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  • Eye Blister
  • Gunnhild Øyehaug (bio)
    Translated by Kari Dickson (bio)

She has to get the asylum seeker back to the church. She found him wandering around in the woods behind the church, he’d had enough, he tried to tell her in a language she couldn’t understand, but she knew that was what he was trying to say, all the same; he was pale, with big bags under his eyes, and his eyes were bloodshot. His hair, which was dark, lay pressed against his head in two big waves, as though he’d been walking back and forth in the church cellar with his hands clasped over his head, fingers locked. She couldn’t believe her luck, that she, who never won anything, had had the good fortune to bump into the asylum seeker in the woods, when he was the very reason she had gone there and aimlessly pulled bark off some random trees in the pretense that she was collecting larch branches for an advent wreath, which was what she’d told Torstein, her husband, she was going to do, whereas in fact she just hoped to catch a glimpse of the asylum seeker in the church.

He was, despite the strange hairdo, extremely attractive, masculine and desperate as he was right now. In fact, she had to admit he was generally incredibly attractive. Could that be the reason she’d become so fascinated with his fate—after she’d read about him in the local paper, an interview with the asylum seeker, who’d had his application turned down and therefore sought sanctuary in the church, and the photograph of a man sitting on one of the hard church pews, his tortured face framed by dark, curly hair, which just wouldn’t leave her mind asleep or awake? Could that be why she constantly found herself circling the church in the hope that she would see him in the cellar, where he slept on a mattress? No, surely not.

She has for a long time, before reading about the asylum seeker in the newspaper, been obsessed with Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games; Peeta Mellark replaced Edward Cullen in The Twilight Saga, who had in turn taken over from Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. She feels [End Page 115] that she’s finished with Aragorn and Edward Cullen, they no longer make her slip into a daydream, but Peeta Mellark, on the other hand, he’s still kind of new, even though he’s like the other men, in the sense that they’re all good and intelligent, and most important, incredibly kind—they are goodness incarnate—and she believes in them; even though they’re only fictional characters, they seem real; in fact, it’s almost impossible to believe that Peeta Mellark doesn’t exist. His fair hair, which is sweaty and damp at the neck as he sits up on the sand in the fictitious world of The Hunger Games, where they’re being held captive in order to entertain the evil president and thrill-seeking population by killing each other until there’s only one left: she wants to watch it again and again, it’s as though his hair is everything she’s longed for, all her life. She wants Peeta Mellark to exist.

She freezes the shot where he looks up at his great love, Katniss Everdeen, who is the heroine and runs around in the forest with a bow and arrow and saves everyone; again and again she watches the moments when his feelings are so apparent on his face, especially the moments when he first looks away and then directly at Katniss, all his longing and all his hopes there just under the skin of his strong jaw, and in his eyes that seem to say, can’t you see me, here I am and I love you and will always love you. She looks for interviews with the actor on YouTube; fans have cut together Peeta Mellark moments like this, moments that make your stomach lurch, when Peeta turns, comes into a room. And sometimes when she’s at work in the bookshop, she goes to...


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pp. 115-124
Launched on MUSE
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