I walked past her house this morning and saw the shiny metallic strip stuck in her window announcing Happy Birthday. It was stuck there in front of her net curtains. I knew her from years ago when she used to waitress at The Belle Vue Hotel on the front, when we’d go in the three of us for a drink, and a meal sometimes, and to watch the sunset. She walked with a rolling gait, still does, and most of her teeth were missing. She has a lovely name that, like our next-door neighbour in Cambridge, was perhaps more fitting when she was young, vital and pretty. She’s warm. She remembers him, and his mother, more than me. I don’t think she even knows my name. There was a number 80, hand-coloured, fixed to her front door. I thought she was older. She’s always worked. Her husband must’ve died quite young. And yet her ankles get water-logged and her legs heavy. She keeps going, as so many women do. Is it more of a female thing than a male one? Perhaps. Happy Birthday (was it yesterday?) and may you have many more if you choose it to be so.

Almost finished. I am slow in writing. Is that OK?

Tired this morning. The rain unsettled me. I wanted to enjoy the sound, safe in my bed, but I thought of floods and fear and I lay there fretting. So be it.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.