The council gardeners have planted petunias in the raised beds along South Marine. The beds have been empty for so long. It gave me a fillip this morning. Pink petunias and what looks like Marigolds. Marigolds were everywhere in my youth, that and nasturtiums. They put nasturtiums in the salad bags we buy from the health food shop on Calybeate Street. I like to see them there. Ah, the petunias, such a frippery kind of flower, unabashed femininity, lovely. A head poked out from beneath wall as I walked past. It gave me such a shock. Two lads sitting on the beach stones, just below the pavement. One head jerking up to see who was coming. Just me. A head with a moustache.

Earlier, a girl had come running towards me along North Road. She was running wildly, wearing tight black shorts, her hair flying behind her. Everything can appear super-real at that time in the morning. Speeded-up somehow, alarming even. I catch my breath. There is a man pursuing her. He is carrying a food carton. Are they together? Is she running from him or running with him? He runs out into the road, breathless. They pass me. A race? Hurrying to get home before the curfew? Who knows?

No walk on the Perygyl this morning, it was too wet. They’d promised thundershowers and lightning. No thunder, no lightning, just a flicker of the lights as I ironed. The air is close, muggy. I took an umbrella but didn’t need it. He was concerned. You will be careful, won’t you? he begged. No umbrellas. Promise? I defied him. I will be fine. What a way to go, eh? There’s something biblical about being taken by lightning.

Still loads of kids outside the Why Not? Most of the girls in shorts or tight mini shirts. I saw a group of students along the Prom wet from swimming. A dare, a forfeit? Cold.

I am being followed by Scottish voices. Well, not followed but surrounded. On the radio, mostly. Can I admit to loving it? That rolling, warm, rich sound, and all the ‘hens’ and so on. I feel wrapped up by it, the sound. The last was a play about a whisky distillery on Ailsa. It sounded so beautiful. I crave that isolation. Well, a deep part of me does. Another part knows what it would do to me. But I have this longing to be up there, high, high above this island. But the dark, the cold, the wind would be a challenge. I know this and yet, I yearn. Crazy, isn’t it?

I’m just following the lines. That is all I’m doing. If you don’t know what to do just do that. It is enough. I sew, I write, I do all those bits, those ten thousand things kind of bits. Just following the lines till something feels right. Perhaps it never will. Perhaps this is the sum total, those lines. I notice the ageing of my face. I catch it in the wing mirror of the car, in the photos he takes of me. I am old. I am fifty-five. My head is young my face, my body, old. Do I mind? No, not at all. It is all vanity and I was never a beauty. I haven’t anything to lose, I never had. That’s good, isn’t it?

I shall write today. I try to give one day a week to it. My story, my book. Will it ever be concluded? Made into a whole? I like being in it, mostly. Am I getting better? What is that? Just tell it. Just tell it as it is.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.