The snow was really coming down hard and fast, great clumps falling as if angels were having a snowball fight. It might seem like a bit of a cliché to start with a description of the weather, but it bears some importance to the story.

The aforementioned weather was viewed through the standard two-paned window of the cabin I was currently holed up in, licking my wounds after a spectacular breakup. My ex, Sofie, was the love of my life, or so I thought until she slowly drifted away from me into the arms of another man. Was I too complacent in our relationship? Maybe, but that didn’t give her the right to take the coward’s way out without even trying to talk to me about it.

We met two years ago, almost to the day, on a ski trip to Sälen (Swedish budget version of Aspen or St Moritz). I immediately fell for her quick wit, blazing red hair and vibrant personality, at least that’s what I told her when she asked. Truth be told she had a marvellous body that I spent the next three days admiring from afar. On the fourth day I worked up enough courage, with the help of some beer in the after-ski lodge, to ask if she wanted to go out for a fika sometime (Swedish pastime including coffee and any kind of baked goods). She looked me deep in the eyes and said with a purring voice:

“I’ve seen you sneaking peeks at me, and I might be guilty of the same. How about we skip the tedious “Getting to know each other” step and just go to your hotel room and fuck like animals?”

She’d been sneaking peeks at me. Me? Ok, I’m pretty easy on the eyes. Dark brown hair, brown eyes, 6’1″ and reasonably fit for a 33-year-old IT-manager. One could call me ruggedly handsome but there were certainly other “Hunkier” guys around. Not one to pass up an opportunity like that though, I quickly and eloquently responded:

“Uhm…yeah ok!”

After that trip we were inseparable, for a while at least. I felt so great when I was with her and I really started to live my life again. My work had slowly taken over my life until it was all that I was. With Sofie, I finally woke up from my nightmare of being a corporate drone. It might sound a bit overly dramatic right? I had a job that was fulfilling and paid well, really well, but I was starting to notice a definitive shift in my social life.

I started my IT-career as a helpdesk agent for a large company in Gothenburg. I didn’t have any college degree or anything like that, but I was definitely a computer nerd and could run circles around the existing staff when it came to all things computer and application related. It probably helped that I was a punk rocker at heart and still had the arrogance of youth in me, but managers started noticing me. I didn’t “Sit down in the boat” as one manager said, I didn’t conform to their rigid routines and thinking.

When I got called into my manager’s office, I thought I was going to get fired, but somehow, I got promoted instead. My manager told me that someone normally gets fired for breaking that many routines and rules, but since I reported every infraction, why I did it and why I shouldn’t have to do it in the first place, the person getting fired was the stuffy old guy that made the routines to begin with. I was just being an arrogant smartass, but they saw it as a “Solution oriented free thinker” and promoted me…I could live with that.

The promotion inspired me to actually care about my job and I was quickly climbing up the corporate ladder, leaving such things as my punk rock band, my nerdy friends, and my comfortable lifestyle behind. It was replaced with relaxation tapes, cutthroat career games and eating granola bars on the treadmill while listening to corporate tech news. I was slowly dying inside.

My social life was pretty much hanging out at the cool clubs with the right people for my career. In Sweden we have a saying: “Lick upwards, kick downwards”, and that was pretty much what I was doing. Even the ski trip was more of the same, but my plans got derailed the first time I laid eyes on Sofie.

After I met Sofie, I sort of found myself again. It sounds corny as hell, but when I got home after the trip, the first thing I did was to dig up my old punk vinyl’s and play them for hours, screaming along with the lyrics with a shit eating grin on my face. The police eventually showed up and I was close to shouting “NAZIPUNKS FUCK OFF!” but I woke up from my revelry enough to give in to their polite demands to lower the volume.

From that day, I gradually started to live again, but I unknowingly also started to lose appeal for Sofie. A mutual friend, Anders, later told me that one of the things she was most attracted to about me, was my career and all the things that came with it. I ain’t sayin she’s a gold digger, but she ain’t dealing with no broke…you get the point.

