Longest Day

On Reading installation - photo by Andy Chittock (right)

Today began beautifully, though cold. I went out without gloves, the first time this year. My fingers were so numb I couldn’t turn the key to get back in. There are clouds now, white shadows over the sun. Never mind. Let it be.

The longest day. The lightest day. I’ve loved the light. Out at 5.30 am and the day bright. Seeing all. Lovely. Just lovely.

We walk in the afternoons. Together. Slower than when I am alone but I don’t mind. I like the gentle strolling. I like our talks. We see the same people. The woman with the goitre. Do you think she will think me patronising, he asked after greeting her, for talking to her, do you think she’ll think I feel sorry for her? Does it matter? I ask. Isn’t it enough to acknowledge, make a connection with each other, whatever the reason? To be kind. Is it kindness? And the other woman on her mobility scooter, sitting on the jetty watching for dolphins. I saw three today, she says. In between her staring she writes postcards. A nice hand. Then there is Howie and his wife, striding along the prom, his big strides outstepping her little ones. And all those visitors in their camper vans that make him so cross. Spoiling the view for everyone else, he says. I don’t mind. I like passing them in the morning thinking about them being nice and cosy inside, some with their little dogs. Where do they pee? Or poo even?

Yesterday he placed some more of her ashes, on a rockery just up from the prom. I don’t know the name of the flowers, they are like sea anemones, like stars – spiky even. It was one of her favourite spots. He’d switch off the engine and she’d stare out to sea, her head barely over the dashboard. Can you see Aberdovey? Yes, lovely. Do you want a Marie biscuit? No, not now, love. I’m fine. Just fine. There is still more of her in the boot. He doesn’t want to let go of it all, just yet. Not just yet.

We took white gerberas to her grave on the anniversary of her death. Two years. Two mothers. Mine died June 28th 2012. So much has passed since then. Not on the outside but the inside. I am not the same. A transforming.


The other morning there was a cobweb, clinging in all its exquisite frailty and strength, to the jetty railing being blown by the wind.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.