The (almost entirely true) Story of
Jessie and the Mountain
by Dreena Collins
Jessie would not go.
They told her that she had to move. The mountain, y mynydd, was sliding ever closer: inching and scuttling shingle and stone, until one day it would subside. It was for her own good, they said. Her safety.
She stood in her porch, looked up towards the peak, mottled in purples, greys, greens. They talked as if it was sly, this crag. Not to be trusted. And it was steep and splintered, sharp — but it was a confident landscape. Reassuring.
These men did not worry her. She had met liars before.
She was dewr, she was cynical. 18 cats at her feet.
A hundred residents had already left, or more. The men were quick to knock down what they could. Of the few houses left, most were abandoned and hollow; the remains of the terrace had slipped into disarray. Doors and windows boarded or broken — casements gaping into black rooms like a row of rotten teeth.
Jessie kept her steps swept; her windows clean.
She invited politicians to see; made them cups of tea — cryf it was. Strong. They did not expect her, pinnied and rollered; they did not expect her 75 years. They sat in her kitchen, discussed mountains and valleys, values.
The council gave an order: it was illegal to stay. But she was not concerned. 23 cats at her feet, she rarely left her home now. She was no fool: they would come as soon as she was absent. They would come for her cats and her home and her memories.
The gaps in the street turned to furrows, edging closer to her door. There was less between her and the mountain, each week, and the scene of the summit from her doorway grew broader, encompassing the view.
Jessie was powerful — pwerus — but she would not have called it such. She was just staying home, she said. She only wanted to be left alone.
‘But what about the mountain?’ they asked. Surely she was fearful?
But no, no matter, it would not shift. Mountains hold steady and true. Mountains do not lie.
Inching, crawling, day by day the vehicles crept until they were at her front door. The only door left. The street was a battlefield: they were caked in mud and purpose.
Jessie stood in her porch; 26 cats at her feet. The men came to her, equipped and armoured, ready to go — but she was not. She looked to the mountain, its purple, grey crest: 3000 feet high. 30 million years old.
He was laughing, the one with the hat, a smugness to his face as he explained — very slowly — why she really did need to leave.
Jessie took a swig of tea. Cryf.
And as he spoke, she filled the porch, the space wobbled and shuddered — until she was a draig, until she was y mynydd. All encompassing. Dewr.
29 cats. Determination. Truth. That was all it took.
Because mountains do not move.
Dreena Collins is a writer who also works in education, and lives on the island of Jersey. Dreena has been listed in numerous writing competitions, published in anthologies and online, and in her own short fiction collections. She is currently working on her first novel — progress aided greatly by her inability to sleep beyond 3.30 am.
Scan of photograph of Jessie Moore by David Mansell.