As I walked out this morning I was over-taken by the smell of wood-smoke. It followed me all the way along North Road. Was it from wood-burning stoves? I love the smell, that burnt, rather black odour that is so evocative of clear, cold autumn days. I took the mince pies, and the hat and scarf that I’d intended to give him for Christmas – all wrapped up, a surprise, something for him to open. But then he’d gone. Was gone for those festive days. So I couldn’t. I carried them in a W H Smith’s bag and left them against the wall of the shelter, while he slept under that distinctive orange blanket. No sign of the standing man. I saw a torch light on the beach. A square block of light shining in the blackness. Why is it sinister to see a light like that? I like to feel that I am alone, but I am not. A police car crawled past, on patrol. When I got level with the light I could see a man then another with fishing rods on tripods, their lines cast far into the water. One was hunched over a box of some sort, fixing his bait no doubt. They worked in silence. A communion of sorts. It was cold, -3 apparently. My feet crunched on the sandy gravel that still spread across the Prom. Coming back the back way up the steps I saw a large girl in a pink tracksuit. She stopped when she saw me. Why? I thought. Morning, I said. She had those tattooed eyebrows that hold of look of slight surprise. And there was an unlit cigarette in her mouth. Nice morning for a nice walk, ain’t it, she said, rooting around in her pocket. For a lighter, perhaps? Is that why she’d stopped, to ask for a light? So many do. Yes, I said, cold but nice that it’s dry. See you later, I said, knowing I wouldn’t.

I woke from my dream trying to catch my thoughts before they brought in the gloom. A voice and then an image of a disembodied mouth smiling with its teeth showing. The details will take care of themselves, it said.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.