Author: Johan Bargum

Canberra, can you hear me?

Issue 1/1987 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Johan Bargum. Photo: Irmeli Jung

Johan Bargum. Photo: Irmeli Jung

A short story from Husdjur (‘Pets’, 1986)

Lena called again Sunday morning. I had just gotten up and was annoyed that as usual Hannele hadn’t gone home but was still lying in my bed snoring like a pig. The connection was good, but there was a curious little echo, as if I could hear not only Lena’s voice but also my own in the receiver.

The first thing she said was, ‘How is Hamlet doing?’

She’d started speaking in that affected way even before they’d moved, as if to show us that she’d seen completely through us.

‘Fine,’ I said. ‘How are you?’

‘What is he doing?’

‘Nothing special.’


Then she was quiet. She didn’t say anything for a long while.

‘Lena? Hello? Are you there?’

No answer. Suddenly I couldn’t stand it any longer. More…

The Session

Issue 2/1982 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Pappas flicka (‘Daddy’s girl’, 1982), an extract of which appears below, is published in Finland by Söderstrom & C:o and in Sweden by Norstedt. The Finnish translation is published by Tammi. Introduction by Gustaf Widén

At first I say nothing, as usual.

Dr Berg also sits in silence. I can hear him moving in his chair and try to work out what he’s doing. Is he getting out pen and paper? Or perhaps he has a tiny soundless tape-recorder he is switching on.

Or is he just settling down, deep down into his armchair, one leg crossed over the other, like Dad used to sit? I used to climb up on to his foot. The he would hold my hands and bounce his foot up and down, and you had to say “whoopsie” and finally with a powerful kick, he would fling me in the air so that I landed in his arms.

I have worked it out that the little cushion under my head is to stop us lunatics from turning our heads round to look at Herr Doktor.

It would certainly be nice to sit bouncing up and down on Dr Berg’s foot. His ankle would rub me between my legs …

I soon start feeling ashamed and blush.

“Mm,” says Dr Berg, as if reading my thoughts. Or can he see my face from where he is sitting? I try rolling my eyes up to catch a glimpse of him, but all I can see is the ceiling with all its thick beams.

“I seem to have been here before,” I say. More…