The Whole Works

I woke from a dream at about 12 pm needing a pee. When I returned to my bed I tried to commit it to memory. He and I were in a garage waiting. Waiting for our car to be serviced, waiting for to buy a new car, who knows? He was doing his usual thing. He knew everyone and was buzzing around chatting and passing the time of day. I began to get irritated, feeling left out and abandoned. He came back to me at some point and when I remonstrated about him spending so much time talking to one of the girls in the office, he said, she’s not middle class like you, meaning she had problems that I didn’t have and required his help. I understood and celebrated his kindness even though I was cross. However, knowing I had a teacher training course to attend in Oxford I left without him, after looking everywhere for my bag. I found it and started to walk. I walked out into a sunny day up and hill relishing the idea of going off on my journey on my own. There was a signpost which I read that said ‘The Cliffs’. I understood it to mean a neighbourhood rather than literally ‘cliffs’. The path through the grass reminded me of those in Cambridge that divide up Christ’s Pieces. That’s when I woke. Then when I returned to sleep I was with him in the garage once more.

Have you ever done that? Returned to a dream you’d woken from? I can’t remember ever having done so. This time it was the beginning of the working day. People were arriving at their desks. Most rather grumpy. I tried to make a joke and asked one of the lads if he could cut my hair too? (In the dream this made sense to me, though he looked rather quizzical.) Then I heard a woman talking in a back office. I think she was on the phone ordering some dried blueberries. She wanted some dried blueberries from Edinburgh for her wedding dress. She eventually came and joined us in the waiting room holding a punnet of berries. She was still talking about her dress, how it was to have other fruit ornamentation and a fox draped across it.

Telling him my dreams makes him laugh. Where’s the symbolism in that? he taunts. Come on, come on, eh, eh? I like to make him laugh. It’s good for me too. Too tense yesterday. So much so that it has brought back the rash on my wrists. Angry wheals. It will pass, it always does, he says. I just need to face it, sit down with it and write it. Soon. Just offload first. It’s good to do. It makes writing less high falutin’.

Relentless rain this morning. I borrowed his coat. I felt cocooned, oblivious to all around me. Which is a little unsettling, especially when crossing the road. I couldn’t judge the speed of the train of taxi shooting past in the wet. (I saw a woman walking towards me along Llanbadarn Road, as she neared I could see that it was one of my colleagues from work. She didn’t know me, swathed as I was in his coat, so I let her walk by. So late. Had she been on their Christmas party and stayed out? ) I walked past Bodalwyn House’s decorated window, I saw stars and Christmas trees this time.

A lad crashes out of The Pier Pressure nightclub, falling and stumbling. Several people laugh. In response he kicks out at some barriers. He just keeps kicking and kicking. Maniacal behaviour. My hackles raise and I walk quicker. It is all speeded up. A girl running barefoot in the rain, a man calling after her and running too. Another hunched over a bench. The stick of starling guano. A brackish, salty metallic stench in the rain. Cold rain. On and on, soaking me. Pitter, patter on my hood.

Yesterday, after the rain and sleet that lashed our windows a strange light. A sky that turned the roofs of the houses beneath Cae Melin a steely blue.

Our neighbour was at his window when I returned, enjoying his last fag before bed. I see him as I walk up the stairs, the yellow of his bedroom light spilling out in the gloom. Sometimes I don’t want to speak but today I stopped. I didn’t think you’d be out in this, he said. Who is the more eccentric? I wonder. Me for my early morning walks or him for his late nights spent betting on his computer. At least that is what he thinks he does. We don’t know. I like him. A bright, rather reserved, man. A retired Science teacher, who’s travelled the world working, China, Austria and who now lives and cares for his ninety-three year old mother. He’s just been away holidaying in Gran Canaria. Was there sun? I asked enviously. Yes, he said, lots of it. We talk of Christmas. We do very little, I say. And you? His daughter and grandchild will join him and his mother. Will you cook? I ask. Yes, he says. Turkey and bread sauce and so on. The whole works, he said. The whole works.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.