Lights on

I wake very early and when I wander about the flat and look out into the darkness I see other windows, across the complex and beyond into town, also alight like mine. There is the Asian girl in number one, her lights are on through the night, never during the day. Is she still keeping Chinese time? I think of her all alone in a strange country (I imagine her as a student coming here to study and having to do it all online) and how unfamiliar it must be for her. And the lad who works in the cycle shop whose girlfriend is a nurse (I watched him from my studio as I worked as he painted his outside wall), his bedroom light was on when I woke. As was the other lad, still at school, the one who smokes out of his window, his too was on. What has woken them? Or are they still awake? The other smoker, the one who used to hold seminars in the car park, is frequently awake in the early hours too. His night time light of choice is green. I like to think of these fellow ‘awakers’ – it gives me solace.

A man was walking around the harbour when I arrived this morning. I didn’t like it. It doesn’t feel safe. I walked quickly away in the other direction. A gentle breeze they promised this morning. They were wrong and I swore as my umbrella blew inside out yet again. And then there was a runner. I thought it might be OS but this one was was heavier in build and in foot.

A student (most probably) has decorated their windowsill in a house along Llanbadarn Road in readiness for Halloween. There are fake pumpkins, leaves and an odd little figure that I could place. Others have plastic cobwebs fixed to their windows and the occasional skeleton.

I noticed small details as I walked, some mornings it is like that. A tiny gnat was flying about in the window of the cycle shop, in thrall to the light fixed on the the display bike. A gust of wind caught at some leaves and they rattled down the main causeway sounding more like a clattering of cans. I smelled a cigarette. It seemed stale, old. Had someone walked past smoking? No, it was a Chinese girl crouched in a doorway in her pyjamas and an anorak on the phone and smoking. She stood up as I walked by.

I wrote. I made a start. It is enough that.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.