Empty Room

I often look at it as I pass along the Prom. It’s on the ground floor of Alexandra Hall, one of student halls, on the far end of North Beach. A large, spacious room, it has one yellow wall where the rest are white. There are chairs, a couple of tables and a monitor on the wall. The lights are almost always on but I have never seen anyone in there. I love the space of it but perhaps it is cold, too cavernous for the students to want to inhabit it. Or perhaps it is locked, preserved, kept pristine  as a teaching or seminar room.

A wet morning, and windy. I walked without the comfort of painkillers. I don’t know why I resist taking them. I am an ascetic, a puritan. I try to manage without too many crutches but my back was rigid without them. Unbending and resistant. But I walked anyway. The man in the black and red sleeping bag was there again. My biscuits had gone. I hope he ate and enjoyed them.

I kept it simple yesterday, I sewed and listened to stories. You’ll have to ring me if I have any appointments, he said. Can’t I just show how to use your alarm on your phone? No, he said. I want to be free of responsibility for him just for a week. And say so. And immediately feel mean. I rely on you, he says. I know, I say, I know. I can’t just step out of it. I need to see this through. He wobbles in the afternoon these days. The details make him fretful. We will deal with them, I say, all too aware of what I am promising.

I think it’s the anticipation of our session on Tuesday,  for I find myself examining my gloom intensely. I want to please her, to show that it has been useful, but for the meantime I am still tunnelled in.

Another funny man on the radio , not dead, but alive, though his immortality has been threatened. The beauty of his modesty, his wish to sit and stare was moving.

Lend me the grace to accept what is, and to be present in all life’s colours ever curious.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.