If only we’d never gone there, thought Alan. They were scrambling up the mountainside in the late afternoon heat. Alice was so tanned that she looked as if she had lived on the Mediterranean for months, while he, being fair, had turned a blotchy, peeling.
He looked up at the mountainside, the path twisting upwards towards the cairn cross, the white heat bleaching the rock. Why on earth couldn’t they talk about it? Why couldn’t he even accuse her?
He had thought it was going to be all right. But it was as if the heat had drained their love.
At home they had been so blissfully happy that he now realized it couldn’t have lasted. She comes to his school from the Midlands because her family had split up. An only child, living with her father, trying to look after him, lonely, depressed, anxious, she had come to Alan to be healed. At least, that’s what he liked to think. Had he healed her? No. Tom had, even though Alan loved her with all the passion. Now his hatred for both of them was as strong as his love.
在家时，他们曾是多么幸福。现在他意识到那不会再继续下去了。由于家庭破裂，她从内陆来到他的学校。作为独生女，她和她的父亲住在一起，尽力去照顾他。她孤独无依、无精打采、愁眉苦脸，经常到阿兰那里去排除忧伤。至少他喜欢这样认为。他为她解忧了吗？没有。是汤姆，即使阿兰曾付出所有的激情爱着她。如今他对他们俩的爱就像他的恨一样强烈。 “Come on!”Alice had turned back to him, waving impatiently.
“Coming,”Alan looked at his watch. Five, The crickets would start singing soon. He walked on, the sweat pouring into his eyes. Knowing she had opened the bottle of mineral water. Would she let him catch up with her? An even GREater misery seized him. It reminded him of the night he made himself drunk on the rough local wine his parents bought in the village. His heart had ached then, too, and his sense of loss had increased as he relived each minute of a day when Tom and Alice had seemed to draw closer and closer together.
He walked faster. Here, a few miles away on the bare mountainside, there was arid space, and the olive groves, clustered in the stone-cluttered valleys below.
他走得越来越快。他为山顶上那些中世纪的城堡而欢呼雀跃。放眼望去，离那座山几里远的地方有一块空地，在山谷的乱石丛中生长着一小片橄榄林。 “Come on!”
Alan strode doggedly on, looking down at his red, peeling legs, thinking of Tom’s strong, straight, brown ones.
Suddenly he had turned the corner by the stone shelter. He could see her waiting for him. If Tom were here, they would be together, mocking him, looking at each other, leaving him alone. As he strode self-consciously on Alan focused his mind on her.
“Where’re we going to camp?”She was sitting on an outcrop, her slim body supple and salt-caked. Her legs were swinging and he longed to run his hands over them. Instead he imagined Tom doing that and hot, angry tears filled his eyes.
“It’s a deserted monastery, down in the valley. Amongst the fir trees. Over there—look, you can see it.”
“Oh yes.”She turned her head. When he did look he was shocked to see how beautiful she was, like a goddess.
“Won’t that be spooky?”she asked in the slightly broken voice that he had always found so sexy.
God, how he loved her. Why couldn’t he just take her in his arms now? That could solve everything. But there seemed to be an impenetrable barrier around her—as if she was sealed away by Tom.
“The valley’s dangerous,”said Alan, hoping to frighten her, to provoke reaction.“If the clouds come down there’s no way out. Sometimes for days.”
“Is there anywhere else to camp,”asked Alice.
“Not really.”Alan was certain she’d rather be with Tom. Yesterday he had seen them sitting on a wall together outside the villa. Their ankles had been entwined. He had wanted to grab Tom’s legs and pull him off. He would hurt his brother—and Alice would be sorry . It would be her fault.
“Let’s go,”said Alan quickly.
“How far is it?”she asked.“I’m whacked.”
“Half an hour.”
“Can we eat them?”Her voice was a little plaintive. Alan noticed with satisfaction that she was becoming dependent on him again. But he knew that once they were off the mountain she would be with Tom. For a crazy moment he imagined Alice with himself living in the mountain valley together. Always. Trapped perhaps by some magical force that wouldn’t let them leave.
The monastery was square-roofed, austere，with barrack windows. There were fish tanks at the back and a terrace on which the monks would have walked.
Their feet on the stones made the only sound. Santa Caterina was utterly still. A swift rose soundlessly over the slate roof and the heat shimmered on the roughcast walls. They lay down, their rucksack still on their backs, passing the water bottle, almost dozing.
Suddenly she sat up and looked him with surprising tenderness. Alan’s black mood eased slightly.
Have they all gone then?”asked Alice.
“Yes. I don’t know when. A long time ago.”
She was lying back, her eyes closed. He could talk to her now. They could both talk the problem and solve it. They would reach each other. But he couldn’t make the move.
“It would be terrible if it is pulled down,”Alice said idly, her eyes still closed.
“It won’t be.”
“How do you know that?”
“They patch it up from time to time.”
“Why don’t they live here?”
“Don’t know. Maybe it’s too remote.”
The desire to punish her had gone. But he daren’t touch her. He daren’t break the enchantment.
“The heat in the day. The cool evenings. It would be good to live like that.”
“Could we ever get permission?”
“I don’t know.”
“Just to see what it was like. I mean—”She half sat up.“Can we get inside?”She ran a finger gently down his peeling cheek.
Alan was taken aback but then he became aware that the crickets had started. How long had they been singing? He wondered.“Let go and see.”
They tramped round but as Alan already knew, there was no way in. In the end they came back and he lit a fire at the side of a small stone building. Other campers had obviously used the space and there were black marks on the walls.
He cooked supper, using half a precious bottle of water to make it. The intimacy was still there but the talking was at an end. Alan could hardly contain his rising excitement. They had night together. Anything could happen.