I could hear them behind me. I didn’t look round. Sometimes I don’t when I am walking in the wee wee hours of the morning. I feel vulnerable. Well, not all the time. Sometimes I am outside of myself, my body, intent on moving forward or lost in some outer experience of air, wind, rain and sea. Then encountering other people can be almost disorientating. I don’t want it. I don’t want to engage, to feel obliged, to go through the social rigmarole of being aware of how to be or how I should be. Other times I am just fearful. Of the dark of my fragility, my lack of power.

So I didn’t turn round. I just heard them. I was nearing home. They were behind me on Llanbadarn Road. And they were laughing. I think there were two of them. Men, I would say. Young men, students returning, perhaps. Their laughter was loud, raucous, almost maniac. Maniacal like hyenas. They were close. There was a chaos to their merriment, something had been let loose. The sound echoed down the road, bouncing off the terraced houses. They couldn’t speak, just this guffawing, this explosion of glee.

It is natural for me to serve. Not to be subservient, but to attend, to care, to prepare, to make order on others’ behalf.

It’s not what you do everyday but the thoughts you live with.‘ I heard this quote on the radio this morning. It was from a novel called Reef. I cannot remember the author.

My love affair with the radio continues. Documentary maker Cathy Fitzgerald talking on Telling Tales late yesterday morning about how she centres herself before an interview. ‘I feel my feet on the ground, smell the air around me…..’ I paraphrase her, but it was about being present, really present ready to engage fully in another person and their life. I know this. I know this way of being. It is deeply immersive, almost intrusive sometimes. I fall in love with my interviewees, she said.

I didn’t write yesterday. I just read it. I needed to do it. It needs a lot of work, it is still a jumble but not yet. Write it out first. It is a juggernaut. A massive task. More reading today. Write at the weekend. When I am ready to begin again.

Some of the gloom has lifted but I still look for the signs, it may come. Will I be stronger then?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.