Gap Year

I saw his red pants first. They were sitting, his friends and he, on a bench just beyond the entrance to the Pier Pressure nightclub. I was walking and trying to capture, in my head, ways to describe the mingled stink of fast food that seemed to hang like a cloud over the pier. There’s a new fish and chips shop to the right of the club which must’ve accounted for the additional stink of vinegar, on top of fried chicken, pizza and beer. It wasn’t unpleasant. The sharply salty warmth, slightly fetid was actually comforting. It took the edge of my usually anxious thoughts that tend to reach a climax at that point of my walk. Excuse me, asked the boy with the red underwear showing under his jeans. Yes? I said, momentarily charmed by the fact that someone had spoken to me. Not invisible then? Would you like to come away on a Gap year with us? I’d been expecting a request for a match at most or the loan of some money, not that. I didn’t think. No thank you, I replied and walked on. Then kicked myself. I should’ve asked where, at least. They were taking the piss. They cannot know me, or even wished to do so. Was it a dare? I waited for the tittering. It didn’t come.

There were too many people. I didn’t get a chance to be alone with the work. He asked if I wanted to meet her, gave me too much of her story. I didn’t want it but I couldn’t say that, could I? She was delicate, self-effacing, a little mousy. Her power is in the work. What shall I write? It was too much. Just that? It was too much.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.