Have you seen it? she asked as she scanned a netted bag of oranges. What? The whisky, she said, that bottle by the door, its humungous. No, we said. Well have a look when you leave. I mean who’d buy that? she asked. I looked around me. Straight ahead were plastic wrapped packages of litre bottles of Coke, ten to a pack, a pile of them, four feet high. And surrounding the tills were litre bottles of Baileys. Row after row of them. At the entrance to store tins of Celebrations and Quality Street lined the foyer. So much. So much abundance. Can you see it? she called as we left. There. It was huge as were the three Toblerone bars next to it. The abundance of Christmas. It is too much forĀ me. I used to like going to Harrods to see the displays, relishing the show, the splendour, but not now. Not any longer. It is too much. Too much for me. I just don’t want all that, I said to him when we got into the car. Perhaps its because we’re happy, he said. Yes, perhaps it is.

I thought he was following me. I’d been trying to let loose my mind. To be mind-less and mindful. I’d started to listen to the sounds as I walked. The rhythmic rush and whoosh of the sea, the wind tearing round the harbour, rattling at the boats rigging. I was loosing myself to sound. And then I saw him. A dark figure in the gloom coming out of one of the houses facing the harbour. I kept on walking. He was a little behind me. I took the steps up onto South Road and but could still hear him. My back muscles stiffened. I walked faster. Then I turned. Best get a look at him and remember the detail. My mind was in overdrive, all peace gone. A small, young man with longish hair, hanging straight around his face. He wore no coat, just a shirt outside his jeans. I caught a glimpse of his face, a sad look almost a scowl. I kept on walking, crossing the road fast onto Mill Street. Flashing yellow lights. Two man working a drain. They worked in silence, knowing the moves. In harmony. The man had gone.

I stopped again at the top of the hill looking down onto Llanbadarn Road. I stood perfectly still. Switching my mind off. Imagining a red switch like the one we have for the cooker. Off. I stood watching the wind blow the leaves of a rock crop, one leaf was almost dead and itĀ flapped furiously in the wind. I paid full attention to the leaf, seeing its disharmony with the rest, bearing witness.

Vivid dreams again last night. Dreams about washing. Washing myself and washing our clothes. A shower became a washing machine. All in disarray, dirty clothes everywhere. No walls and no privacy. A young girl watching me. Someone turning off the shower. Then another dream, this time Audrey Hepburn was dancing. She danced under rocks. It was a set, a theatre set and she was dressed Diaghilev-style, with strong pre-Bauhaus-esque colours. Hard to describe. I was a spectator as was a man and we were discussing the performance. She literally danced under the rocks on the stage, forcing her body beneath them. How hard it is to describe dreams, they defy containment or logic. One just knows them. Or at least I do. Playing them over and over, trying to get to the nub.

Bits to do. Bits to order. I go to the home today. I don’t know what I’ll make of it. Keep open, that’s all. Wait and see, she’d say. Wait and see.

A wild wind. The homeless man wasn’t under the castle this morning. Too cold, too windy? He had a dog with him last night as we drove past. I wanted to stop. But what would I say? We are not alone, not really. Are we?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.