Runner Beans


I was ambitious, once. My ego still is. What is that about? All that need for acknowledgment. I want to shrug it off, like dead skin. To let loose its hold. It has nothing to offer me anymore. Not now.

People ask what I am working on at the moment. Is it kindness or are they really interested? I say that I am writing. I talk quietly, for I am not sure how to deliver it. I am writing but what it is to become I do not yet know. Does that matter? It is all nothing. All of it. And yet, it is something. Something that matters to me, at least. I like the process of work. I like to work. I like to be immersed, involved in story. Whether that story reaches beyond my studio matters less than it did. Truly. It is for me. It is me trying to make sense of what’s gone before.

I want peace. I want to accept the littleness of me. I have made many things, done many things but they have brought little peace. The peace is something else, from something else. The space between. So I withdraw. To watch.


Two evacuees. The remaining brother tells their story. Such cruelty. No one cared. His brother beaten to death. The Mousetrap. Agatha Christie took the story. Did he know? No. Was he moved? Of course. His voice catching as he describes the beating. He made us wait. What do we do with such knowing? I didn’t know how to be a father, he says, with his soft Newport lilt. I didn’t know how to love. We are so proud of him, says his daughter, we didn’t know. Now we do. Now we do. Bless you.


He returned, by popular demand, to talk about chapels. He talks with an excitable breathlessness. I like him. He makes me smile. His voice is high, boyish. They had forgotten him. He had to call to remind them. Well done, I said. Good for you. Thank you for the offer of a drink, he said brandishing a half empty bottle of water, but I’ve brought my own again.

This time she answered the phone. She sounds full of cold. It’s the children from the school, she said, my daughter brought it home. We talk about flu jabs, her friend’s fig tree and the weather. She took four figs from the tree. They were rock hard but I thought I would put them on the windowsill in the sun. We sometimes have them with what’s it called? Parva ham? It’s a bit of a treat. I went to the Thanksgiving festival at my church. The sermon was short but lovely, she says. I stayed for a cup of tea. I don’t like too cause of the cakes. I’m tempted, see. And I know I shouldn’t, what with the allergies. Trifle’s my favourite. Oh, they had a lovely one in Mark’s. Strawberry trifle. I couldn’t resist it. My daughter said I shouldn’t. Oh, it was lovely. It gave me pain after, mind.

She’s been sitting in the sun. And the garden? I ask. How’s the garden? Ah, she says, the runner beans are coming lovely.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.