Yet more dreams of tables. A round one this time, in a restaurant and encircled with strangers, men and women in suits. They do not smile at my arrival. Do I say something? Do I whisper my reluctance to join them? For join them I must. Young women in business attire. My cousin is sitting next to me. He is playing some sort of golf game. I ask about his son, is he really living in Barbados now? Then I begin to play the same game. It involves pushing this tiny pea-size ball through gaps and holes while keeping it in a 2D frame. Rather like a hand-held pin-ball machine. I become absolutely entranced by it. I am doing it better than my cousin. I am calm, in control.

Did I say that I looked up dream meanings and that tables were supposed to be about conferences and family discussions?

I have had enough of thinking about it. Having those conversations with her in my head. She is a good person, I know this. But we are so different. I do not understand her, try as I might. Is it important to understand? Is compassion, a willingness to stand in her shoes, bear witness to her life, enough? I cannot know. I flail. I have flailed about. My vanity got in the way. I thought I could bring reason, sense, calmness to the table. I could not. I couldn’t even get to the table. I wanted to make it all right for every body. But mostly for myself. I want to be at peace with them all, the way that I wasn’t with her. Could never be, for she wasn’t a peaceful person. She didn’t engender peace. But it is gone. A different country.

Everything gets shaken up. I am rattled by it. It impacts my work, my way of seeing things. It sucks the little joy that there is these days.

I stood on the shelf and stuck my head out of the skylight. That was joy, for that moment, I smelt freedom, like a dog’s first nose-full of air after a night of being kennel-cooped. Delicious. Morning air with the sun on my face. Yes. Joy. I can still feel it. I closed my eyes and let the sun seep through my skin. And then later, he’d said yes, we went to our seat, in front of the sea and in the sun. The first time this year. I was still agitated, a back full of her. But I closed my eyes and let the sun soak through me. Fifteen minutes of sitting, the cars rolling by and him beside me.

When I woke this morning the flat had still remembered the sun’s warmth.

I will write today. I want to sew but balls need to be kept moving. All of them. And I want to complete my book this year. The first draft at least. It’s unfinished-ness weighs on me. I want to know that I can do it. Form it, hone it. I am trawling through, trying to instil some sort of order. Order the chaos. Is that not what I try to do all the time? An impossible task.

Flickering lights. The one in the hallway across from us, the bulb downstairs as we come in the front door and a neighbours tree wrapped round with Xmas lights. All flickering. Not clear. About to go black. To go out. I often dream my torch doesn’t come on. What am I not seeing? Show me how to be kind, to weigh my words, to know what I am really saying. She knew.

I’ll play, the student was shouting, his words slurring, his gestures loose. I’ll play. I’ll play ball.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.