Her light is usually on when I go for my walk at 3.30 am. I walk past her ground floor flat on my way down the hill onto St David’s Road. Sometimes I can see her through the net curtains, a fine cloud of white hair resting its head against the anti-macassar of a high-backed arm chair. A flurry of visitors, we guessed carers but it could have been family, come back and forth. There are always cars parked outside. And now? Nothing. The light hasn’t been on since the New Year. That yellow light. Nothing.
He showed me her picture in the local paper. I think that’s her, he said. She died on the 30th. I thought so. I thought that was the case. Wife, Mother, Grandmother. A huge family is implied. For me she was in the shadows. Brought a couple of months ago to live in that rented flat. No furniture of her own, or so it seemed. Though there were always flowers in a vase. She was brought there to sit in that yellow light. A home from home. In the light yet in the shadows. Rest in peace.
A tall man, rake-thin with a wispy beard is ahead of us in the supermarket queue. I watch as he shoves his groceries every which way into a plastic bag. Tins and pots. Tins with saver labels on them. Tins of tomato soup, baked beans, boiled potatoes, peas and pots, a multitude of pots of jelly. Wobbly jelly it says on the label. In another bag is a bottle with wire contained cork encased in gold foil.
He is at the window smoking when I return from my walk. I can see him as I walk up the stairs, framed in the custard-yellow light of his bedroom. I whisper a good morning, trying to find my voice. We talk of sleep. He’s had a nap and will return to bed presently. My morning is his night. Both idiosyncratic. He plays online poker in the darkness I walk. You’re like a cat, I say. Napping. Snatching small hours of sleep. Cat-napping.
He had been standing on the concrete incline that led down to North Beach. The wind was sharp, harsh. Big fat white earphones were wrapped around his head. He was drinking. Leaning into the wind. I think he noticed me, but made no attempt to move. He just stood there staring at the sea, his bottle brought to his lips over and over. A cliché. A spirit bottle. A swig, the sloshing sound as the liquid was returned to it base. Brandy, whisky? I couldn’t tell. In America it would’ve been in a brown paper bag. He was young. A student. Living his own screenplay.
I wake from a dream with a sentence in my head. It made sense when asleep but brought out of the dream into this reality it does not. A nonsense. No translation. No sense. This good, it said, ends in ig.