Betws Mountains

…Into the Fire

Caitlin O’Sullivan

Photos taken on a better day when I could actually see the valley

I had been waiting for warmer weather before heading up Betws mountain, and it wasn’t until my editor messaged me “piece” that convinced me I had no more time to wait. I had to get out into the misting, miserable, soak-through-to-your-bones hellish wetness that was my country, with a cold. Out of the frying pan…

“Sshhhh I’m sleeping…..” I messaged back.

“By tomorrow please,” he said. I could imagine him sighing and rolling his eyes.

I looked out of the window, and it wasn’t promising. I just got in from my 3am shift. I knew how cold that wind was.

“Ugh.” I blew my nose and coughed phlegm to convince myself that I had a right to feel sorry for myself. Travel Writing waits for no woman. Nor does Joel. If I died, I’d get someone to kill Joel too, or maybe chain him to a rock on Betws Mountain for all eternity like Prometheus.

“How’d you get here, mush?”

“I killed my writer and must atone,ā€ he’ll reply.


Ironically I was the one playing with fire, as all I had for comfort was a lighter and a thermos of tea. I couldn’t open the flask because my hands were too wet. My legs were soaked and shivering, my hands sticky and covered in bits of paper; due to the limitations of modern technology, I was using a now disintegrating piece of paper as a map.


“Ugh.” I stomped past the church for the second time, it was freezing, I couldn’t see crap because of the torture falling from the sky. Somewhere I’d taken a wrong turn. It should have been impossible; the route was basically a straight line. I realised then that I should just go home, say screw Joel, screw writing, and curl up under a blanket with a real cup of tea and not-wet tissues. Pathetically rubbing my hands on the thermos lid trying to open it, I decided to carry on.


I thought I had to be making progress because the pavement disappeared. Despite the stupid rain, the walk was smooth, there wasn’t a steep incline, and houses on both sides meant the wind was much more manageable than I had assumed. About 40 minutes in, hardy, scrubby grasslands on all sides and a really fantastic view of the valley almost made me feel like the trip was worth it. My face was so cold and wet, I didn’t realise I had snot all over my chin until I wiped it off, but I stood looking out over Betws, ā€œin which the burden of the mystery, in which the heavy and weary weight of all this unintelligible world, is lightened.ā€

Yes, this was the perfect place to chain my editor to a rock.


Editor: Joel Emmons

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