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A Cold Swedish Winter’s Day by Nigel Roth

One fine morning, in April of 1908, Karolina Olsson awoke on the small isle of Oknö, which sits quietly between the Swedish mainland and Gotland, Sweden's largest Island, in the Baltic Sea, part of the vast Atlantic Ocean.

It was an ordinary day for most Swedes, who may have been planning a trip to the newly-inaugurated Royal Dramatic Theater (as opposed to the non-dramatic theater down the road which was far less entertaining), or were pondering the membership fees for the new cross-country skiing association, which encouraged the development of Swedish skiers, who've competed very successfully ever since.

For Olsson though, this day was a little different to the previous twelve-thousand.

Because Olsson had spent all of those - from the 22nd of February, 1876 until this moment - fast asleep.

Or had she.

Back in 1876, fourteen-year-old Olsson had arrived home to her deeply-religious and eidolistic mother and father, and her four brothers, and told them a story of woe. She had, she announced, fallen on the ice and bumped her head, and showed the many bruises she sported as proof of the slip.

How exactly the family reacted to this tale, whether with complete belief and agreeable nods, or with slight incredulity at the extent of the physical damage from one fall, there is no record.

But we do know they went on chewing their black herring and decided that the child needed no medical attention; probably because the nearest doctor was some distance away, and also because they had few old riksdalers or new krona to spare.

It was when Olsson’s awful toothache then started a few days later, that her mother realized the severity of the young girls injuries and, in keeping with the best practices in these sorts of cases, in nineteenth-century remote Scandinavia, in a household that lived cheek-by-jowl with wood-witches, wind-warlocks, sea-phantoms, and ancient antagonistic apparitions, did what all good mothers would have done; she sent her to bed.

For thirty-two years.