First Kiss

The last stragglers were filing out of The Angel when I walked by on my way home. One girl was trying to teach her male companion some dance steps in the middle of the walk street just before The Academy. She was laughing, linking her arm in his and swaying as she watched her feet making their moves. Another was singing. I’ve had my first kiss tonight, she sang, I’ve had my first kiss, over and over. I often think about the Pakistani family who run the newsagent on the corner. They must be woken continually from the noise outside the pubs, clubs and take aways on and near their street that stay open long in to the early hours. He always looked sour-faced and unhappy whenever I used to go in there.  (I stopped doing so, his misery was contagious. ) Was it the result of broken nights (though his wife was forever cheerful) or homesickness?

We were the only ones in the office and she asked me about the book I was reading. We conversed and she shared intimacies, as I did. She seems a sympathetic woman when she talks. It felt good to give her some time. Will she be warmer next time?

He found a cheque the other day. It was on the floor of the SPAR, I believe. He was bemused. He couldn’t remember the name of the Payee or the payer but he did remember that they shared the same surname. A relative then. But the puzzle was that the cheque was dated from the December last year. And it was for £250. Why hadn’t they cashed it? he asked when he returned home after taking it to the police station. He’d begun spinning stories about it, a student needing the money and forgetting that it was in their pocket. Would anyone do that? Let’s hope it finds its rightful home.

Virginia Woolf’s short story (one she wrote prior to or perhaps during the novel) Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street, was on the radio. I’ve heard it twice now. It is so beautifully written and so simple. A walk to the shops to buy gloves. Long gloves for her party with pearls button, the French way. But it’s the detail, the way her thoughts meander from the people she sees, the Baroness who’s lost her son in the Great War, to the shop assistant, still there after twenty years, and to her loss of faith in God. She is so happy to be there walking those London Streets that I am entranced. And I know that feeling, particularly in the morning when the sun is shining and its light bounces off the white stucco. Anything is possible and life is so alive.

Preoccupied with all these alarming bodily happenings I forget to feel alive. To take notice and pay attention to what is outside of me and all this tangle of anxiety. I forget all is as it should be. All is well.  

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.