David Cassidy’s died. He came in to tell me. That beautiful man. I was enchanted by him as a child. Too beautiful for me. Too beautiful. Rest in peace.

The fair has gone. There was no sign of it when I looked down the road this morning. A wind-blown emptiness. All gone. Packed up and moved on.

I’m locked out. You’ve locked me out, a girl was shouting as she bashed on the door. I turned the corner and saw her, just before her friend caught up with her. The door opened and a yellow light welcomed them in. Breathe. All is well.

I dreamt of Mum. I’d taken her to my sister. An estranged relationship that I’d wanted to help mend. Mum was young, younger that she was when she died. She was chatty, open. I’d taken her Sweden. I listened to her talking Norwegian. I didn’t understand what she was saying but I knew all the same. She was happy. I could always tell for I was safe then, at peace. I’d taken her, that was the thing. It was my gift. My gift to my sister.

Earlier, another dream. I try to sleep in the afternoons. I’d never have done so as a younger woman, but I need it now. I rise so early, I need that brief shut-eye and it helps the gloom that descends these days. These winter days. Just as I fell to sleep a short dream, more a vision. A child, a toddler, barely-walking. I was watching this child from above. I remember a romper suit, a dotted, black and white one. It was trying to walk. There were three adult figures ahead. I saw them as a child does, focusing on their legs. The tot was trying to catch them up but stumbled, falling flat. The ground was soft, it was grass. There was no damage no pain except that of being left behind, of not being able to catch up and of being forgotten.

The birds massed on the shore again this morning. Terns and seagulls were there, each with their own allotted space. Some were on the Prom too, scavenging. Scavenging after the students. A bin had been emptied of its rubbish. They squawked and screamed. Pizza boxes, plastic bags, food containers were buffeted about. On the shore the birds stood as if in vigil. Waiting. Waiting for what?

Most days I am a coiled wire. Too tight. I snap and snarl at him. I try not to but I need the release. I cried yesterday. Bursting with it. What is it? What is it? I don’t know. I did the trundling yesterday, I thought I’d be safe. But I’d made mistakes, miscounted the pattern, and then my mind begins its carping. I’m beaten down by it. He comes up to help. Let’s talk it through. But I don’t want to. I want it gone. I’m tired of the same narrative, over and over. Pull back. Breathe. Detach oneself and see it from above, on high, from afar. You did what you set out to do, nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing to judge. You are just completing something, preparing the material for the performance. It doesn’t merit all this drama. I think about why I am obsessed with such a way of working. Is it it’s simplicity? What do I want to discover? I think about interviewing her, it’s her life I want to find out about. I imagine it unfettered, uncomplicated and the cross-stitch and the knitting is a symbol of that. Time, leisure, solitude, neatness, ordered, an ordered, managed kind of creativity without the fear of failure, of being shown up as fraudulent. Is that it? Is that what this is about? Interesting.

And then I fussed and fretted over what to do when I visit the home. I’m meeting the volunteer coordinator tomorrow. What will I sew? What do I want to sew or write? What will I be able to achieve? I think about Vita Sackville West’s All Passion Spent. But is that too obvious? I want the words, the text to tell the story. Or maybe poetry? Something succinct, delicate, like the Emily Dickinson envelopes. And then I went upstairs to do yoga and a play was on the radio. Tony and Rose by Nicola Baldwin. I came to it one third in. I waited for a happy ending, there was none. A son returning to England having left home at seventeen to take care of his dementing mother. All boundaries lost. All safety gone. He enters her hell and vice versa. Can what I do make a difference? Even for a moment? I used to ask the same of myself when I went to see him. He didn’t know me but responded, I think, to my touch. A tactile man, he liked to be touched. Loved. Don’t we all?

I just don’t know. I don’t know so many things. And soon the writing will be here. I am at times utterly floored by it, though I have sought it, generated it. Can I just yield? Let myself fall into it. I could never do that. Let myself fall. I’ll catch you, they’d say. You won’t fall. You won’t. I promise.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.