‘The Mountain Inn’ by Guy de Maupassant

I was pronouncing ‘Guy’ incorrectly, the librarian told me. Still getting used to being comfortable with choosing my own etiquette for approaching collections, I read the title story first as a light bedtime treat. I read it again. I kept reading under my covers with a torch until four in the morning, the first time I had ever seen that time on a clock. The underside of my duvet was an alpine slope, the shadows in my curtains were the trunks of sycamores and rifle butts, a knot of wood on my desk was a screaming, hopeless mouth. Nowadays perhaps I would attempt to categorize the stories as psychological thrillers or ghost stories or tight, taut, social commentaries—all I knew at the time was that the final sentence of ‘The Mountain Inn’ reversed the flow of blood in my veins and that the next day when I saw a large-eyed, soft-pawed dog chasing after a ball in the park, I burst into tears and would not be consoled.

Translated by H. N. P. Sloman. Found in a soft, green 1957 Penguin books with a far too sedate cover, available to read online here

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