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They call it a thunderclap headache, she said.

I had to go up there five times yesterday. Five times. It was too much. The late one especially. And he looked so crestfallen at the end, his confidence punctured. So much so that at first I thought it might his wife that did it. But no, that would be ludicrous. A man in┬áhis position. But then, I thought perhaps it was another woman altogether. A lewd phrase followed by ‘I love you’ and a heart and a smiley face. Right across the window for all to see. Was she angry on his behalf? Maybe. I’d sensed some anger, some antagonism when she’d burst in. The men in suits staring, their banter temporarily ceased. I told him but no one else. He can keep a secret.

Five times and today I am knackered. I’ve tried to work. To write myself better. To write myself clean. Tiredness makes me ragged, even dirty. Unkempt. Nothing seems to come right. I write regardless. I am still forming. Forming my story. I’m moving forward, even if I had to return to it. Write the thousand words. Do as I say. The rain is heavy. The sky is a grey white, featureless. Rainy Saturdays. What are they good for? So many of them. He is sleeping off a cold. I don’t know how you managed without paracetamols, he says. His voice is thick, he speaks through his nose.

Aren’t your nails bright? I say to the waitress as she delivers┬áthe food to our table. They are a fluorescent yellow. I hate them, she says in a strong Liverpuddlian accent. The colour looked nice in the bottle. When I’m washing up I keep thinking they’re bits of sweetcorn. I hate them, she says. I’m getting rid of them this afternoon, thank god.

Three students in fancy dress walk past our car into town. Oh, God, he says, here we go. No doubt you’ll see them coming home in the morning. And I did. One was a tall male in a pink tutu and the other a girl in cat’s ears and whiskers, a tail dragging behind her. They were eating baguettes from the all night SPAR.

She looked tired, strained. The vein under her right eye was inflamed, blue. Sometimes we drive ourselves too hard. Five times in one day. Sometimes we just need to stop. And listen.

A man on the radio is reading from Vincent van Gogh’s letters. He taught himself to draw, to paint. His early work was poor, a woman is saying. He was so diligent, so determined. It took all his strength to keep going. No one wanted it, no one was interested, except Theo. No one believed in him. You need to feed the source. An artist date, Julia Cameron calls them. Do we all have something? Do we really all have something to offer? Sometimes the doing is enough. Doing without expectation of reward, acknowledgement or even completion. To be in the writing. To be in it.

I thought writing would be cleaner. That I wouldn’t feel, at times, so sullied by it. It isn’t true. It’s the same thing. It comes from the same source. You just have to work your way through it. Who makes us feel sullied? Whose voice is that?


I missed the ending. Did Lorna Doone die?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.