Why you should care
If betrayal is a science, beware of its scientists.
Alice lived in the smallest room at Theta Chi, the co-op at Stanford where I lived in the mid-’80s during my sophomore year, and she barely spoke to anyone. We glanced at each other, and we started talking. She was, as I am, Swedish.
We started up a friendship that involved me taking a bunch of acid and her getting some sort of contact high. The two of us took long walks, wandering around downtown Palo Alto, me nearly being hit by a car and her pulling me away just in time: She saved me in a lot of ways.
She says I saved her too, from the loneliness of not fitting in. When she complained about the rabid feminists parading around Theta Chi, I just told her to “drop kick” them. She found that inspiring and told me I should become an actress; but then, as she pointed out, I was too busy being an actress in real life.
“It was like having sex the first time we met, without kids and being tired and worn out … He finally paid attention to my sexual needs … ”
Alice turned out to be quite the actress too. She lived in a single room and was in the habit of sitting there on the bed by herself with the door open. Murray, my cokehead boyfriend, had passed by her room a few times, and soon he started picking fights with me. We had our last fight in the Theta Chi dining room, in the middle of the night, throwing chairs at each other. A few days later, I saw him sitting in Alice’s room helping her type an essay on her typewriter. It did not take him long to replace me. At the time, though, I didn’t suspect anything because I was too busy making new friends at the lovely hippie house.
Alice showed her acting prowess, though, one day as we sat at a Stockholm café in the summer of 2011.
I was waxing lyrical about how wonderful it was finally to have had a weekend alone with my husband Danne without the kids — and to rekindle the spark we re-lit during our recent Helsinki cruise. We’d been arguing a lot over the past months. Alice had visited us for weeks on end and helped me with the kids, who were toddlers at the time.
“It was like having sex the first time we met, without kids and being tired and worn out,” I said, sipping a glass of chardonnay and looking out over the summer square of Old Town. “He finally paid attention to my sexual needs and didn’t come so quickly.”
“That’s great to hear,” she said.
“All the tension was gone after Estrid cleared the house,” I said. “When I returned home, I could breathe. The whole house was peaceful and its energy so very light.”
I was telling the story, but she wasn’t really listening. It was a story about how over the past three years, I’d been living under psychic attack by wayward spirits. The bad energy in our 18th-century house that made me so heavy-hearted and exhausted was dissipated after Estrid Merete Hörup cleansed the house from a distance. Estrid was my angel healer friend in Copenhagen whom I had never met but had a close dialogue with.
“Well, whatever it was, you’re feeling better. It worked.” Alice smiled. “I am so happy for you. You were in so much pain, and here you are.”
A week later, I opened the phone bill.
I found text message charges for my husband’s phone from within Finnish waters too. Alice’s number. During our “lovers” weekend away, every minute away from me, he had been texting Alice. Alice, who had been at our house for weeks. Alone with him, more times than my trusting soul wanted to remember. He had texted her dozens of times. Over a single weekend.
The world caved under my feet. I called her up. For what? Clarity? Answers? Excuses? Reasons?
No reply. I texted her: “You are a snake not only in the Chinese sense (she was born in the year of the snake), but first and foremost in the Biblical sense.”
My husband made me feel like it was all my fault. The arguments. The stresses from being parents of two young kids. Everything but his penis and what he had chosen to do with it. And, weirdly, I believed him.
Alice, however, never spoke another word to me.
I riddled her with texts that fall and winter, pointing out that it would have been okay had I not had a depressed 3-year-old crying herself to sleep on my stomach every night because she missed her dad. It would have been okay if it had only been me — but no reply.
Through the fall, I kept pelting her with text messages until she finally wrote me a text saying: “I beg you to stop sending me messages, or I will report you to the police.”
It put a fleeting stab of fear in my heart, which I quickly overcame and replied: “You do that. Not once have I threatened you. The police would have no reason to charge me with anything. I will go on texting you until I am done.”
My fury fizzled out though, and I left them to their own devices. A few months ago, however, she died of cancer.
My now-ex-husband built a shrine for her. He lights candles under it each day. If I died, I don’t think he would build a shrine for me.