Help is at hand

It rang in my head as I woke. It had been the title of his lecture. Help is hand. I’d seen it written on his sheet of notes. We surrounded the stage. It was more performance than lecture. I saw my friend H in the distance. She had been with me but had chosen to sit apart for the talk. I watched her as she settled herself in the chair. I was both above him and directly before him. Dream views can be like that. Not necessarily from just one direction. He prepared to start and instead of talking began behaving like a horse, a child’s version of horse where they smack their thighs as if it is a whip and start to gallop. Round and round he went, making horsey sounds. How funny dreams are, it made sense to me at the time. Of course, I thought, he is acting out a wild west movie where he is either waiting for the cavalry or he is the cavalry. I woke before any more was revealed. The phrase was nice, it cheered me a little for all its old fashioned-ness. Help is at hand.

She is a woman, apparently. Rumanian. He told me he’d seen her in town. She is just a body in sleep when I see her on the Prom, covered in blankets. She had a red suitcase, he said. I gave her two pounds and she took my hand. I will take her some food tomorrow and a pair of warm socks. I am moved. And my own winter-despairing is overshadowed. Good.

I am struggling. I lay on his bed in the afternoon taking a short rest while he listened to ‘Party’ once again. Whenever I turn to look at him he is invariably chuckling to himself. We both share a liking for returning to familiar things and places. Which is good. It feels like a tunnel. It feels like the clouds in the sky are bearing down on me. I fight to keep going, to keep things normal. I work, I cook, I even baked the second batch of mince pies. I will take her some tomorrow. But it is a Herculean effort. Is it the winter? Or is it something more ominous? I’ve work again today when I wanted to write. But I must do it. It funds this. It funds my way, though this month poorly.

The houses along North Road each had huge bedecked Christmas trees in their windows. At least the ones before the multi-occupant ones at the end did. Opulent trees, bursting with decoration. The house with the huge teddy bears in the windows was a mass of tinsel and gimcrack. OTT but delightful to pass in the dark and rain.

I’ve more notes to make before I can begin to write it. The coffee has been drunk time to start.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.