom’s face. Perhaps his father hadn’t accepted the offer to be mean to him. Life had always meant Tom and Kenneth Solberg, nobody else. Now, he was travelling to live with a family he didn’t know. He tried to remember their names. Solveig and Per, Ivar was 10 years old – two years his senior. And then there were the twins, seven years of age – Kjell and Trond.

Solveig picked them up at the airport. She greeted them warmly, hugged and kissed them. On the drive home (!) aunt Solveig and Tom talked in English for Kenneth’s benefit. Solveig talked about their home town, church, school, the lake, and about how happy they all were that Tom and Kenneth finally returned home. Kenneth, who couldn’t remember his mother at all, liked aunt Solveig. His father had told him that his mother Mari had been only one year younger than her sister Solveig, and that they had been best friends as well.

They had four days together, then his father had to leave. The next day, Solveig, Kenneth and his cousins walked to school. It was a nice little building. Inside, Ivar went to the left, the twins to the right to go to their classrooms. Solveig and Kenneth kept straight on to the headmaster’s office. The introductions made, Solveig left for work, And the headmaster asked Kenneth to follow him to the staff room. Kenneth shyly greeted Miss Paulsen, his new teacher. “You really don’t speak any Norwegian, Kenneth? You are a descendant of the Haugland family, right? You’ll see – you are going to learn Norwegian in no time!”

With these words, Kenneth’s nightmare began. They entered the classroom and Miss Paulsen introduced him, asking her class to speak English as often as possible. There were only ten children in the room, staring at him most of them with clear curiosity, three boys were sneering. The only vacant seat was in their direct vicinity. During break, these boys followed him, laughing mockingly. He was glad, when Ivar came over to chat for a minute. While Ivar was with him, the boys pretended to mind their own business. As soon as Ivar was out of earshot – they started again. The days that followed were all the same, they mocked him, shoved him, took his backpack, hid his pens. On Tuesdays they even followed him home. On Tuesdays, Ivar and the twins could go home earlier, therefore Kenneth could not go home in peace.

This Tuesday, Kenneth took off directly after the bell rang. This head-start gave him the opportunity to change his typical route home. He ran through the woods, to the old abandoned boathouse. As he could breathe normally again, he listened. No voices. Kenneth took off his backpack and sat down by one of the rotten boathouse walls. It was really nice sitting there, listening to birds and insects, seeing the houses and some boats in the distance. He felt at peace for the first time in weeks, felt nearly ‘home’. In this moment he decided that this spot would become his hiding place, a place to think and rest. He sighed happily and closed his eyes. Little did he know that he was being watched.

Half an hour later he got up, seized his backpack and went home to his family. He was looking a lot happier than before, Per thought. He had worried a little, thinking that maybe someone had told the boy about his mother. Mari had been a sleepwalker ever since she was a teen. Irregularly, she got up during the night and wandered about the house. This continued after she married Tom Solberg, and it continued after Kenneth was born. Mostly, she stayed within the house, one or two times she strayed through the garden. One night in May, when Kenneth was just fourteen months old, Mari sleepwalked, left the house, walked through the garden into the wood, down to the boathouse. Her appearance ‘surprised’ two robbers who had just successfully hidden their haul (priceless church treasures) inside the boathouse. They didn’t realise that Mari was just sleepwalking, one of them hit her with a wooden slat. This woke her and the other robber stifled her scream. The robbers pulled her to the under-brush and took off.

Next morning, Tom woke up and found Mari gone. He searched the house, the garden – no sign of Mari. He ran next door to ask if Solveig had seen her. The searched together, half an hour later they called the police. They found Mari in the afternoon. She was lying in the under-brush where the robbers had left her to her fate. Death must have come slowly – and painfully, the coroner said. The whole town was in shock. “I cannot stay here!” Tom had said to Solveig and Per after the funeral. He had packed only a few items, most of them for Kenneth and had left Norway with him the same day.

