It gave me a shock. For a start I thought I was alone. He’d come out of the shadows, probably having slipped through one of the side roads off the Prom. The sound was huge. A hard, echoing sound as if it were resonating from a deep cavern. I felt the hackles rise up my back. What is that? And then I saw him. A thin, rake of lad, stuffing his face with something from a KFC carton. He’d let out a belch and then resumed eating. No pardon, or acknowledgement of my presence. He just walked on by. Disgusting, isn’t it? he said when I recounted the experience at breakfast. I don’t know. Is it? I just couldn’t get over the┬ámagnitude of the sound and my reaction to it. She wrote about being scared of the dark. Was she, is she? I hadn’t known that. I am, was. I try to walk into it now but it clearly makes me super-sensitive, alert. And such shocks shatter something. Is it good to go through life so skinless?

There were lots of bodies about this morning. More than usual. I suppose it was something to do with the easing of the wind. I could walk the Prom this morning. I was glad to. I went without my ipod. In silence. I wanted to be open. A couple, arm in arm walked towards me along the Prom. Another were just clambering out of a car when I came down South Marine. And then there were the two boys in the doorway along Darkgate Terrace. I thought they were struggling to get the key in. I saw a flash of light, a mobile phone? No, it was a lighter. It worked. They both dragged on their cigarettes and walked on. There was an ambulance parked in the middle of Terrace Road. I watched as a boy stumbled and then dropped something. His legs almost gave way. A lad and girl were standing outside the Why Not? club. Nothing is going on. January’s torpor. Everyone tries to behave as normally as possibly, but there is just this gloom.

Daylight now. I’ve done my chores. She called them ‘chores’. I liked that. The sky is a baby-blue, its clouds yellowy. From our upstairs window I can see Elephant’s mother waving off her other two children. Elephant is resting on her hip, clinging. A zygote child, she has none of her parents extreme slimness. And she is bespectacled. Indulged though. I hear her shouting, crying, demanding. She often goes to Nursery School dressed as a princess, her pink Disney-like confection of a dress dragging along the ground. They’re not very friendly, are they? he says of them. He’s right, both parents avoid eye contact. Perhaps they just want to keep themselves to themselves, I say.

They haven’t collected the recycling. The bags still lie along pavements and in people’s front gardens. It’s unsettling such forgetting. It feels like the world is awry. Silly really considering the terror of so many beings’ lives. I hear of them through the radio, snapshots of war zones as I do my yoga. How do we live with such discrepancies? I think of what I don’t have and then of what I do. So much. It all boils down to love and being loved. I know this. Sugary or not. True. I am held. He catches me whenever I slip. There, always. Loving me. All that having is nought to that. Nought.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.