Anti Saar. “The Way Things Are With Us”

Reading sample

When I say that I know a terrific amount about witches and vampires and ghosts and zombies, well, that’s not exactly true. It’s just that telling scary stories is quite a new tradition in our family. So why didn’t we tell them before? I think it’s just that earlier ago we didn’t realise that something horrible can also be jolly and that it’s hugely exciting to feel your heart racing and your ears buzzing and your legs beginning to tingle!

I’d really like to know how old you are and what things you’ve learnt to be afraid of already. But because I don’t know what they are I shall tell you my most bloodcurdling ghost story. And I’ll tell you what my mum came face-to-face with once. They are sorts of stories that you can make really different yet always leave you somehow feeling the same.

One evening we lit a fire in the living room and some candles too. With the help of some pot plants we made some really scary flickering shadows. And mum began to speak in a mysterious, half-whispering voice:

“In a black, black forest
there was a black, black house.
And in that black, black house
there was a black, black room.
And in that black, black room
there was a black, black cupboard.
And in that black, black cupboard
there was a black, black box.
And in that black, black box
there was a skeleton!”

She said the word “skeleton” so suddenly and unexpectedly that I actually screamed! Dad did too. But not Joonas. He just smiled his cheeky smile and then began pestering mum:
“Tell us that skeleton story again.”

Translated by Susan Wilson