THE MOUNTAIN WAS a sheer volcanic core that rose improbably from the lush plain. It had been named Mount Trepidation by the early explorers, those anglophile pessimists, blighting the map with monuments to their leech bites and sunstroke. Some people claimed to see the face of a skull in the mountain’s western cliffs, a feature that had become conflated, over the years, with its reputation for falls and suicides. This was despite the fact that thousands of people climbed the mountain every year without incident. This was Corinne’s go-to line, one that she had repeated to the members of the support group. Their hike up the mountain – the culminating event of the weekend retreat – would be perfectly safe, whatever they might have heard.
Corinne could not contain her distaste for the tourists, many of them wearing skull-face souvenir T-shirts, who swarmed the mountain during weekends and holidays. There was something emotionally stunted about people who sought out the cheap thrills of the macabre. Her bedroom window was deliberately uncurtained, so that the sun on the mountain’s peak was the first thing she and Ted saw each morning.
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