Do other people feel like this? This bleakness, this closed-in sensation? The darkness comes down over me like a shroud. I do what I can to defeat it. I light candles, I keep busy, I hug water bottles, wear big jumpers. Anything that is cosy, warming, softening. He has gone back to bed. I could do that, god knows I hate to leave it when my alarm goes off. But doing seems to be what I need to do. To keep busy hoping that it will pass. That this gloom, this ever-descending bleakness will pass. I walk out into it. It is hard to do that. Every cell in my body shouts out against it, don’t do it, stay in, stay warm, stay in the light. I often dream that my torch doesn’t work. That it’s beam won’t come on. It is never as bad then. Always worse in prospect. How like life. Walking into it makes it manageable. Then I become scared of what awaits me on my return, what the daylight will bring. What is it that is bringing this anxiety? Is it merely symptoms of SAD or the menopause perhaps? Or is it some deeper ennui?

Doing something new. I’m doing something new today and I’m completely out of my comfort zone. And having to rely on another. I cannot direct, cannot take charge, I have to acquiesce, to give in. It doesn’t come naturally. He is gruff, cross at times but I can manage that. I like him for all that. We’ll see. I trust him too.

I asked about her burn. She rolled back her sleeve. A nasty one. I felt it. I felt the heat of it, the sting of it in the pit of my stomach. She doesn’t rattle on as she did. She is calmer with us, with me especially. Respectful. I like her. She warms me, makes me feel wrapped up, cossetted. She is the kind of woman, mother who makes everything all right. And she loves her husband. My Gareth she calls him. He started her car for her so that it was all warm and cosy for when she got in. Everyone needs a Gareth, I said. Yeh, she said, he’s terrific. She is dismissive about her burn. Mind you, you should’ve heard me, she said. It was New Year’s Day. I wanted to do the same meal I’d done for one son, for the other. It was alright, I put Vaseline on it. She has big arms. Farmer’s wife arms. Everything is just so behind the counter. She is proud of her neatness, her order. A worker. She works hard. Is open. And loving. I can see that.

I fret and fret when I am bleak like this. How to be, how to behave with strangers. They wanted to cancel the booking because I wasn’t available for the next guest. It didn’t feel right, I stood my ground. Have I alienated them? I need to trust, all will be well. What is for me will come to me. Always. Always. Let it go. Breathe and let it go. Give the day over, be present but detached. So easy to write, not so easy to put into practice.

A man walked across the road from me. He, like me, seemed without purpose, a stroller. An early morning perambulator. I had my music on and watched the forecourt attendant in the 24 hour garage shout a greeting to a customer. I couldn’t hear the words. He was mopping the floor at the same time. Sometimes the music makes me feel separated. But I have it low. I could still hear the birds. The blackbirds. The robins. They were all in full song.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.