A looker

She’s a looker, she said to him as she handed over his coffee, but a real one for the men. They give and they take away. Is it just a Welsh thing? Or a generic female thing? I do like her though, for all her gentle sniping. I’ve warmed to her. Oh, the other one, I forgot to explain. The looker. Yes, she’s a gym coach and a teacher of Welsh. She knew me first and then he’d see her in a coffee shop we used to go to. He’d slag her off at first for speaking Welsh to non-speakers. Pushing it on others, he’d say. I don’t think she was or is. She just likes to speak her mother tongue. I watched her talking to him. She is certainly different with him than she is with me. Her face lights up. She sparkles. Is it conscious? I don’t know. He likes her now, he too has warmed. She is a looker. She has lovely eyes. But there is a slowness in her response. Odd. She used to be a primary school teacher, perhaps that is it. I don’t know. I heard him speak some Welsh to her and her surprise that he could. I’ll have to just speak Welsh to you in future, she said. He laughed. Do I mind the flirting? If indeed it is. No. I used to. I was scared, uncertain of my place in his life. He flirted to keep me at bay. Not now. Not now. Back to the other one. I do so like her. I gave her a hug for Christmas. She laughs with her eyes. Kind. She’s been nominated for an award at work. She is modest about it. Her colleague, also a sniper, it seems, said, she told us, that everyone is put forward for awards. Was she? we ask. No, she says.

Be gracious. Be kind. Friends reply to my emails welcoming me, inviting me to stay. I am touched. We will go. Let us go. Let us be open to their kindness. To receive. For what we are about to receive. My sister is the same as me. Cutting off all chance of joy before it can happen. Cancelling plans, rearranging, staying away. I cannot blame her, I have done the same, often. But is OK. It is OK to be you, he says, over and over again.

A mild morning. I wore too many clothes. It was nice not to be frozen. It takes up so┬ámuch energy. I feel my fortunateness, my blessings. Tomorrow we go to see family. Just a brief visit. Not for long. I plan and plan. In overdrive. Wasn’t there a group called that? he asked coming out of the shower. Yes, Bachman Turner Overdrive. Smashy and Nicey used to play them, do you remember? We laugh. I like the silliness.

I get myself so wound up, so tight. My arms and my back become rigid, immobile. And yet, there is this underlying layer of joy. I heard a blackbird, saw a new lit Christmas tree, felt the gentle wind in my face. I strode forth, harnessing the power in my thighs. He is a source of constant pleasure to me. We talked about watching Scrooge on Christmas Day. The one with Alistair Sim. A black and white movie. Perfect. Just what we were looking for. A bit of laziness, a bit of imploding. Just the two of us. No fuss. No to do. The last advent candle on Sunday. Then it is here.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.