Just around the corner

They’re saying that Spring is just around the corner, he said at breakfast this morning, reading from The Times. Apparently it’s early this year, he continued, four months early. They always say that, I replied. No, he said, it’s here. It’s something to do with hazel catkins being spotted in October when they are meant to come in March. It is uncommonly warm. And as a consequence it doesn’t feel much like Christmas. I’m not complaining, even when I go out with too many clothes on, I love this mildness. The cold bites at my bones.

I felt low yesterday. I haven’t cried like that for a long time. It was good to get it out but a feeling something like shame always follows such an outpouring. Where does that come from? A house where there was only room for one person’s emotion, perhaps? Not her fault. She hadn’t been listened to, paid heed too enough. Cancelled out for too long. She thought that we would make up the deficit. Impossible. I’m sorry. I was so high a couple of days before. So in love with belonging, being part of something warm. And then this great falling. So gloomy. I got everything done. I did what I wanted myself to do, and then I just wanted to sleep, to disappear into the nothingness. He is kind. I snap and snarl when he tries to help. My skin is sharp, prickly with prickles. I want to empty myself out, to clean myself of all residue of rancour. To be white through and through. And at peace. That is it. Above all else. All I want for Christmas is that. And yet, I know I have it already. We all do. If only we could see and value it.

Town was quiet this morning as a walked. A man stood on a corner along Llanbadarn Road. I couldn’t make out what he was doing. Was he peeing? He was definitely swaying, and then he turned full circle and began walking the other way. His movements were exaggerated, his steps too big. He was drunk, clearly. He walked towards me, and I saw his eyes were half closed. Is it nice to be so inebriated? Outside the Pier Pressure nightclub, two men and a woman were rowing. As least, one of the men was trying to drag the woman out of the way. She had scarlet coloured hair and tight army fatigue trousers. What did he say? she was shouting at one of the men. The one who’d tried to drag her away started kicking at a bin. I swear to God, he was shouting. The other man, his face hard against hers said: He said Dennis was a cunt.

Stopping for a couple of minutes at the top of the little hill overlooking Cae Melin and down onto Llanbadarn Road, I listened to a blue tit. For such a tiny bird, its song is so resonant. A kind of spit, spit sound. Sharp, almost rasping, it echoes through the night to be met with the softer call of a blackbird.

Our neighbour was at his window smoking both when I left and when I returned an hour or so earlier. Initially he seemed reluctant to talk. I understand that. But knowing, or at least sensing, this makes me awkward and I come out with inane questions. The second time he was a little more forthcoming, telling me how he’d been staring at one of the security lamps. It’s broken, I said, it keeps going on and off. No, I don’t think so, he said, there’s a kind of strange pattern. I’ve been timing it. He strikes me as content with his lot. An inscrutable man, I think.

A gentle day day today. Carols and lights. It is enough.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.