The wind was not as strong as they promised, though it was still an effort to walk into it. I wore too many clothes and got hot. Tomorrow I will wear less. The path down to the main road is strewn with beech nuts. They crunch under my walking boots. A man was staring into the window of Andy’s Records shop on Northgate Street. As I got closer I could see he was looking at a particular CD that was on display. He was talking to himself, quite animatedly. It had just gone 3.30 am. I always want to ask the people I see walking the streets at the time that I do, what are you doing up at this hour? never stopping to realise that I am worthy of the same curiosity.

The wanted to do the whole shebang. Weight, height, blood pressure and ECG. Ugh, I hadn’t expected that. I thought it would just be a chat. They don’t make a meal of it in hospital. Just in and out, no soft pillow under the arm. It threw me. And then we went in and she was lovely. A Czech. A gentle woman who was respectful of me and my body. She couldn’t find anything wrong with my heart, it beats a little fast, at least it did when they did the Echogram. Now she thinks it might be something to do with protein in the blood, or lack of it. We shall see. Letters have to be typed first. Protocol followed. I felt embarrassed. I was, am well compared to those who sat in the waiting room, well alcove, with me. Several old ladies, one with greatly swollen ankles that have clearly been forced into tiny t-bar patent leather shoes. Another old lady was so thin, her bony legs, encased in loose fitting American tan tights, jutting at odd angles from the wheelchair. Both were with what looked like daughters. They, looking equally tired, perhaps more so. The rest had clearly come for the fracture clinic and sat there, their ankles and legs strapped up. He was patient with me. Held my hand throughout. I find it difficult. I struggle to yield.

They covered the rock. The tide was coming in. Hundreds of white birds. A flock. Amassing. Their faces all turned towards the south. What were they waiting for? And not a sound.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.