In The Mountains – a short story commission for BBC Radio 4


First broadcast on 23 August 2019 on BBC Radio 4.

From the Radio 4 SHORT WORKS website: “Anya seeks to escape her unhappiness in London in a Spanish village. But she discovers that she cannot escape from herself.”

Every day she walked alone on the slopes beyond the guesthouse. Then she sat for hours on the crumbling red ochre, drawing the mountains encircling the valley. Her pencil traced ridges, followed fissures and ruptures and the sudden bursts of green thrusting thickly up along seams of hidden water. She peered down at the clusters of the houses nestled in hollows, searching their rootedness for a sign. She longed for a sign to show her the way, now that she had run away to Spain, to this endless sunlit stillness; a new calm, a new perfection.

At the guesthouse, Beatriz, the owner, told her about a market the next day in the village. Anya went alone, through olive groves and past a carpark of vehicles that seem abandoned, and to the opening of a shaded street: the entrance to the labyrinth. Its walls were formed of the bodies of houses joined, one heavy mass, chalk-white with lime. Narrow windows and small empty balconies pierced their shelter. Ancient chestnut doors hid lives within, and disused chambers.

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