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Cheers Now

Our neighbour is standing at his bedroom window when I return home from my walk. It is not yet 4 am. He is a night owl. He sleeps in the early hours waking in time for lunch which he has with his hundred-year-old mother around 12 pm. He is smoking. I see him as I climb the stairs at the end of the raised walkway. I have to remove my headphones from my ears. Good morning, I call, not too loudly so as not to wake the other flat dwellers. I prefer it when I don’t see him. Don’t get me wrong, I like him. He is amiable and was kind when he fell. But I prefer not talk to anybody at that time. I am in my head, my thoughts and having to make small talk is an effort. As I am sure it is for him. He asks how my walk was. I tell him it was a little breezy but at least it didn’t rain. He says that there are flood warnings in other parts of Wales, but that they seem to have missed us. I say that is it set to be fine today. And that he’s at least had his bit of sunshine (he’s just come back from Crete). Yes, he says. You’re lucky, I say as I put my hand on the door handle, see you later. Cheers, now, he says.

The water gathers in my legs. I try to find ways of combating it sleeping with my legs in two pillows in bed, whenever I am standing still I stand on one leg or clench buttocks or stand on tiptoe. It is quite a challenge, like trying to rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time. I watch it keenly. I do not recognise parts of my body anymore. Is this what getting old is? Before she died from lung cancer, the marvellous author, wit and critic Jenny Diski went from 8 stone to 11 stone due to treatment. Her body changed immeasurably. She called it her fat suit.

I know it is nothing to compared to what so many people have to endure. But sometimes I get frightened of losing control of it. Of drowning. I listen to From Our Home Correspondent to give me some perspective. So many tales of strife from Afghanistan from Costa Rica. Poor loves, I listen attentively. Their stories must be told and acknowledged.

Blue sky this morning with white tall clouds. We shall sit out later, he says. Yes.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.