Ben quickens his pace, sidestepping past his parents, aunt and uncle, along the kerb stones to draw alongside his cousin. With the cord wrapped several times round his fist he grips the duffle sports bag by the nylon fabric.
About him, the fading light signals the shift from Icelandic day into the long evening. Beyond the painted roofs of Reykjavik and the multitude of little church spires the mountains shaded by greys, greens and browns are caught at their tops by another band of rain-heavy clouds.
“If she ever was here, she isn’t now.” Finnur stacks the ropes and poles in the back of the van.
Aðli leans back on the vehicle, staring out over the landscape. He considers the girl’s chances. Another night out here and – he studies the weather – in his time working the highlands as a guide he’s known stronger men surccumb to the conditions.
“Tomorrow we’ll start out from Tönga, try on the eastern slopes. And there are caves up that way.”
True. Aðli considers. If you found a cave to get inside, deep down in – and if you had food and water enough you could add another day, or two to your survival.
Ben lathers the soap along his limbs, the sweet smelling, sulphurous water steaming from the shower that cascades over him. He puts his head back, pushing his face into the force of the shower as the bleeps sound and the water peters out. Returning to the bench where his clothes hang on the hook he grabs his swimming shorts and pulls them on.
Dripping water, he pushes his way out of the changing room, padding barefoot over the cold slabs of concrete that surround the pool. He dives quickly out of the cold, grey air and into the deliciously warm pool.