But something was wrong. Siri held her breath. It had to do with Milla. Or something else. But Milla definitely had something to do with it. Her presence here at Mailund. The slightly lumpish body, the long dark hair (long dark hairs on the kitchen counter, in the bathroom sink, between the sofa and the sofa cushions, on the base-boards and doorframes), her face, sometimes pretty, sometimes not, beseeching eyes.
More and more Siri found herself having to concentrate in order to keep herself in check—was that the expression? Keep oneself in check? Be one. One body, one voice, one mouth, one thread, and not fall apart, dissolve, collapse in a heap.
“Your main responsibility,” Siri said, “will be to look after Liv for five hours or so every day. But we’d be grateful if you’d keep an eye on Alma as well. Alma’s twelve. She’s”—Siri searched for the right word —“a bit of a loner.”
Milla laughed hesitantly, brushed the hair back from her pretty moon face and said that she thought it all sounded really great.
It was a mild, bright day in May and Siri had invited Milla to the house in Oslo. The idea was for them to get to know each other a little better before the summer. Alma was at school, Liv was at nursery school, and Jon had gone for a long walk with Leopold. Something about a chapter he was having trouble writing.
Milla had replied to the ad on the Internet for a summer job and Siri had been taken with her application. In her e-mail she came across as a happy, friendly, reliable girl. It would be fantastic to get to know all of you and be able to be part of your family this summer. If I get the job I’ll do my best to be a good “big sister” to your daughters so that you and your husband won’t have to worry when you’re at work.