On Reading (5)

I heard a scrabbling noise. I was striding down Great Darkgate Street on my way home from my morning walk. The noise, a kind of violent rustling, was coming from a short alley cut between The Card Factory and Poundsavers. Litter had spilled out onto the pavement. I lifted my feet over it. And then it came. I’d clearly spooked it. A bird. A seagull, running then flying across my path. I swore. And it screeched. The size of it. That great whiteness. They have the morning. Their screaming calls echo across the sky. They ransack the carefully bagged-up litter, pulling and ripping at the plastic. They scrap and holler. They are the cacophony of the seaside. And yet, so majestic in flight. That great soaring whiteness. Against the moon.

They were pushing him along the Perygyl. It looked proud, sitting there erect and aloof. A white dog, quite large, like a boxer with a  black-patched eye. He said something jocular to the owners. A man and a woman. Late middle-age. Serious in anoraks. It’s a special dog pushchair, I said to him, after they’d walked past. Can you believe it? I said. Surely the dog needs to walk? Later we saw them by the hut. Both of them fussing over the dog. He held the chair while she got him out. It was hopping. One of its  legs was missing. A young dog, a fit dog, with only three legs. It bounced unevenly alongside her, crossing the road to the stretch of lawn by the castle. We were silent. Shame-faced. They clearly loved it. Was it a him? And the dog seemed content, acquiescent, happy to return to its pushchair. Upright, supercilious even, self-contained in his hidden imperfection.

Why not choose joy?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.