Day one.

He looks at me with concern. Are you sure you want to do this? Yes. I am. I am certain, though my body may have other ideas. I have done it before. A few times. Did I manage a whole week? Possibly, but I think I drank fruit juice too. Why do you want to do it? he asks. Good question. There isn’t just one answer. I want to clean myself out. I want to stop getting the stomach pains, the cramps, the bloating and all the other myriad symptoms that are lumped under irritable bowel syndrome. I want to feel at peace, emptied out, lighter in mind and body. Food makes me feel heavy, weighed down. Not fruit so much, at least not citrus fruit. I have a crap relationship with food. I’ve ingested so many of the dos and don’ts, often conflicting ones, that I no longer know what I should and shouldn’t eat. And my appetite. Well, there’s a thing. I can’t remember when I began to be scared of it. You’ve got a good appetite, say my family, friends and him sometimes. Ugh, I hate it. Have I? I eat slowly. I eat a lot of vegetables, fruit. So it looks a lot. You see it isn’t clear cut. The other thing is is the desire for an unclogged mind. I might see my way forward then. Clarity. And time. All that preparation time, think what I might do instead. But I have to be careful. Remember what happened in Bath, he says. Yes. I know. I will take it one day at a time.

So house has been cleaned, emails read, this done and then work. No tea. I miss that. Two weeks until I have another cup. Today it’s lemon juice and ginger. Breakfast was a huge pot of licorice tea. I shall work on my taste buds and direct them to focus on the taste of the teas. Like the lemon zinging on my tongue. It will have to do.

I dreamt of both my parents last night. They were together and happily so. It was a mishmash of families. Mine, her step one and the one from Tanum. All together in one house. But we were also out at a restaurant, on a foreign street I am always revisiting in my dreams. We were trying to plan the evening ahead. My father said to my mother, we may as well dress for dinner. And there was a baby there, my baby, who suddenly started to wail. I want my milk bottle, it said to me. My mother handed one to it and it began to suck. I thought it was a stranger’s bottle and not clean but she pooh poohed my worries. She took care of everything. I felt loved by her. I even think she told me I was beautiful. Earlier in the dream she’d pinched the flesh on my arm, not brutally, but to demonstrate and said that I would grow old and have sepsis. It’s what happened to her. And she died of it. I miss her. Like that. She could love. But in the end it just got to hard. She was so brittle.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.