The lone woman

Irene is thirty-seven years old and just out of prison after a four-year sentence for terrorist involvement. On her first night of freedom, she wanders from bar to bar, picks up a stranger, and spends the night with him in a hotel. He treats her badly; she attacks him and escapes. She decides to return to her native Bilbao, and while waiting at the bus stop in Barcelona, she is approached by a man she believes to be a plainclothes policeman. By attaching herself to two nuns, she manages to board the bus without him, and her journey begins.

Other passengers on the bus include another plainclothes policeman, who is joined by the first farther down the line. Conversations strike up, and there begins an intricate game of hide-and-seek between strangers as they open up a little, make advances and diversions, and sidestep nimbly. As the bus continues across Spain and the travelers come increasingly into focus, Atxaga builds up tensions that can be resolved only after their arrival in Bilbao.

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