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,” 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, β€œin which the burden of the mystery, in which the heavy and weary weight of all this unintelligible world, is lightened.”

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


Editor: Joel Emmons


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