He was ahead of me. He had a dog on a lead. It’s amazing how many people I have seen walking dogs in the wee small hours of the morning. He was young, a student perhaps. His gait was awkward, a little gawky. I followed behind him as he and then I joined the Prom. The dog was young too, just over puppyhood and it pulled at the lead. A little nervous, jumpy. The man took out an electric cigarette. At least, I couldn’t see him do so but suddenly there was this great cloud of smoke. And I’d smelt something sweet in his wake. It smelt of pipe tobacco and warm boiled sweets. The smoke hung in the air, barely moving. The air was not cold, almost balmy and wet and heavy. Autumnal. The smoke was beautiful, hanging there. A halo, a fog of white.

I peered into the Christmas Room again as I passed by. There are decorations all over the mantlepiece too. Though I’ve never seen anyone in there. It is an invitation to partake of seasonal cheer. Waiting. Waiting for its guests.

I am like a dog with a bone, I know. I can’t leave things alone, things that go unresolved. I worry away at them. And she is so different to me. She has her own way. A learnt way, of putting off, of not dealing with now. I need to be more compassionate, more understanding of other ways of looking.

She prompted me to read it. Rachel Cusk’s essay about Celia Paul and Cecily Brown. Powerful. Full of my own struggles. There is no resolution there either. Should we be what we are or try to be like others? That eternal question. And the other? Who exactly are we?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.