Fjallabak is full of ghosts. I've heard their stories: the woman that drowned in the lake, the boy that's scared of the dark... someone floating around in the lava field, trying to find their way
back to the hut through an eternal blizzard. But it's not those lost souls that linger in my mind. Marlene — by her own definition a ghost to me now — once explained that, for her, returning to
this place year after year — to these places in my case, connected but strangely far apart — we're surrounded by the shadows of our transient friends.
Echoes of chatter through mouthfuls of toothpaste, or a shared coffee to delay the tasks ahead. It's not just the people, but the place itself — remember when we could only see the roof? When we were here alone and the light came on by itself? The things we fixed are broken again, and the paint is peeling back off.
It's normal for people to stay in one place, while things change slowly around them, but time moves strangely here — around in circles; it jolts along, as summer feels like a week and a life at once. I want to collect the good times and weave them together, keep my favourite people in the hut. Not just a party, but the endless days of taking things for granted, taking each other for granted, while we go about our regular business and complain together at lunch. I want to be endlessly busy, but never feel tired, and to have my time filled from morning 'til night without ever having the chance to wonder what I'm doing, or why I'm doing it — I'm working for this place — I'm working with them.
I feel like it will never change, until it does. One day I realise my friends are leaving, with no guarantee of coming back. Some of them will never return but, as I walk around the place —
cleaning the sink I've cleaned a thousand times before, fixing that same broken sign — I see them in the corners of my eyes, popping in to grab the mop, or leaning against the wall. My brain is
scrambled and my body's tired, but they won't help any more.
The rock that broke my toe stayed there, sitting innocently under the water, but the guys that pulled me out are gone. We've replaced the trash container that destroyed my leg — twenty times by now — but it looks the same, and I remember how we laughed when it happened. I still can't lift the gas bottle on my own, no matter how often I try — the person I turn to for help is different these days, but I always feel just as feeble.
I've got a different screw in my pocket. I still don't know why it's there.