I like your dungarees, she said, stopping at our table on the way to loo, I don’t wear mine. She’s rather like the catering assistant up at the University canteen, talking is a nervous thing. They rattle the words out, like a machine gun, not stopping to weigh up the impact. They hardly take breaths in between the words. Like children desperate to maintain a parent’s interest for just a little longer. Children talking about nothing, losing the thread, just longing to communicate. For these two women, I sense it is less about communication, there is no two way channel, but more about not being comfortable with silence, with a vacuum. I like her. I like them both. They have spirit. One, the first, a scrawny, long-legged woman, hippy-like, with a strong Northern accent (is it Yorkshire or Lancashire, I never know?) and a penchant for colourful leggings and clashing patterns. The other, is from the Bush, as he calls it, a farmer’s girl, I suspect. A warm, open-faced woman whose round shoulders appear to carry much. He gave too much away yesterday. It slips out. Whereas, I am more close, holding our story close to my chest. I like it that way. I remain on the outer edges, an observer rather than participant. The curate knows me however. He asks about work. He’d broken his arm. My fingers are still numb, he says. His body is a swollen barrel. He is always breathless. A magnet, a wit, he is forever surrounded by a coven of Welsh women, cackling at his bon mots. I recognise some of them from work but the names have gone. I smile but for the moment I am unrecognisable. He likes it. It is a radical. Shorn, even. She does her best but I think I scare her. It is fine. Not beautiful, but striking. Will that do?

I am edgy about going tomorrow. It unsettles me the prospect of travel. So many unknowns. Yet, I am excited too. It has been a long time since I was there. And to have her in my sight. Will we get on? We are such different creatures, though we share blood. She has so much energy, it scares me sometimes. How will I keep up?

It rained this morning. It shouldn’t have done, he said on waking. No. Two girls were sitting on a Prom bench in the drizzle. I don’t want to be like this anymore, one of them said. Further down the Prom, by the bandstand walked three couples. One of the men had his arm around his girlfriend. She was crying.

It’ll end in tears, she always used to say when the three of us got out of control. Usually giggling. Over-excited. It was the booze, I suspect, with the crying girl. It gets me that way too, I either cry or sleep. That layer of sadness, its membrane punctured.

I think about ways of generating income. No not just for the money but to get my work out there. I’d like to write about my experiences in Norway, as an au pair. I want to get to the heart of it. Confess, I suppose. But how to do this without hurting others. It is perplexing. It’s my story but it crosses into theirs. It will always be the way, I think. I need to find a way of managing it. Be strong but kind. Is it possible to be both?

No answer regarding my requests. Is this a good sign? People are generally slow to reply to most things. I must learn patience, or, even better, how to let go of things. To not hold so tight. All that is mine will come to me. Let it be so.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.