“You think so? It’s not something I’ve noticed, I must say.”
“Or at least, only as a flattering veneer, compensation for the aggression we feel toward other people. But in this book, Myrdal actually succeeds in being both phenomenological and behaviorist without letting us see how he does it.”
He gave her a benign look, with a cautious kind of smile. “You think that is its mystique?”
Ester felt embarrassed. She loved him so much that it hurt all over.
“How long will you be away?” she said.
“About two weeks.”
“That’s a long time.”
He remained silent, hesitated, was on the verge of saying something but stopped himself.
“Just at the moment I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. I simply don’t know. I might go up to Leksand for a bit, too.”
“Leksand. To your house?”
“I go there when I want to be on my own and think.”
He turned away and started fiddling with something in a cupboard, restless movements with no purpose. She thought he had just sent her a veiled enquiry, a covert question about whether it would be safe for him to make the break from his woman, the one he was possibly going to see in Malmö. Would Ester be there for him, if he did? Was he asking, with his “don’t know whether I’m coming or going,” whether he could trust her or whether she was toying with him? Was he in fact the one who felt vulnerable and not the other way round? It had not occurred to her until now.