So, it’s kind of ironic, she started me down a path of self-rediscovery, but that path also led away from her. I started losing interest in my job and she started losing interest in me.

It all culminated when I’d finally had enough and quit my job. I’d like to say that it was one of those “Falling Down” scenes, but it was more of a polite meeting where both parties were kind of glad of the outcome. I got a pretty large severance check since I volunteered to sign over all the custom applications, I’d developed for them, so money wouldn’t be a problem for a couple of years at least.

I came home with a bottle of champagne to celebrate my newfound freedom, but instead of support and joy from my beloved, I got scorn and ridicule. The illusion faded and I saw the real elitist, power hungry woman for the first time. I really didn’t like what I saw. When she said she was having an affair, just to mock me, it was just the icing on the cake. I threw her out that night. I don’t know where she went, and I didn’t care, I was just numb. I’d like to say that I threw all her stuff out the window while shouting profanities, but instead I just quietly and politely packed her things in cardboard boxes. We’re polite in Sweden, very polite.

I didn’t fold her clothes though, HAH!

That night I drowned my sorrows with a six pack of beer and Final Fantasy VII, all the while wondering where all my former friends were. I fell into a hole. I discovered all the services you could order to the door, so I hardly left my apartment. I binge watched all the TV-series I’d been too occupied to watch before, played all the games I’d missed, but my life was empty. I was on the right path before the breakup, I had a plan, but that plan got derailed when she tore my heart out. I’d like to blame her for my inability to get up and do something about my life, but truth be told, I was a bit afraid of the situation I’d put myself in.

One afternoon in early December, two months after Sofie left, our mutual friend Anders called me. After the normal platitudes he just asked me:

“How shitty is your life right now Peter?”

A bit shocked by the question, and that someone actually cared to ask it, I answered truthfully:

“Not shitty enough by far to end it, but pretty shitty. On a scale from one to elephant dung, I’d say a solid cow pile,” I responded with a heavy voice.

“Wow, you really know your shit, pun intended. I’ve been there man, takes a while to get out of the hole, unless someone helps to dig you out. I’m surprised it took you this long to realize what an utter cunt Sofie is.”

“HEY!” I shouted angrily, reflexes forgetting my situation.

“Really? You’re gonna defend her now?” he asked incredulously.

“…No… But you knew her before me, why didn’t you warn me?” I whined.

“Warn you about what? It’s your lives to live as you two choose. I’m your friend, but it’s not my responsibility to tell you how to live your life.”

Well, he had a point. Anders is many things, subtle ain’t one of them and that’s why I like him, I guess. Zero bullshit. I sighed and gathered myself:

“Sorry, I’m not used to speaking to a living person.”

I’d been cooped up in my apartment for a couple of months now and the only people I’d met were delivery persons.

“No shit Sherlock. How many times have you been outside since the breakup?”

“Does the balcony count?” I asked hesitantly.

“No, it fucking doesn’t, you moron!”

I heard him grumble something under his breath and sighing:

“Sorry, it just pains me to see you like this, it’s kinda pathetic. You can’t let her do this to you.”

“Well, it’s not just her… I kinda quit my job and now I don’t really know what to do. I had some plans, but they all included her…” I trailed off.

“Yeah, I know about the job, they’ve been trying to poach me to fill the vacancy. I’m not touching that job with a ten-foot pole though. I don’t know how or what you did there, but it seems like they’re starting to realize how truly fucked they are without you. If you went back, they’d welcome you with open arms filled with more money and bonuses,” he chuckled.

“Shit…if there’s one thing I can take away from this whole ordeal, it’s that I don’t want that life.”

As I said it out loud, my mind went clear for the first time in a long time. I really didn’t want to go back.

“Seems like you learned something then, something stupid, but who am I to criticize,” he chuckled.

“Says the man who can’t even program his TIVO,” I said jokingly.

