5 the rail, as if the slightest breeze could blow her down.
Inside the hospital, equilibrium returns. The tiled floor feels cold, even through her vibram soles. The hospital is modern and all on one level. The corridors are eggshell white, full of promise, Gabriella thinks. She would have preferred vomit green. Even the reassuring medicinal smell seems diluted. The scent reminds her of the homemade cleaning solution she prepared at
10 Liam’s insistence. She used the mixture for a week, until she noticed that it took twice as long to remove grime as the concentrate she bought at the janitorial supply store. Liam hadn’t noticed that she’d stopped using it.
The nurse at the station nods to Gabriella. “It will just be a few minutes,” she says. “Won’t you have a seat?” She can’t be more than twenty-two, thinks Gabriella, three years younger than
15 she is. She sinks into the vinyl couch. Only three weeks since the accident, and it seems as if she’s been waiting forever.
On that morning three weeks ago, a light frost had silvered the clubmoss along the trail.
Ahead, the plum-coloured peaks of the Maligne Range cut razor-sharp silhouettes against the sky. Gabriella noticed how Liam’s thick black hair was cut as fashionably as ever, unusual for a
20 climber, although his face appeared lined and travel-worn.
Gabriella hadn’t proposed the hike until the night before. She’d called it “one last outing before the snow comes.” She didn’t want to let on that it might mean anything much to her. At the lake, she planned to bring up the subject of the lease. The landlord said he’d have to know by
October 31 if they would sign for a year. Housing was so tight in Jasper; he had at least three