The rain is cold on my face. I screw up my eyes against the heavy onslaught of sharp sleet, but the sting of it rips the breath from my chest, leaving me gasping. The weather has no mercy for me, struggling fruitlessly against the winds that scream in my ears and rip through my clothes.
Why am I here? The thought crosses my mind momentarily, but like an irksome bug, I brush it aside. I have no time for pondering over reasons I don't understand. I must walk on.
As I walk, I do not think. I try to clear my mind, as the rain continues to hammer and the wind continues to wail. I am in my own, private little paradise where no one can reach me. I am safe, in the warm, empty comfort of my mind.
Feet pull themselves free of mud that clings, grabs, trickles down the neck and into socks. Breath pulls in sharply, is let out in a huff of exerstion. Occasionally, my feet stumble, and I clutch at the weathered stone wall I am following, fingers scrape on the unforgiving rock.
Once or twice, my feet give altogether, and my knees welcome the sticky ground gratefully. Again, the wall is no asset as my fingers fumble for a hold, to heave my body upright. Nettles sting, but I welcome the pain. It distracts me.
How long I walk for, I have no idea. The day ends with a meagre sunset that sinks rapidly beneath the hills, the sky tinged a sickly yellow. No shelter, I crawl close to the wall, pull my hood over my eyes and wait for unconsiousness to take over.
Morning dawns cold, damp, but with no rain. I am soaked, and shiver as I chomp on a stodgy energy bar, half crumbled in the pockets of my waterproof. The water I took from the lake yesterday tastes stagnent and dirty, but I force myself to swallow a few mouthfulls. Some trickles down my grimy chin.
Hours pass, and when the summit arrives, it is an anticlimax. A well worn, ugly concrete bench marks the highest point of the mountain. My calves are screaming at me, making rational thought difficult. More gulps of water.
The sun is hotter up here. Unexpected, so I shrug out of my waterproof and throw it over the bench. I shake the water bottle, wary. The faint sloshing indicates slow supplies, so I hunt for the spring, and fill it slowly.
There is no one else here. Just me and the mountain, and a few dozen sheep besides. They watch me dolefully, chewing the stiff, grey grass that grows on this rocky summit.
I suddenly wonder what drove me to coming. I haven't climbed a mountain since the accident, and I had sworn to myself that I would never climb again. But here I was.
Was it in some, desperate attempt to find him again? Some wild, crazy search sparked off by the onset of boredom at home? Why did I feel this overpowering need to do things? Recently, I had taken to spontanaity, and it worried my mother no end.
'No place for a child, up a mountain,' she would cluck, fussing over her kitchen. 'Dangerous, if you ask me. Stick to the vallies. Slower, but safer.'
In later years, she would always mention the horrifying events of that fatefull climb, quite un-nessacarily. 'Never, ever again,' she had told me, face lined with worry.
I pay no attention when it begins to rain again. I know I've been stupid, coming here again. There's nothing here for me anymore. Anything that I'd thought I might have found.. No. There wasn't any hope. Not now.