Kenneth was quite unaware of the past. One day, Solveig showed him some photographs. The sisters were spitting images, Solveig’s eyes were brown, Mari’s eyes had been greenish. This was the only way to keep them apart in the photographs. Kenneth already understood the comments below the photos. Thanks to his family and the kids at school, he was getting a grip on the  Norwegian language. His afternoons at the boathouse also helped to keep him in a good mood. Especially as nobody else ever stopped by.

The next day, he returned to the boathouse. A trip he was always looking forward to, just having the possibility to relax, forget the awful boys in his class. He settled in his usual spot at the boathouse wall. Suddenly, a weird-smelling cloth covered his mouth and nose. Kenneth immediately lost consciousness. He was bound and gagged. As the two men had watched the boathouse for several days, they had time to plan how to get rid of this unwanted witness. Both of them had only a limited time-frame in the afternoon to retrieve what they were after. They were the robbers who were responsible for Mari’s death. After seven years, Gunnar Madsen and Henrik Lund who had been in jail for some other robberies had finally got the opportunity to retrieve their stolen treasure. Gunnar hurried inside to carry the first box to the rowing boat they had hidden behind the boathouse, Henrik moved the boat to a more convenient place.

Suddenly, a rumble and a stifled cry sounded from the boathouse. A wooden slat had fallen from above and hit Gunnar square on the head. Henrik ran inside and saw his accomplice lying on the floor. The wound strangely resembled Mari’s wound from seven years ago. He slapped Gunnar who was still unconscious after the blow. Henrik cursed and picked up the box, carried it hastily outside to the waiting rowing boat. Slowly, Kenneth regained consciousness. His vision was still blurred. He had registered Henrik’s shadowy figure hurry by, handling something heavy a few metres away. He turned his head and saw another shadowy figure, clad in a long robe, a nightie perhaps, long hair flowing in the breeze.

Henrik turned around to fetch the next box and froze. The beautiful young woman who had chased him in his dreams was approaching fast. An unbelievable beauty, like Galadriel in Lord of the Rings – a great trilogy he couldn’t bear watching due to her resemblance to Mari – gliding closer. “NO!” he yelled and fell backward into the – here only knee-deep – lake. He struggled out of the water and still saw the Galadriel-like Mari-apparition. “NO!” He fainted and fell back into the lake. Kenneth could see clearer, now. “Mommy?!” The apparition smiled, blew him a kiss – and vanished on the spot.

Henrik’s shouts had alerted some walkers on the other bank of the Sælevatnet. One of them could see the bound and before gagged boy by the help of his binoculars. He immediately called the police. Only ten minutes later, the boathouse and its vicinity swarmed with police investigators and Kenneth’s family. A doctor examined Kenneth and declared that he was all right. Gunnar had a severe concussion. Henrik had completely lost it. He couldn’t stop babbling about Galadriel in vengeance mode. The investigators located the robber team’s treasure and could immediately link it to a robbery from the time of Mari’s death. Gunnar confessed to the burglaries and to hurting Mari. Henrik was sent to a mental institution where he died three years later.

The whole town was shocked. And they all expressed their sympathies. Kenneth learned about his mother’s fate. It didn’t hurt him as much as his family and the whole town had expected. Thanks to seeing her this one time, he had found closure. He was convinced that she had saved him. This was the one secret he kept all to himself. The other secret was given up easily: he finally admitted that he felt at home.

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This blog post and/or photo by Iain inspired me to write Sælevatnet:


Please visit this blog with its fascinating photos. These photos are inspiring and may cause the urge to visit Norway.  🙂

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DISCLAIMER:  This is a story of fiction. Characters are not based on existing people. Similarities to living or historic characters or events are purely coincidental. The boathouse is neither haunted nor a location of crime.

  1. Brilliant story and lovely photo 🙂

  2. Hello Karen,
    I’ve liked the picture you like in my blog ?

  3. Mjollnir says:

    Great stuff Karen and thanks for the link back 😀

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