To the quick

Cut to the quick. I cut my nails to the quick. The quick and the dead. Quick, meaning alive. Quick in motion. Feeling, sentient beings. I cut my nails to the quick these days. I used to grow them long. I remember at boarding school, such talons. My pride and joy. Brittle, easy to break but they shone. I remember later a boss at the theatre. Hers were inches long. What can you do? Barbara Streisand grew them so she couldn’t type. It’s like not wearing heels so that I can run. My fingers need to work, to move across the keyboard, to sew, to make, to cook, to wash, to do, to be. Cut. Quick. To be quick. Be quick. I’m coming. Rushing. Rushing to fit everything in.

A beautiful morning, crisp and even. The cleaner from Birmingham telling him it’s fresh. They’re all talking about seeing the gritter in town. I saw him. Ahead of him was the sports car, whizzing about 40 miles an hour down Great Darkgate Street. So tired this morning, and waking with the name Sophie in my head. And my alarm going off in the middle of the night. The wind was a gale, so much so I had to shut the window. The hyacinth perfumes my room like night-scented stock. A quick one. Cut to the quick. Cut to the chase. I’m a little nervous. Will it be alright today?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.