6 months

The hotel was busy, busy than we’d expected. People came in and out of the adult’s lounge, many of them to sit down in front of the communal jigsaw which was almost finished, to attempt to add another piece. A man in a pair of red corduroys was the most interested, even looking over the shoulder of another resident who sat before it an hour or so later. It was a chocolate-boxy image, but the remaining pieces to be found were all representing some kind of berry-bush. Do you think some might have fallen on the floor? the red-trousered man asked another woman, as he bent over to look under the table. The same man joined a group of about five people eventually who took over two tables at the other end of the room from us. It was pleasant to hear their chatter. Clearly well-heeled, they were planning where to go for lunch the next day. The red-trousered man elected himself drinks monitor and kept coming back and forth carrying large glasses of red wine and G&Ts. A bridge table was laid out ready, though no one took notice of it. What bliss. What bliss it is to step into another kind of life and to not matter, to not be noticed or interfered with. We did crosswords, as is our wont and drank tea (too much in my case) and wasted time staring at the view of the sea and the golf course. He tried the number again while we were there. The second time someone answered. Six months, they said. It will be sixth months before an appointment for the MRI comes available. He thought it would be imminent. Has it helped to know this? Somewhat. It’s real. It’s how it is. Nothing till April. We have to wait. I can wait. There is life to be getting on with after all.

South Beach was a state. Or at least the Prom alongside it was. The bins overflowing. There must have been parties, Guy Fawkes night parties. There was a sign at the hotel advertising a firework display with the proviso that it could be watched ‘safely’ from inside the lounge. Ideal. My favourite. Who needs the cold, the wet and the wind? We heard them last night. Bang bang but I still slept.

The tea made me crotchety. Is that all? I heard myself saying to the waitress when she brought my salad. It was a pathetic attempt at one. A tiny pile of leaves and an assortment of tomatoes and horrid green olives. But I shouldn’t have said it like that. I was hungry and cross. I always am when I have to eat other people’s food. It is rarely palatable. What a fuss-pot. I never used to be. I think about food all the time, not because I want to eat necessarily but because I need to control what I consume. She talked about my appetite, he does too. Do I have such a huge one? I try to manage it, it scares me. Curb, curb. I have to let it be as he has to let the insomnia be. Accept and it will either pass or lessen. I think. Nevertheless, it was a lovely day and the landscape looked superb in its autumn colours. What a joy that was.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.