The starlings are here. I’ve seen them do their murmuration several times now. I hear them too, a humming chattering under the pier. And even this morning with all the din of the night club music pounding, they could still be heard. And smelt. That salty brackish smell of guano that gets into my nostrils, so much so that I try to hold the shut as I walk. It is too much. And yet it is life. Life in its richness. Don’t judge, neither pleasant or unpleasant. It just is. People put it on their gardens as manure. What a thing. How do they collect it?

They have put a red light on the war memorial. I’ve noticed it over the years, made red during the month of November. That’s nice, he said at breakfast. Yes, it’s a subtle tribute. A hundred years. How could they bear it, such hell. And me consumed with my little troubles. Ah, me.

I heard a boy retching as I walked down Great Darkgate Street. Another lay on the ground resting his head on his friend’s shoulder, his face covered in green lines. At first I thought it was blood. Had he been in a fight? No, it was make-up, the residue of yet another Halloween party. I heard fireworks last night. Did they keep you awake? he asked when I went in to rouse him. Briefly, I said. But I slept anyway, eventually. Nothing can stop the falling.

I saw my first lit Christmas tree on North Road as I headed towards the Prom, though there is one in a flat above the road that leads up to the back of Alexandra Hall. It does give me a fillip, those sparkles. The flat is clean. I shall sew and bake for the rest of the day. It’s all about trying to stand still, to pay attention, slowly.

The writing was hard yesterday, I was assailed with such feelings of stupidity. He is so kind, so generous. He bids me onward. Yes. Just finish it, he says. Yes. That is all I need to do. Write it. Write it out. Then wait and see what it becomes.

I walked with you this morning, holding your hand. You are a fiction, a memory. And then I was inside you. Me, my five-year-old self. I would’ve mothered you not better but kinder. It wasn’t her fault. It was all she knew. Rest in peace.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.