Three days in a row, I climbed the nearest hill of the hut twice a day to admire the view: the sunrise splashing gold over snowcapped mountains and the sunset bathing them in blood.
On the third day, watching the light receding, I felt an ache in my breast.
If I could, I would stay right here forever.
I must have spoken the words aloud, for a woman said, ‘I could help you with that.’
She must have come up behind me while my attention was on the sunset, for I had not seen her on my way up, and I had not heard her. She wore a dress, which reminded me of a photograph I once saw, from 1910 of a woman and her husband on a mountainside. In her yellow curls were several large clumps of lichen, and I wondered whether she had taken a tumble father down because of her long skirt.
‘Really?’ I said, smiling at her strange attire.
‘If you want my help, that is,’ she smiled back and her flashing violet eyes made my heart flutter.
‘I would much appreciate your help.’ I thought she meant that she could give me a tour guide job, and I must admit I hoped she lived nearby as well.
‘Just stand still for a moment,’ she said and stroked my forehead with a finger. I hardly had time to be taken aback by her cold touch, before I felt my feet stiffen. I looked down and saw the transformation crawling past my midriff. Half a second later, I was completely paralysed.
She kneeled down in front of me and tutted, shaking her head.
‘What did you look down for?’ she asked, ‘now you won’t be able to watch the sunsets.’ She turned towards the mountaintops and sighed.
‘They really are beautiful from up here.’