— a weave of Scandinavian folklore

Vanja Hulth


Vanja rolled their eyes. “No, he’s doing you a favour. You promised me I’d get my own apartment.” They stared out the window, though not quite daring to drown their parents out with music again.


The Fiddler
Stockholm, Sweden
Rolf Hulth, father
Tina Hulth, mother
Johannes Eriksson, grandfather
Linnea Eriksson, grandmother (deceased)


What's your name
Vanja Hulth
How old are you
16. Well, almost, my birthday is in July
What do you look like
Do I have to? Reddish blonde hair, bluish-grey eyes. Tall, I guess, with long legs
Where were you at the start of the story
Moved in with my grandpa, since my parents decided that they prefered doing volunteer work in Rwanda to dealing with their offspring. They'd promised me my own apartment when I went to school, but since I've been, in their words 'acting up', they decided to punish me by sending me to grandpa, who I don't even know
What did you want, when the story started
I want to be a musician. The best musician in the world
Who are your parents
Tina and Rolf. Mom's a doctor, and dad's a carpenter
What was your education like
I just finished my basic years in Stockholm, and since my parents were going to Rwanda, they suggested I continue in Uddevalla. Going to study music there
Do you make friends easily
Not really. I'm a private person, and some people were picking on me, which made me even more careful with what I let people know about me
Do you have a best friend
No, I don't
Can you get people to do what you want them to? If so, how
Don't make me laugh
Do you have scars? Where did they come from
Hey, I don't cut
Can you navigate without getting lost? To what degree
Not exactly something I've needed to learn, no
Can you bake a cake
Simple cakes, at least
Do you know how to perform basic maintenance on a car
I don't even know how to drive
Is there something you do that most other people don’t
I play the violin decently, though I can get better
What is the most formative moment in your past
The day I realised that the reason I feel uncomfortable with all the 'girly' things my mom wants me to have and do is because I'm not a girl. Gender's not a binary, and I'm somewhere else on the spectrum
Do you have any phobias
What are some of your bad habits
I don't think I have any, really
Do you have a moral code? To what extent are your actions dictated by this code
I'm not even sure on where to begin with that question


First draft

Vanja rested back in the car-seat, with a Sibelius violin concert streaming into their ears. Their mother glanced back and mouthed something, but Vanja ignored her and focused on wrapping the jean jacket closer around them. As their mom’s gesturing became more agitated, they plucked one of the ear buds out.

“What?” Vanja tensed up, looking out through the window on the green fields and bared bedrock rolling by.

“We’re there in ten minutes. And please try to mind your manners.” Their mother tugged a hand through her bleached pixie cut. “Dad is doing you a favour.”

Vanja rolled their eyes. “No, he’s doing you a favour. You promised me I’d get my own apartment.” They stared out the window, though not quite daring to drown their parents out with music again.

“And you know very well why we can’t trust you with your own apartment.” Their father’s deep voice was deep with finality to it. “Johannes will keep you safe and out of trouble while we’re away.”

“I barely know grandpa.” Vanja packed down their phone, resentment oozing through their voice.

“Then it is certainly time you learn to know him.” Their mother’s voice was short. “We’re here, and behave.”

Vanja climbed out of the car and grabbed their backpack. Johannes met them, sporting a brown checkered tweed hat and dark pants with a jersey over it.

“So this is my lovely grandchild.” He hugged Vanja. A faint scent of tobacco, fabric softener and wood floated around him. They hugged him back hesitatingly. “Welcome. I’ve prepared your mother’s old room for you.” He glanced over at their parents. “I hope you’re hungry, stew should be ready.” He picked up a suitcase and led the three towards the large farmhouse. Behind it the forest and stretched out, interspersed with bared bedrock. Though Vanja would still have preferred their own apartment, at least their grandfather seemed kind and friendly.

“Your mother tells me you play the violin?” Johannes glanced back at Vanja, who nodded. “I did once too, but I decided that my place was in building them, not playing them. Now I only play to make sure each instrument I sell has the right sound.”

“Dad, that reminds me. We’ve bought a present for Vanja, but she’ll be needing your help with it.”

Vanja twitched at the female pronoun, though trying to keep it subtle. The only one who seemed to notice was their grandfather.