My two best friends are swinging side by side, slightly out of unison. It will be my turn soon, they assure me and I shrug like I don’t care. I’d locked my arms around the playground poles, looping my body around in circles, my hands smelling of dust and metal. Earlier, we had skipped to the park singing Listen to Your Heart, agreeing that Marie was really pretty – even with short hair – debating whether she and Per were “together” together or just “band” together. T had her theories. She said that she read in a magazine that they used to be an item. She just knew Per was secretly in love with Marie, based on his lyrics – had we even listened to the words to It Must Have Been Love? We argue how to pronounce Per’s name in Swedish. T is insistent. She is confident and sophisticated in her pronunciation and I stop questioning her. By the time they jump off, there is no time for me to swing.
I watch this memory like a time-traveller. I want to gently tell my eleven-year-old self that she would always be the third wheel and to not let it bother her so much and also that she should let her friends go to the shop without her, so she could swing for hours uninterrupted. I want to tell her she was right, his name wasn’t pronounced “Pierre” and that even though it felt unfair that T’s parents were letting her skip primary school graduation to go to the Roxette concert – she would finally get her chance twenty years later. Marie would have been battling cancer for ten years by that time, refusing to cancel a single show. Per would do all of the heavy lifting on stage – watching her with barely-disguised concern. Marie would sit on a stool with a microphone, and let him take the lead.
I want to add that she will look at T’s empty seat beside her – that they both will try to be friends as adults, but that night, she will finally accept their differences. Finally I want to tell her that Marie would die on her husband’s 39th birthday and that she will be late for work because she played Listen to Your Heart and it spun in her head on repeat, taking the world as she knew it down, down with her.