Cold (11)

There was a crying girl sitting on a door step just as I turned into South Road. I heard her before I saw her. I stopped in front of her. Are you alright? Such an inane thing to say, I thought to myself, even as I said it. Of course, she isn’t alright, she’s crying. I scanned her face and body quickly, no sign of violence, blood or injury. I asked her again if she was alright and if there was anything I could do. She looked almost irritated that I’d stopped and questioned her. Petulant even. I’m OK, she said, really. And I sensed her willing me to move on. I did so and she continued her wailing. Perhaps she was trying to attract a particular person’s attention.

We are both looking back, she and I. She on her looks, comparing photos from ten years ago with how she looks now. She does it via Facebook and her friends comment, telling her she is still beautiful. I am doing it through my sketchbooks, trying to find something authentic, a vestige of me that I can believe in. Did you mean for it to be in colour? he asks. Well, yes, cos I thought that was what you wanted. We are at cross-purposes. Would I mind if they alter it? Not at all, I am not precious about it. It pays my rent. I do my best that’s all.

All too often we let the small brave acts go unnoticed yet for some of us they are massive achievements. He came back from the eye test and got into the car driving it around the block. Such a brave thing. And he did it alone. I had no idea. So much has fallen away. But he is trying to find his courage. It is enough.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.