Leopard-skin Coat

There are more and more people about as I walk in the mornings. They are students mainly. One lad was drunk and lurching, his head staring down at his red trainers. Then, all of sudden he looked up as if waking from a stupor and whirled about uncertain where he was or where he was going. He shook himself out of it and kept walking. Another three were coming up the steps from the beach onto the Prom as I neared. They’d been swimming. There was a girl, her black swimming costume exposed under a fake leopard-skin fur coat. Her feet were bare. She was tiny. The other two were lads, one with a towel wrapped around his middle. She seemed to be in charge. A pretty girl, pretending to be a film star no doubt as I used to do when I was her age, though I didn’t have her nerve. I watched as she picked her tiny feet over the pebbles on the pavement and thought of that night I drove to a beach with that kind, gentle boy and we sat and looked at the sky. I remembered his name when I got home and how he liked the songs of Joni Mitchell.

Odin, Lillian, Perseverance, Miss You and Phrygos are all out of the water and on stilts down by the harbour ready for their repairs.

I dreamt of boats, liners to be specific. Someone had invited me to join their party on a cruise. Lots of people. And we were mostly inside. When I docked I walked a little with another friend. I saw some clear, icy water and dived into it. Now you are all wet, she said. Then she said, I must go home. And I felt a pang. Back on board there were three women sitting in one of the cafes. Oh, good, one of them said I can now order some Beef Stroganoff. At another point in the dream I was in a cinema. The lights were up and it was full. Everybody was eating ice creams and flapjacks spilling crumbs everywhere. I was the only one not eating, clutching my ribs and wearing black. Then later I was talking to her and I couldn’t remember her name. The loss of it hurt me.

It was OK. She was happy. It is enough to have it so.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.