The music is on, turned up loud, the feel of the engine beneath my right foot. We move from motorway to B-road, dipping down with the tarmac and rising up again. The headlights are on even though it’s two, rain spattering grey and the wipers on full. The chords swell, something in my chest hurts.

Will it rain all week, I ask.

But no, the next day is steep and blue and we are climbing Cat Bells. Feel the scree beneath your feet, the tufts of grass, your breath quick and ragged in your throat.

There’s a school party from Middlesborough on an orienteering course; one of them is lagging behind, stopping on each bend and the others are shouting. Come on Kerry Anne / you can do it Kerry Anne / there’s a million pounds here and a hot chocolate

we leave them behind and then it’s just you and me and the winter sun low and white in the sky, the mountain streams tumbling.


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