Lights on

There were a mass of gulls on the shore as I walked this morning. Was it my thrown shadow on the sand that made them move?Taking flight like a whirl of wind blown ashes, their whiteness temporarily lost in in the blackness only to be found again as they turned. What disturbed them? They call and screech and then are quieted. They move and chatter as one. Held together for safety, for comfort. Do they also dread the winter? I heard the lone call of an oystercatcher. Does it too feel dread? Do they fear the cold, the lack of food? Or do they just accept the day as it is unfolds, making no judgement?

There are always houselights on as I walk, even at that hour. They tend to be upper windows, attic windows. Students working? Or are they insomniacs? Or early birds like me? Though I don’t find it easy at this time of the year. The blackness is like a tunnel. I feel myself being sucked into it as I wake. I have to pull myself up, by the boot straps, as my mother used to say. Come on, I say, there’s work to do. And there is, always. I like to see the lights. I like to feel that there are others awake. Going out into the blackness is never as bad as I fear. It is best, always to meet one’s fear, go to it, be in it. It can be managed then. I was fearful of work yesterday. On a Sunday too. Working the newsroom camera always makes me nervous. It feels too important. Make it wider, she said. I don’t know what she means, I said to him. I did it in the end. It’s the not knowing, not understanding. That’s all. Fear of making a fool of myself, of being gauche, awkward, cack-handed.

There was a chicken bone on the floor. I found it when I got back. Where’d it come from? We don’t eat chicken. Had it come from a bag? A second-hand plastic bag? It made me feel a little queasy. I am out of practice with handling dead stuff. Poor lamb. Poor pet.

ODG are advertising their Open for next year. I think about entering my Proust piece and ponder about the how to do it. Should I make a video of me sewing it? Or should I just put forward the piece, unfinished, a work about reading, intense reading. I try to keep it light, see the possibility for testing, for gauging the outside world’s reaction. That’s all. Keep it light. It’s a good forum to try, it is kind. They may not go for it. If so nothing is lost. Ever.

I thought of him as I walked. We have been together twenty years now. Nineteen years married, on and off. He’s been a constant in my life. He has borne witness to it all, so kindly, so selflessly, so wisely. He is my wise counsel, my love. My love.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.