Lifeguards’ Hut

That’s a sign of the end of summer if there ever is one, I said to him at breakfast, the Lifeguards’ hut has been packed away. What? he asked, looking up from the paper. What is a sign of the end of summer?

He says I mumble. Maybe I do, but it isn’t just me. His hearing is getting worse. We laugh about it. Quarter to two, he says, mimicking an elderly lady he used to know. Deaf as a post, she’d offer up time checks as a way of filling in the gaps of non-hearing. He gets by, tries to make sense of what is being said. What? he says rather too sharply. I want to say, can’t you say pardon? It is ingrained in me, that outward showing of politeness and ‘what’ is so sharp.

The box for the hut is still there on the Prom. All neatly packed away. White and shiny.

They don’t half drink. A girl called out to me along North Road. She was walking, her arm draped in that of her boyfriend’s and wore just a vest top. Hellooooo, she said to me, her head lolling like a rag doll’s. Then stumbling off the pavement she lurched at me, You OK? she asked. Yes, I’m fine, thank you, I replied. I don’t want to talk when I walk. I don’t want to puncture my role as observer. On the Prom a huddle of tall lads were talking. One was shouting above the rest delivering his little speech in an Australian accent. Alright you fucking cunt, he said, you’re asking for it. No? Then his voice changed and his friends laughed. A girl in a thin shorts one-piece, twirled and swirled like a leaf caught in the wind. Her phone was lit and held fast against her ear. She was silent, concentrating, or so it seemed to me, on trying to move herself forward.

I looked for the moon. It was tiny.

Off to review an exhibition later today. We like the drive.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.