Cross Words

I don’t like this bickering, he said. I know, nor do I. It hurts. It hurts us both. It comes without anyone’s bidding. There is an unease. It could be a variety of things, though I suspect, we both suspect it is the new medication. It makes his skin thin, he is irritable, touchy with it. He doesn’t mean to be, he tries to reign it in. I can see, feel him doing it. But when he is tired it is harder. As it is with me and my resistance of it. We bicker over little things. Mostly because we are no longer understanding each other, no longer in tune. Something misses. It is the saddest thing, for in truth we know each other so well. Too well for comfort sometimes. It is a fractious time. For I too am thinned – wary, overly-aware of all things. I try to walk it through. I didn’t want to this morning as I awoke to the sound of heavy rain on the metal roof beneath my window. And this returned dark weighs on me. But I did go. I went out into the rain. It is never as bad as it seems from the inside looking out. I like the smell of the air both after and during rain, it is cooler, fresher, almost sweet. And I like to walk under my umbrella (there was no wind, so this could be done, it only blew inside out once) listening to the pitter of drops on its taut surface. I feel safe under its canopy. It was alright. I walked and thought of my feet meeting the pavement, trying to concentrate on the action of walking, feeling it in my hips, my thighs. There was no one about, another good reason to walk in the rain, except for the smoking woman with the carrier bag who walks and then shops in the 24 hour garage on Mill Street. I wonder why she is out at this time? If we pass each other on the Prom she either looks away, down or keeps her eyes looking straight ahead. There is no eye contact. Perhaps she has been told to exercise. She always wears the same sweatshirt top, pink and with a zip. And the same walking boots and leggings. Her gait is lumbering, she rolls as she projects herself forward. Determined and grim.

I look for beauty. For beauty that will transport. I’m not a romantic, you know, says Charlotte Lucas to Elizabeth Bennet in the BBC adaption of Pride and Prejudice (did she actually say that in Jane Austen’s book?). I am but I am trying to shed it, such notions are of no use to me. I want Charlotte’s practicality. All I want is a comfortable home, she says. I think about buying No. 1 but quickly talk myself out of it. It is too dark, dingy even. And the light we have here is marvellous. The morning is coming. A gentle morning today before I have to go into work. Will everything work after the refurbishment? Ah, this constant change. She writes, they both write, to say they will take care of things. It’s lovely. I feel cared for. So what of the beauty? What did I see this morning? The individual daffodils on the little sloping lawn in front of the Veterinary building on the Buarth, bright dots of light in the pitch black. And that bare, leafless tree sparkling with diamond-like rain drops.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.