When Ingrid was twenty-five, she lived for four months in a big house on the edge of an unfinished—never to be finished—ski resort. This was in Montana, on Adelaide Peak, twenty years ago. Richie, her much older kind-of boyfriend, and mastermind of the whole sad enterprise, had borrowed against his land to build the house, a baronial place full of grandiose touches like antler chandeliers and stone fireplaces and a drawer that warmed plates. It was the only structure on the mountain. After Richie went missing and Ingrid was left alone, all his expensive possessions started to seem foolish, and a careless contempt for them would steal over her—for him, too, who had been dumb or weak enough to probably die.
Richie liked to say the house was ski-in, ski-out, even if skiing out took some work since there weren’t any lifts. If they wanted to go down, they had to climb up, earn their turns. After the search was called off, Ingrid hiked or skinned up Adelaide on the days when the weather allowed and skied different routes down, looking for some sign: a ski tip poking out of the snow, his blaze-orange beanie snagged on a branch. Truthfully, though, she wasn’t looking very hard. Going up, she often lost herself in the rhythmic jab of her poles, the cold air cycling through her lungs, the crows caw-cawing in the trees, the distant frozen lakes visible from the summit. Coming down, she got to thinking about her technique and line and sometimes forgot all about Richie until she was back at the house. Then the sight of it, stone and timber, dark and empty, reminded her he’d be spending another night out there, somewhere, either dead in the cold with the night creatures or, less probably but still possibly, alive and safe somewhere else, somewhere like the Cayman Islands, having abandoned her and his other problems with one tidy disappearance.