The Boy in the Suitcase - By Lene Kaaberbol

H OLDING THE GLASS door open with her hip, she dragged the suitcase into the stairwell leading down to the underground parking lot. Sweat trickled down her chest and back beneath her T-shirt; it was only slightly cooler here than outside in the shimmering heat of the airless streets. The strong smell of decaying fast food from a jettisoned burger bag did nothing to improve the flavor of the place.

There was no elevator. Step by step she manhandled the heavy suitcase down to the level where she was parked, then realized that she didn’t really want it in her car until she knew what was in it. She found a relatively private spot behind some dumpsters, sheltered from security cameras and the curious gazes of passersby. The case wasn’t locked, just held closed by two clasps and a heavy-duty strap. Her hands were shaking, and one of them was numb and bloodless from carrying the ungainly weight for such a distance. But she managed to unbuckle the strap and unsnap the locks.

In the suitcase was a boy: naked, fair-haired, rather thin, about three years old. The shock rocked her back on her heels so that she fell against the rough plastic surface of the dumpster. His knees rested against his chest, as if someone had folded him up like a shirt. Otherwise he would not have fit, she supposed. His eyes were closed, and his skin shone palely in the bluish glare of the fluorescent ceiling lights. Not until she saw his lips part slightly did she realize he was alive.








THE HOUSE SAT on the brink of a cliff, with an unhindered view of the bay. Jan knew perfectly well what the locals called it: the Fortress. But that was not why he looked at the white walls with a vague sense of dissatisfaction. The locals could think what they liked; they weren’t the ones who mattered.

The house was of course designed by a well-known architect, and modern, in a functional-classical way, a modern take on the Swedish “funkis” trend. Neo-funkis. That’s what Anne called it, and she had shown him pictures and other houses until he understood, or understood some of it, at least. Straight lines, no decoration. The view was meant to speak for itself, through the huge windows that drew the light and the surrounding beauty into the room. That was how the architect had put it, and Jan could see his point, everything new and pure and right. Jan had bought the grounds and had the old summer cottage torn down; he had battled the municipal committee until they realized that they most certainly did want him as a taxpayer here and gave the necessary permissions; he had even conquered the representative of the local Nature Society with a donation that nearly made her choke on her herbal tea. But why should he not establish a wildlife preserve? He had no interest in other people’s building here, or tramping all over the place in annoying picnic herds. So there it was, his house, protected by white walls, airy and bright, and with clean uncluttered neo-funkis lines. Just the way he had wanted it.

And yet, it was not what he wanted. This was not how it was supposed to be. He still thought of the other place with a strange, unfocused longing. A big old pile, an unappealing mix of decaying 1912 nouveau-riche and appallingly ugly sixties additions, and snobbily expensive because it was on Strandvejen, the coast-hugging residences of the Copenhagen financial elite. But that was not why he had wanted it—zip codes meant nothing to him. Its attraction was its nearness to Anne’s childhood home, just on the other side of the tall unkempt whitethorn hedge. He couldn’t help but imagine it all: The large family gathered for barbecues under the apple trees, he and Anne’s father in a cloud of Virginia tobacco, holding chunky tumblers of a very good Scotch. Anne’s siblings by the long white patio table, with their children. Anne’s mother in the swing seat, a beautiful Indian shawl around her shoulders. His and Anne’s children, four or five, he had imagined, with the youngest asleep in Anne’s lap. Most of all, Anne happy, relaxed, and smiling. Gathered for the Midsummer festival, perhaps, with a bonfire of their own, and yet enough of them there so that the singing sounded right. Or just some ordinary Thursday, because they felt like it, and there had been fresh shrimp on the