He said he’d bumped into her the other day. She used to be a waitress at a hotel on the Prom that we used to go into for a drink on summer evenings with his mother. The low sun would shine in through the window of the hotel bar and warm me as I sat in the window seat. The one at the far end in front of the mirror. It was a nondescript kind of hotel. It’s gone down since the owners that we knew left. He was a drinker, it killed him in the end. Daphne was like an old retainer. Not many teeth, but such a spirit. Dogged. We saw her recently, she was working in another hotel just outside of town. She must be well in her seventies by now and still on her feet. When he saw her she told him she’d had a new hip.

Rain today. I went out prepared. It was warm which was some consolation. Not many people about. A couple were walking their dog. It looked like a puppy. It pulled a little at the lead, its legs were floppy. A spaniel perhaps. Curly-haired and black. No, said the girl pulling on he lead, as I approached. The dog looked a little alarmed. You don’t like people, she said.

Marina Warner is hosting a radio programme about stories. It’s a repeat, I’ve heard it before. She is very erudite, a joy to listen to. Story writers, she said, make ‘something shapely out of the mess’. And so do I. At least that it what I endeavour to do. Though for now the mess is ever present. So be it.

I dreamt I was living in a tower block. A huge thing. I travelled up it to all the floors. It was full of creative people, painters, potters, writers and artists. They all cohabited. I walked through their rooms trying not to disturb them. It was night and they were sleeping, mostly. There were artists there that I’d written about. Painting, there, in the same building I was living in. I was in awe. Also the edifice awed me. I looked out of the window and we were above the sky, it was so tall. We were living on the ground floor and running a grocery cum convenience store. It was a little makeshift. The fridge was falling apart. We shared it with an Asian couple. They were nice and pro-active. Nothing much else happened. It was about discovery and knowing that this wealth of talent and energy lived about me.

He woke with indigestion, poor love. These small hurts assail us. Work for tonight has been cancelled. I can’t say I’m sorry though the money is always welcome. My sleep for now will be preserved. Amen to that.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.