Ida does not wish she could speak, not really. The noise of the world crawls over her skin and under her bones, and she is not yet ready to join it. There is nothing she needs to add with her voice, not yet: nothing she cannot add with her art, colours blooming to life under her fingers, or her feet, marking careful trails through the green.
The world is very green, and very loud. Ida, she learned before she was ever asked to speak, is very silver and very quiet. It is a good balance, she thinks. A necessary one.
It is not until she goes to Silverhojd for the first time that the balance begins to shift, under Eva's hands and Josefine's song.
She first notices it in the big Thornblad house, the one that has so many ghosts her silence is unremarkable. Josefine is the only creature singing then, for all that the song is on her mother's lips as well.
Ida strokes her hair with one hand, and lets the other wander where it will across the vast expanse of her paper. She draws Josefine, draws the flowers bursting from her fingertips and the roots trailing from her feet. She's drawing faster than Josefine can change, for now. Not faster than Josefine can sing.
Her friend is so pretty, and so sad. For a moment Ida thinks about what would happen if she brought her back to Stockholm, if she tried to give her the life that Ida herself doesn't know how to fit into seamlessly. There would be two of them, then, two who didn't belong but who might belong to the forest together, even as they lived in the city and went to school.
But Josefine is crying soundlessly, her tears leaving silvery tracks down the dirt of her cheeks that Ida had never tried to wipe away - that she wonders if Eva had ever tried to wipe away - and dripping silently into the moss that is beginning to creep over her collarbones. It wouldn't be fair. Josefine needs to grow.
Ida puts down her pencil, rests her fingertips on Josefine's tree-bark hands, and lets her eyes drift shut, the song trapped in her throat vibrating against her skin. It's how Eva and Papa find them, minutes - hours? - later, with an unnameable grief tearing Eva's face in two and Papa, face like a confused summer storm, gently disentangling her from Josefine and drawing her back towards the doorway.
Ida understands, then, that they wish she hadn't come upstairs.
She looks at Eva and, for the first time, thinks she should speak - wants to know what the sound of her voice could do to the clouds gathering around them, rain not unlike Josefine's tears threatening to fall. She won't be gone, Ida wants to say, or perhaps, I didn't take her. Eva isn't ready to hear any of that: she hasn't accepted, yet, that there are no human children in her house anymore, and they both love her all the more for it.
She almost does say it, almost tries to calm the frantic, deafening, green-black fear that has Eva in a grip so tight that Eva has begun to think it an extension of herself. But she's forgotten all the words by the time she opens her mouth.all she remembers is Josefine's lullaby, and the pain is too deep across Eva's face already.
Instead she slips free of her father's grasp - sorry, Papa - and leaves him there to try to find the words to comfort her, though she knows he won't find any. Papa is not good with words about these sorts of things, no matter how hard he tries.
Later, when Eva too has come a little further into the forest, to Josefine, maybe then Ida can try her own words. Maybe then she'll be brave.
But for now Josefine sings all the songs the three of them will ever need, while Ida runs to the edge of the wood, Josefine's words still half at the edge of her senses, something she can taste on the air but has no hope of grasping. Vingklippta älvor på askans vita gång, even though she's real, and Josefine's real, and the dying green grass in the just-cresting autumn is yet to be burnt.
Wounded, though, yes - Josefine is dying above the ground, and Eva is torn, and Ida wishes to gather each of them in a hand and put them back together.
Ida lies down in a bed of clover at the edges of the trees and wonders if part of Josefine is already buried here. If the tree under her child's bones, the ones Ida doesn't quite recognise inside her own body, will be planted here. One day, she thinks, and it's a promise that she hopes her friend can hear.
One day I'll come back.
One day we'll sing together.
The ground shifts under her cheek: not quite footsteps, not quite a voice. Only life, and the earth making itself ready to bury a daughter and bring her back into a new sort of growth.
Ida smiles, and swallows her imagined words the way she had once imagined she might swallow Josefine's breath, and waits for Papa to take her home.
Waits, already, for the train that will take her back to Eva and Josefine.