Who rattled your cage?

I don’t know. It was a culmination of things. Of doing an early paper shift that went awry, of having to manage being in the studio with colleagues who I find challenging, of being tired, of wanting him all to myself, of just being rattled. I was rattled and not in a fit state to relax and engender peace. I should’ve stayed at home but a before-hand coffee seemed so attractive. I needed a fillip as I often do after doing the paper review slot. But they kept coming. One after another to chat to him. One even settled down on the arm of the sofa. I’ve got myself some porridge, she said with her mouth full of it. She’d covered the top of it in brown sugar just like I used to do as child. She left only to return almost immediately with a piece of till paper. Are you going into town? she asked him. Could you put a bet on for us? I need forty people to do a sweepstake. She had only four. Names of horses, people and price of bet. OK? I don’t want to do it, he said to me, after she’d gone, it’s a pain in the arse. But he’ll do it anyway. Boy scout, see. Anything to please. They’re nice girls, he said. And they are. They look after him. I like their chat, mostly, just not yesterday. Not then.

We were like skittles. One after another. Down, down, down. I started crying almost immediately. Why? Then the woman next to me started, then the one across. A group of grief. A pool of grief. She did her best to manage it, rapidly changing her plans. I think we should move, she said, eventually. I didn’t want to but she was right. It was necessary. We laughed in the end. And the touch of her hands were warm. I felt such empathy for her, for all of them. We’re too close to the water. I certainly am. I even felt anger towards her at being the instigator of such an outpouring. And yet, she was innocent. A good woman. Kind.

I wanted to feel better. I thought that by sharing my joy, my precious idea with him, I would. He didn’t react as I’d expected. The strict parent, he wanted it to be watertight. Straight off. It hurt. It wasn’t his fault. I was rattled. It was only later that I understood.


Eyes puffy I walked in a haze this morning. Beautiful. It was beautiful. The tide was far out. The air was mild, gentle. Hardly anyone about. Just a smattering of kids. I stared out to sea and did the three point breathing space. It helped. This is joy, I thought. This nothingness, no horizon, no Aberdovey, no Aberaeron. Just nothingness and this breath.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.