Linnea's Last Day

TRIGGER WARNING: This story discusses cutting, and physical and psychological abuse. Fifteen year old, Linnea Karlsdottir, hasn't stepped outside her home since witnessing the brutal murder of her grandfather several months ago. Believing his murder was her fault only adds to her grief, and causes crippling panic attacks that keep her locked away, in her house and in her mind. This is the story of her last day on Earth, and what happens when she goes to sleep one night, and wakes up to a second chance at peace. A second chance offered in a world called Enova.

Linnea is a character from my novel, "Tenderfoot" due out Spring of 2016. This novella tells the story of Linnea's life before Enova, and some extra stories about how she adjusts to life in a world across the universe.


4. Something Familiar

The textured surface of the square canvas is deliciously familiar to my fingers. Bristles on the paintbrush tickle as I run them across my wrist. Small tins of yellow, blue, and red paint are a soul quenching sight. The curve of a palate, with divots in which to mix colors, fits neatly into my hand. How did they know?

“Maska,” I gasp.

“You like them?” Her smile pronounces the dimples on her cheek.

“I─” Tears interrupt me, and make it impossible to finish the sentence. Droplets roll down my cheeks as I scoot closer to her and lean sideways into her squishy arm. She pops a hand up to my shoulder, but its removed before I shy away. Two weeks, and she already respects my limits.

I wipe my face with part of my cloak. Maska hands me a handkerchief. I use it and tuck it into my pocket. I’ll wash it for her later.

I pick up one of the tins of paint, and dab my finger in. Rolling it between my pointer and thumb, I consider the consistency. Creamy and smooth, it seems to have the perfect texture.

“Thank you for this,” I manage to say, keeping my eyes on the supplies.

“I’m just happy you're happy, dear! The living room probably has the best light. Pularis set up an easel, and cleared a space behind the couch for you to work.”

Work? Ha! More like play. Or more like therapy. No, more like…a desperate need.

“Well, I’ll leave you to organize,” she says.

“Maska?” I turn and find her in the doorway. “I don’t mean to sound greedy, but it would be would be good if...I need there white paint, and black as well?” My painted fingers twitch. I sound ungrateful!

“Oh! I'm pleased you're so eager. I’ll check with Jaejie, our neighbor. He’s the one who gave me these things.”

“He paints?” My heart flutters at the prospect of another artist, living in the apartment next door.

“No, his son.” she tucks her chin. “The boy passed away two years ago.” Sadness crosses the space between us like morning fog, and my eyes mist for someone I never met.

“Oh. Okay. Thank you again for getting these things for me.” I pull out her wadded handkerchief in my sleeve and dot my eyes.

“Of course, Linnea. We want you to feel at home here.” She gives me one more wide grin before leaving.

Finally alone with these wonderful things, I circle my hands over the canvas again and I have happy butterflies in my chest. I’m already dreaming of the picture I’ll paint. An abstract that ties together all the feelings I’m having about being so far away from home.

Home. A four-room turf house, buried in the side of a mountain to keep it warm in the harsh Icelandic winters. What will happen to Afí’s house? It will probably be sold, but Afí we had no relatives. And I was the only one named in Afí’s will. Who will sell the place, and who will profit the money?

Louise. I see her generous smile, and it makes me a little sad. What will she do about my absence? Will she look for me?

I guess the question is more, what did happen to Afí's house, and what did Louise do when she found me not at home. Even though I just woke up two weeks ago, I’ve been in Kiva, in Enova world, for months now. Is Louise still worrying? Who is living in Afí's home?

Dipping my fingers into the sticky paint, I start to play with the colors. See how many different hues I can make without white or black to add. Touching brush to canvas, I use a bright yellow-orange, to make an angled flower in one corner, in memory of Louise. A greenish blue, to create narrow heart in the opposite corner for Maska and Pularis. A reddish brown square in yet another corner, for my house in Iceland. In the final corner, blood red squiggles to represent myself. Then I swirl a dark purple over all of it, making it look like the elements of my life have been tossed into a whirlpool.

Whirlpool. Water. Maska told me I was found by thermal pools, in caves. Those must be interesting to see. I’ll ask tomorrow if one of them might take me there. I suspect, they’ll be thrilled I want to leave the apartment, and take me anywhere I want to go.

Where do I want to go? Really. If I could go anywhere in the world, or universe I guess, where would I want to go? Would I still go home if I could?

I finish my work, and warm my multi-colored hands by the fire. Glancing around my bedroom, I find myself smiling. Pularis carved a huge forest in the wall opposite my bed, when I told him how much I miss seeing trees. He said he made it so I can dance through it in my mind before I go to sleep. He did an amazing job. Afí  would be impressed. Hulking tree trunks, with swirling branches, start at the floor and spill onto the ceiling. He even added faces of sprites, camouflaging them into the bark. Grinning, happy little elves, send me off to sleep each night. He is really quite the artist.

I like Pularis, he’s easy to talk to. And Maska is overbearing at times, but I’m confident she’s trying to make me comfortable. Both of them respect my boundaries, and seem to sense what I need before I need it. Which is good, because I have difficulty speaking up for myself. These alien people, in this alien world, how did I get so fortunate to land with them?

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