Cat Pee

Sometimes it all just unravels. With us it is usually about communication. One isn’t listening to the other. It stresses us both equally. We want, no need, to be at peace with each other. We are each other’s equilibrium. A tiny thing. Tissues. He wants the ones that open easily and I don’t want the ones that have balsam in them. I mean what is that about? It is nothing and everything. Hear me out. Listen to me. Give what I am saying credence. This is what I need, honour it. Then we take that agitation to the till with us.

There is someone ahead of us. It’s meant to be empty in here, he hisses. I wanted to see him, our ‘friend’ on the till. I wanted to know how the weekend had gone with his sister who he hasn’t seen for nine years. The man ahead clearly wanted to know also. I only came in to see you, mate. How was it? I listened to his exuberance, about the restaurant they’d taken him to and Dylan Thomas’s favourite pub. What? I could feel him bristling beside me. There? But I thought DT had lived in Pembrokeshire. Neither of us could remember the name of the place. And that made me more stressed, he said afterwards. We got there in the end. Does it begin with double l? I asked. The guy at the till wasn’t bothered. He wanted to hold to the story he’d been told. The weekend had been so special. It was like eating food from MasterChef, he told the man ahead of us. I’m glad he had a good time, was fussed over. I asked if his sister had commented on the clean carpet he’d spent the week before cleaning with a ‘rug doctor’. No, he said, but me shag pile rug started reeking. What’s that smell? I thought, he said. And it was the hessian underneath. It had got damp from the carpet and was stinking. It smelt like cat pee. I couldn’t leave it there when they came, he said, so I chucked it outside.

I felt bleak this morning. There is no rhyme or reason for it. It could be my dream, though the one I remember wasn’t so bad. I found myself dwelling in a room, in an old people’s home with two other women sleeping next to me. They were silent, heads barely visible under the covers. A clean white room. The radio was on and I worried about how it might interfere with my work. A warden came in and opened the window but it only opened into an inner chamber. I opened the one that looked out beyond the building. It was night outside and the moon shone on the rooftiles.

My final coaching session today. I am reluctant to delve. What will it bring up?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.