Cold (13)

For all my discomfort and ensuing self-pity my senses are heightened. I see things, I hear things, I smell things so sharply. They called just as I was about go home. Another booking in two hours time. He couldn’t pick me up, I’d have to walk home and my back was rigid, tired and worn. It had been a long, long day. Just holding it together. Holding him together. The meeting was all wrong. Why am I offering myself when I have nothing to give? I didn’t like the mustiness of the shop, the office and the brusqueness of one of the women. Can you put the fire on? I asked. I’m just doing it now, she said curtly. Oh, my fear of being cold. Their boiler had broken and the landlord is slow in organising a repair. It was ever thus. So I sat there with my coat on the whole time. She is a good woman. The other one. I like her with her warm North-East accent. But she was unwell too. Nothing felt right. And outside the rain came down. I’d left him in the coffee shop reading. We cling to each other, I want to be there for him, offering an arm, and yet I want to be alone too. To run. To just have to think of myself and to get stronger. Walking home in the almost dark was magical. That blue light. But my back felt like it was going to snap. A twig. My┬ábody felt like a twig, buffeted by the wind, ready to snap. Snap. Every step jarred. Where is my strength?

She got a sparkly top, said one of the women sitting in a cosy cabal of three on the sofa opposite us in the coffee shop. He knows them all. She’s the one who adopted a child, he tells me. I love such inconsequential chat. I love the sweet nothingness of it. I want to giggle, says a girl to her male friend, as I walk past. Was that a plea for something other, something light? A girl down there has just been sick, said another girl wearing a overly-large jumper, to nobody in particular. I walked though I longed to stay in. It rained when it should’ve been dry. Heigh ho.

The reading is a pleasure. I immerse myself in it. I lose myself, the boundaries of myself. In my dream I was Sarah. I am Sarah. On that road, her box swapped for a knapsack so she can travel lighter. Searching for him. Always.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.