In extreme cold the heart slows. The body protects itself. It shuts down.
Riley had been Lee’s school friend. They ran into each other again through work and became close enough for Lee to invite Riley on the annual Easter trip.
Riley arrived at the lodge with a small daypack and shopping bags of packaged food.
‘Travelling light?’ Lee ushered his friend into the communal loungeroom. ‘A few introductions. Guys, this is Riley. Lisa you know. Germaine and Lachlan. Germaine’s just had her first retrospective. My brother Tony. Veronique, Tony’s wife. Their kids, Giles and Fran, over there. Sue and Gordon and their kids are on their way. They’re doing dinner tonight. Cajun. Blackened perch.’
It was the sort of meal Riley only ever ate at restaurants. Over the clinking of glasses of fine wine the couples talked of parenting, mortgages and the adventures of their courtships.
Riley had little to say. He wasn’t being rude. He’d just lived a life without such deep attachments.
By the third day immersed in this world of families, the loneliness of his life, which had never been a problem, weighed heavily on him.
A thick fog rolled across the mountain. While the couples talked in the kitchen Riley slipped out into it, unseen by the others.