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The Hike by Susi Holliday

The Hike by Susi Holliday PDF

Author: Susi Holliday

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer


Publish Date: October 1, 2022

ISBN-10: 1542035341

Pages: 269

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

He is in much worse shape than she is. Half of his face is obscured by dried blood and muck. One of his eyes is puffed up and squeezed shut. His shorts and t-shirt are ripped. Muddied. Bloody. She knows she doesn’t look too great herself. Sweat patches under the arms of her sweatshirt. Grazes on her knees. She tries to stay focused. Keep the pain at bay.

They’re sitting, far apart, on the steps outside the wooden chalet-style building that allocates most of its space to an outdoor equipment shop. Only the small blue sign stuck on the wall to the right of the glassed entrance gives away what’s inside. She swivels around to read it, wincing as her back protests.


Below that, another small sign stating that tourist-season opening hours are 11 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. Three hours to wait.

She turns back around, rests her elbows on her knees. Takes in the empty street. It’s still early in the village. Most people are probably tucked up in bed, while the early risers are starting on the croissants and coffee as they scroll through their phones and glance out of the windows, soaking up the views.

He coughs. ‘What now?’ His voice is ragged, hoarse. His breathing laboured. He needs medical attention.

She stands up, wipes a hand across her face, smearing the mud and tears that have replaced her make-up. She walks carefully around him, leans in close to the sign next to the door. ‘There’s a phone number here. For emergencies.’

He coughs again.

‘We don’t have phones, remember?’

She sighs. Walks away from him, glancing up and down the street. ‘Something must be open.’ She pauses. ‘I could go to the hotel.’

He shakes his head. ‘Not sure that’s a good idea, is it? You said we need to stick to the plan.’

She hesitates. Unsure. ‘Yes, but . . .’ Her eyes travel over him. His injuries. His pain. After everything that’s happened, maybe this is too much. ‘I could go somewhere else. Get help. We need assistance now, not in three hours . . .’ She walks further away from him, takes in the street filled with closed shops, hotels still sleeping, no public phones in sight. She starts to walk along the street. Her heart starts to beat faster. She could change the plan. It’s not too late. Is it? She glances back. He’s clinging on to the railing, trying to stand up.

He calls out to her, his voice barely a rasp. ‘Don’t leave me here. Please.’

She stops walking. She is torn. She turns back fully and takes a long look at him. He’s broken. Maybe enough is enough. She walks back to him, sits down on the step again. Lays a hand on his arm, guiding him back down. She shuffles across, lets him lean against her. Feels his warm body against hers. His breathing slows.

‘Thank you,’ he whispers.

Side by side they sit, waiting. They are in this together.

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