He told him we coped. Coped. We cope, he told me he said. Such an unsexy word. Coping, keeping heads above water. It is all part of it. The growing up the letting loose of all romantic notions of being saved, of escaping of becoming something other than what one is. We cope. Is it enough? Is it epitaph enough for myself or our relationship? They coped. She coped.

We watched it again, as we do, over and over. He likes it and I do too. And there he was before me on the screen stirring up my desire body. I didn’t bid it. I didn’t want it. I’m in coping, keeping-my-head-down, mode after all. What is it about him that does it to me? It’s not a chaotic, crazed kind of desire but a gentle awakening. Sunlit. Not rapacious, ravenous but an awareness of an appetite for something specific, something rarefied. He is so much younger than I. His skin is honeyed. At least it was then. What is it about him, that particular actor? It’s intriguing how he does it to me. So few do, these days. It’s all locked away.

I need to let go. I walk and plan. I walk and fret. I walk and try to catch hold. Let it go. Let it happen. And it will somehow or another. Can’t all the solutions have their own satisfaction? Let go the rigidity. Let it be. I chant it as I walk.

I was going to bring the last of the mince pies but wanted to check if he was still there, after all it was a cold night. A clear sky and 0 degrees. He was there but so was a man, who I mistook for a coat. He was standing leaning against the wooden wall of the shelter as the man slept. Was he watching over him? It gave me a shock. It felt sinister. Was it?

Reading through my sketchbooks yesterday stays with me. Impressions of drawings I made and the places I took shelter in. I mostly recall the sensory sensations. Whether I was cold or hot, wet or dry, whether there was good coffee to drink and somewhere private to sit. Another drawing from a favourite coffee shop, a chain, but still decent, near Bygdoy Alle and the tramline. I wanted so much then. I hoped for so much. Then.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.