Harjunpää sat on the steps at the back of the house with the night around him and the rabbit in his arms. He gently scratched Viljami’s neck. The rabbit’s jaws munched, stopped every now and then, then started munching again, and each time the rabbit finished eating its dandelion leaf Harjunpää quietly apologised and fetched him a fresh one growing by the wall.
On the horizon he could see that morning was almost upon them; the darkness was fractionally bluer. It was almost four o’clock. He’d woken up around three and hadn’t been able to get back to sleep. Instead he sat there breathing in the fragrant night; he would have liked to think about the pet shop, but this time he found he couldn’t.
It was just a thought he’d had, a daydream that would have involved buying a slightly older house somewhere further away. There was a suitable house for sale in Veklahti and it even had a garage big enough; he’d already been to look at it. Then the whole family could start raising rabbits and guinea pigs and mice and everything in between, then could grow their own hay too, then they’d rent a little place in the centre of Kirkkonummi and open a shop that Elisa could run. There wasn’t a single pet shop in Kirkkonummi, but there were plenty of children and teenagers.
And somewhere deeper down another thought began to crystallise: if the business were successful he could do the same as Onerva. But he couldn’t mention it out loud: he knew all about unemployment, bankruptcy and the recession, and those who didn’t understand that all this was just a game knew to their cost far more than he did. It was as though the recession had claimed people’s very idea of happiness, too.
From To steal her love, by Matti Joensuu.
Translated from the Finnish by David Hackston.
First published in 1993; first published in English in 2008.