Dream Shadows

He tells me to ignore them, those dreams that linger in my mind from the night before. My impulse is always to try to understand, to make sense of them. His is to leave them be. I was with my sister in a doctor’s consulting room. Her lover was there, a huge man. Was he also lying on the couch? She was being examined but they were also extracting fluid from her. Was it meant to be blood? It was coming out black. I was horrified. Is that from her kidneys? I asked. Yes, the doctor said, but also from her liver. She made no reply. Perhaps she was under sedation. I seemed to be in the position of carer. The huge man was angry with me, he appeared to hold me responsible for what was ailing her. And yet she is so fit, I said.

Still deep in Elisabeth Gaskell. What a huge life. So many visitors, and five children too. She took to the couch when her little son died of scarlet fever but still managed to write Mary Barton. I am constantly in awe of these prolific Victorians, even if they did have their ‘Hearns’ to see to all the domestic stuff for them. I’m always a little put-out on those servants’ behalfs that they must be known by the surname alone. So impersonal. They become like an adage, a chattel. I baulk at it.

An overcast day. It promises, well they promise, some sun. I miss it. I await my interview with her. There is always butterflies. I find encountering others harder and harder as I grow older. I’m glad that he doesn’t insist on an open house. This closed one of ours suits me. As it does him. We don’t entertain, I said to that neighbour who invited us over and didn’t repeat the gesture. I wasn’t rude merely honest. It felt refreshing to be so. After all, where would they sit? We only have two of everything.

Another hole in his one of his jumpers to mend. It is a juggling act with little fanfare – a muddling along life with only my thoughts that reach beyond and those little sparks of ideas like foetuses yet to be born, or even developed. In my head I have largesse like GS and a world of possibilities.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.