Excerpt from "Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name"
Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name
By Vendela Vida
EccoCopyright © 2007 Vendela Vida
All right reserved.
It was three in the afternoon when my plane landed at the Helsinki airport, but outside my window, dusk was already settling in like a bruise. I retrieved my suitcase, its handle cold, and stumbled to the tourist information desk, where a woman with good teeth and bad English helped me find a hotel near the train station. My plan was to take the first train north, to Lapland, after a night of sleep. She directed me toward the hotel's free shuttle bus waiting outside. Its doors opened just as I was preparing to knock.
The blond bus driver's name tag said Ari, but he told me, the only passenger on the bus, that his name was Kari. The name tag belonged to his twin brother, for whom he was filling in (would I please not tell anybody about that, he asked). When it was clear no one else would be boarding, Ari/Kari turned and spoke to the general area where I was sitting. "We go now," he said.
We trailed a snowplow on the road into Helsinki. On the radio, a man's voice sang in English about the pleasures of driving home for Christmas. I asked Kari if he would mind turning it down, and he turned the radio off.
The hotel had three stars on the plaque beneath its name-one star more than I was accustomed to-and I experienced the vacuous pride travelers feel when a choice that's been made for them is a good one. Inside, Kari took my luggage upstairs to reception, at which point, he moved behind the counter to check me in. No-smoking, one night, I told him.
Shortly after I settled into my room, the phone stuttered a staccato cry, far from an American brrring. It was Kari telling me he'd be getting off work in an hour. "You like to join me in the lobby for a drink?" he asked.
Excerpted from Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida Copyright © 2007 by Vendela Vida. Excerpted by permission.
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