“Ha-ha, got me there. I actually called to offer you something to get you out of that hole. You know I’m on the board of that outdoor sports association, right? Well, they have several cabins in the forests around Gothenburg. They’re mostly used by members practising orienteering, kayaking, terrain running and shit like that. Me, I usually just use them to get away from people and the city for a while. Well, the board made me caretaker for the cabins, so I have all the keys now. How would you like to come out into nature a bit? Get some fresh air and a fresh perspective on things?”

You must understand something now about swedes, we love the outdoors, regardless of weather, so my reaction maybe wasn’t what he expected:

“Really? A cabin in the woods? Are you high?” I asked dryly.

“I thought you’d love the idea. You’re always talking about your time in the boy scouts and the compulsory military training.”

“Yeah, but that was in another life,” I tried explaining.

“The life you say you are returning to?” he shot back.

“Well…got me there, I guess. But I’ve got nothing to wear,” I whined pathetically.

“Wow, that was the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard. I’ll give you a couple of seconds to find your balls and come up with another excuse,” he said while laughing his head off.

“…fuck you!” Yes, eloquent, that’s me.

“You kiss your mama with that mouth? Stop acting like a baby now and take the offer. I really think that it will help you get out of your funk. I promise,” he pleaded.

“Ok, I’ll go, just to shut you up,” I said with a smile on my lips. I was touched that he cared, and I was really starting to warm to the idea of sometime in the woods.

“I’ll keep this off the books since you’re not a member of the association, but if you go there the weekend after New Year’s, there won’t be a soul there, I promise.”

“Cool, thanks man. I really mean it, thank you Anders. Nice to know I’ve got at least one friend out there.” I started to tear up, but thought better of it, Anders would never let me hear the end of it.

“You’ve got more friends than you know, if you ever bothered to go outside and look.”

Maybe he had a point.

We spoke some more about life, the universe and everything, but hung up when my growling stomach threatened to drown out my voice. Hmm, appetite, that was something I hadn’t felt in a while. When there’s a black hole in your stomach, threatening to turn you inside out with hunger, there’s only one thing that can get the job done, a “Döner Kebab Pizza” (thin crust pizza with the usual tomato sauce and cheese, topped with thin, grilled shavings from marinated pork neck and a spicy sour cream-based sauce drizzled liberally over the whole pizza. It might sound disgusting to you, but you probably eat baloney, so what do you know about delicacies?)

My only problem was that the best kebab pizza was at a place that didn’t deliver to my door. Terrified by the prospect of going outside, but spurred on by my lust for this ambrosia, I cleaned myself up the best I could in a short amount of time. Shaving was out of the question since my hands were shaking so bad from hunger, but hipsters are the new thing in Sweden, so no one would notice. I grabbed a flannel shirt and some ugly sunglasses just to blend in better. God bless hipsters, making normal people look trendy when they can’t be bothered that day.

December went by fast now that I had something to look forward to. Christmas was the same awkward family affair it usually was. We didn’t get along that well due to my passive aggressive, bitter, slightly alcoholic mother. My father just looked the other way and occupied himself with his record collection. My younger sister was the smart one, she fled the country as soon as she was old enough and was now making a living as a travel and food blogger. So, after choking down some awful meatballs, pickled herring, and lutefisk, I quickly excused myself and fled to my own home.

New Year’s Eve was spent alone on the balcony, testing my new winter clothes, and watching the fireworks over the Gothenburg straits. One could accuse me of being a bit over enthusiastic about the trip to the cabin, and one would probably be correct, but I didn’t have much else to focus on. Green Day said it best: “When masturbation’s lost it’s fun, you’re fucking lonely”. So, I saw the trip as a new project, and I love new projects. I bought all the equipment I needed, made a menu for the weekend, checked the weather forecast, printed out some orienteering maps of the area, downloaded music and movies that would be appropriate for the setting. It was mostly Johnny Cash, slasher movies and Twin Peaks. No romcoms for me on this trip.

