Wet Paint

Ellen in Joyce's garden (3)

WET PAINT ON RAILINGS. WET PAINT ON BENCHES. The Promenade is having its yearly touch up. I haven’t seen the painter. There is usually a team of them, overall-ed and radio on, paint drying too fast in the sun. Not this year. The wind has wrenched the taped-down signs from the floor.

Wind. Wind was strong this morning. Battering. A young man walking along South Marine his skimpy jacket collar pulled up shielding his face against the wind. Sorry about the music, he said to me as we passed. What music? I heard no music. He hurried on. His winkle-pickers turning up at the ends like jesters’ shoes. Yesterday a young girl, who from a distance looked ancient, shoeless traipsing across the stones, her boots in her hand.

I’ve been writing reviews. Caught up in the writing and the fretting. I’ve a list of things to think about, to consider. The chatterbox in Ta Med Da. She talks so fast. She needs to talk. Anyone will do. I touch her arm. Don’t go, she is saying, don’t go.

I ask what she did at the weekend. She went dancing, in Rummers. The pub by the sewage works. I remember. I remember the sawdust and a new dress. They have live bands. She loves to dance. During the day she works on the tills. She handles my fruit with such care. I thank her. Other people have said the same, she says, smiling. Do you dance alone? I ask, tentatively. Oh, no, she says, I wouldn’t do that. Wouldn’t go to a pub alone. I go with what I suppose I should call my partner. I change the story in my head. She is not alone. That is good.

We bump into her by the harbour. Her voice is remarkable. A jazz singer’s voice. A pub voice, deep, throaty, almost male. I knew her from the pubs, he said afterwards. Margo. She lives in Germany now, but is over here looking after her father. He can be cantankerous at times, she says. She looks tired, trapped. I’ve a week off, he’s going into respite care, she says, but it’s so expensive.

A boy is juggling with fire. I felt wary about getting close. Just a boy in a lumberjack shirt.

I wear dark nail varnish on two finger nails. Looks trendy, he says. It’s a cover-up. To cover-up the staining. Dark, brackish green. Some damage in the nail root. Mum had something similar though not the staining. I live with it. It is nothing.

He had a heart monitor for a day. Tick, tick. Strapped to his chest. Circular plasters. It looks like a colostomy bag, he said. Fragile. Tick, tick.

I dreamt she was still a child. We were bathing her, me and him. Her hair was fine. I wanted to wash it twice. Make it clean. She was silent, acquiescent, trusting.

Breakfast time. Adieu.