‘Fialta’ by Rebecca Lee

It’s shameful to say the reason I love this story is because it’s set somewhere I’ll never get to go, and would love to – an architectural residency, the equivalent of somewhere like Yaddo or MacDowell for apprentice architects. It’s run by Nostbakken, an enigmatic, legendary architect, who seems, the narrator says, “more substantially of the past than anybody I’ve ever met,” and because it’s that kind of place, the narrator is also in charge of its barn animals. Honestly, I love the setting so much that it hijacks my critical faculties and I’m unable to care about anything else here, even the fleeting love story. I’m there for the pancakes, coffee and snow, and for the milking of cows whilst thinking about architecture.

First published in Zoetrope, 2000, and collected in Bobcat and Other Stories, Text Publishing, 2014