Ben climbs into his bed in the small guestroom with the eye-level windows in the basement floor of his aunt and uncle’s Reykjavik house. He lies against the pillows staring back across the room at the atmosphic black and white photograph of the vocano at Leirhnijú with steam rising across black craggy ridges. The picture has hung in this room for as long as he can remember, and he can remember how as a child he would arrive here for the annual summer holiday and gaze upon this picture. Today is no different.
Along side is the second single bed – the bed his sister usually sleeps in. Helen. A vision of her face flashes through his mind. She’s looking back at him across a valley with a waterfall, before turning and bounding off up the path at the pace of gazelle. Helen. So good in the mountains – how can have come to be lost this easily? She can’t be dead. She mustn’t be dead. The inevitability of the situation argues with his mind, scientific fact and probability throwing out human optimism.
Ben pulls a copy of Iceland Review from the bedside cabinet. Opening it at a random article he attempts to focus his eyes to the words. A story about Icelandic Bar Talk – and he’s there in Blikki’s with Helen and Gerður sharing tales from their university lives and catching up with what’s new over glasses of Egils beer.
But he’s not there. he’s lieing in his bed in his uncle’s house thinking of his sister out there, alone in the highlands, either fighting for her survival … or, already dead.