It was still there when I walked past this morning on my way home. He’d picked it up off the pavement as we’d walked by on Monday afternoon and placed it on the low wall outside one of the terraced houses. Some little girl will be very sorry to have lost it. A piece of gimcrack, fake silver with paste diamonds. I would’ve loved it, worn it in the privacy of my own room, fantasising about princes and marriage and being saved as I did all those years ago.

I passed it again this morning up the path to work. Still there, like the tiara, though made sodden by the rain. Poor love. Is it a shrew or a mouse? He couldn’t say when I showed him the picture. Has she or he (who can tell) left behind a family, a nest of them waiting to be fed? It is all so chaotic. So beyond our control. And now he must lie there till he decomposes or until whatever it was that killed him decides to return. Raptors won’t take him now.

He was at his window when I returned from my walk. My heart always sinks when I see him there, the light behind him, putting him in shadow. Does he feel the same when he sees me climb the steps? We have to converse, it is expected. The rain held off, I see, he says. Yes, I reply, but it’s a bit breezy out there. Good for blowing off the cobwebs, eh? he replies. Yes, I say, definitely. Definitely. What else can I say? I cannot think. See you then. Cheers now, he replies. Is that enough? Was it sufficient? Did I offend? Och, it is so tricky. And I so want to remain in my bubble of silence and inner thoughts. It’s the same when I am out walking. I am rarely interrupted but sometimes it is inevitable. Like today. I saw them at a distance. Two figures looking lost. He looked like he was carrying a bag. They both swayed a little. I kept my distance. Excuse me, the woman called out, a generously built woman with a head of thick peroxided hair. Yes, I said. Where’s the back of The Glengower? she asked. Oh, I said trying to think, to picture it in my mind, it’s one of these. She sounded disappointed, Oh, OK, and returned her gaze to her phone. They were both standing in the middle of the road. It was not yet 3 am. Continuing my walk up the hill I came upon the sign and called out to them. It’s here. Hello, it’s here. Though how they intended to get in, who knows, the back door looked very firmly closed.

The best thing about having to go into work is the reading I do. I love this book. I lap it up, like cream. (I’ve used that metaphor before for books and reading but still.) She is such a well-observed character and I feel such an affinity for her. Do others feel the same when they read it? (I hope if they make a film of it, which they inevitably will, they will use an ordinary looking actress to play the part. None of those impossibly beautiful American stars made to look dull by simply wearing a pair of glasses and so-called ‘natural make-up’,  please). And relationship with ‘Mummy’ is harrowing.

I wrote it on the form. He saw me and was pleased. I usually write both. But for the meantime the one word is sufficient. Is it true? Is that what I am? Will I do the other again? I just want to get this written. It feels right to do so. Even though throughout each day I do sink with it. Negative thoughts play around inside my head – is it good, is it worthy of my time, should I be doing something more useful, less indulgent? I just don’t know. I just do what I think I need to do. To purge myself of her, but also to come to know her, to forgive and feel compassion. It is necessary. A therapy of sorts, clearly, though I cringe at it, at it’s hackneyed-ness. I want to be wiped clean. To order it. To sort it. And interesting things are coming up, things I have long forgotten. I want to be free of her. And not just of her but of the her I created, gave credence to. And in turn her too. All of them. I might be nothing at the end of it, have nothing more to say, for it has all been about her, really. If so, so be it. I will be lighter, smaller, ready to be peaceful. At rest. And he is so supportive, so continually kind and loving. How can anyone be so blessed as me? And I am not always as kind as I can be. Help me to be so. Please.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.