The departure day finally arrived, and I got into my trusty old Volvo V70. My former colleagues teased me about the car, saying I should get a car to match my income and social status. I replied that I didn’t need to show my penis size with my car, the one I got is large enough and well used. Wondering whether I was talking about my dick or my car, my colleagues never bugged me about it again. Ol’ Betty and I got along just fine. Every time I got into the car, it felt like putting on my favourite slippers.

So Ol’ Betty and I happily slid around on the small forest roads towards the cabin. There was quite a lot of snow on the ground this year and there was more to come according to the weather forecast, but I didn’t mind being snowed in. Due to my over enthusiasm, I had enough food and drink with me to last a couple of weeks and the place did have electricity and a phone, so I wasn’t worried.

When I finally arrived, Anders’ qualified guess proved to be correct. There wasn’t a single person, car or building for as far as I could see. I couldn’t see very far though since I was in a small clearing where the house stood, surrounded by a thick forest of pines and firs. There was a small frozen pond just next to the house as well, probably for bathing in the summer and maybe in the winter as well.

The house itself was a one storey house with a cellar, about 1200 square feet in size, with a large, roofed porch where you could brush off the snow and dirt before going inside. I found the key that Anders had hidden and went inside. It smelled of wood smoke and old cabin, two of my favourite smells. I noticed that the interior designers probably had taken a very long vacation, about 50 years long, but that comes with the territory when you have an association owned cabin.

The hallway was more of a corridor that stretched forward. On the right side there was a stairway down to the cellar and on the left side a lot of pegs to hang your clothes and an ancient looking drying cabinet. A couple of steps down the corridor there was an office on the right and the kitchen to the left. Straight ahead was the large common room, complete with a dinner table to the left near the other entrance to the kitchen, a large sofa set to the right, and in the middle, a large open space in front of a fireplace and some large panoramic windows facing the pond.

I stopped to take in the ambience a bit and noticed that it was noticeably warmer in here. I saw some glowing embers in the fireplace and then the bottle of whiskey and note on the mantel. It was from Anders and just said: “Whiskey doesn’t heal a broken heart, but it sure helps.” Too bad I hate whiskey.

I got settled in pretty quick, fetched all the gear from my car and made myself at home. The common room had two more doors that I didn’t notice at first, one on each side, that lead to the sleeping quarters. Four standard bunk beds in each room with some wardrobes and a dresser, nothing to write home about, but good enough for a weekend, I guess. I actually got a bit nostalgic thinking back on my time in the military service.

I explored the rest of the house and found a lot of candles that I spread out around the common room. Who says you have to be a girl to find candles cosy? The cellar was a bit smaller and had a water heater, washer, and dryer in one room, three toilets, a shower room, and a large sauna. We do love our saunas in Sweden, not as much as in Finland, but still. It was turned on, probably by Anders as a gift for me. Maybe later. There was also a door opening out towards the pond, which made sense due to the sauna.

I fixed myself some food and ate it in front of the fireplace where I’d started a small fire. I had to drag a huge high-backed armchair, you know one of those English leather ones, in front of the fireplace, but it was worth it. I also got into my new one-piece, a garment I wouldn’t be caught dead in normally, but anything goes in the forest I reasoned.

So, there I sat, staring out the windows as darkness fell, feeling the darkness falling over my thoughts as well.


The heavy snow had transformed into a terrible snowstorm while I’d been sitting there nursing my whiskey. I know I said that I hate whiskey, but I decided to follow Anders’s advice when the dark thoughts threatened to overwhelm me.

I was sitting there in my one-piece, trying not to choke on the whisky when the front door flew up in an explosion of snow and arctic winds. I quickly scrambled out of the armchair, grabbing a fire poker as I saw three snowmen piling in through the door. Two of them quickly tried to drag the door shut, pulling against the malevolent wind and packed snow. The third just laid there on the floor gasping, covered in snow, with a ludicrously large backpack threatening to crush him. I just stood there, watching their struggles. When they finally managed to close the door and slump to the floor with their backs to it, it dawned on me that they were all female. They noticed me at the same time, and all started laughing their heads off. I failed to see the humour of the situation, until I realized what they must be seeing.