Walking in the road

I shouldn’t do it. It feels naughty. It breaks the rules. I think it has something to do with when I fell. I prefer the flat, and it has been recently tarmacked. The pavement is all higgedly-piggedly. Awry. A patchwork of paving slabs, manhole covers, gravel and tar. The road is even, trusty. In the dark I walk in the road.

It was a good day yesterday. Two discussions, one in Café Nero and the other at the hotel in Aberdovey. I taped them both, wanting to capture every nuance. Mostly of what I said, to be fair, I need to hear my sensibility, my truth. Though much of what he said also surprised me. I trust you, he said. I trust that when you are your studio you know what you are doing. I trust you. It felt good to hear. There was a woman in the hotel lounge doing The Times crossword when we arrived. The seats in the window were free. I hesitated. She was sitting on the sofa right next to them. I cleared my throat. Would you mind? I asked. Were going to be doing an interview, would it disturb you if we sat here? No, she said, looking up. Not at all, we’re leaving soon any how. Don’t be silly. An afterthought, tagged on on the end of her sentence. Don’t be silly. An adult talking to a child. She looked discombobulated after she said it. Uncertain. When I told him of it, in whispers, he said, what did you say? Nothing, I said. Nothing. Don’t be silly. She used to say it. Often.

The sun poured in through the window, warming me. We drank tea. Lapsang Souchong. I complained about the size of the teapot. Can we have a large one? I asked the waiter. Saying nothing he turned on his heel and left the room. Returning with a larger one, he said, that’s the size of pot we’re told to use. Regulation. I tried to appease, to ameliorate the situation. It’s my fault, I’m demanding. I like it just so. I look forward to it. I want lots. I want it to last and last. He thawed, asked about the tea. I’ve never had it, he said. It smells smoky. It is smoky, I said. I’ll try it sometime, he said, leaving us to it. I drank to much. It makes me a little high. Gobby, he says. No, more, he said, you’ll get too gobby.

Later, I couldn’t sleep. I lay there between worlds. A voice in-between what he calls jumbly thoughts. A voice, clear and strong saying my name. Ellen, it said, there is no planet. Simple. A statement of fact. There is no planet. Calm, even reassuring. There is no planet. What to make of it. And then the dreams that followed. In my mother and stepfather’s house (though not one that I recognise) trying to shut an array of curtains and blinds, trying to keep someone out. Someone I knew, someone who always brings chaos. I fretted over the workings of the blinds, they were complicated, was I getting it right? And then the other dream about Italy, a landlady renting out rooms to tourists. An AirB&B perhaps? She was found guilty of feeding them tadpoles.

So much milder this morning. Lots of kids out. Two girls, bare-legged in mini-skirts eating pizza from boxes. A man in a tigger suit and another walking down Great Darkgate Street in a romper suit. Before then a man in a dress talking to a girl.

I think it was joy as well as the tea that kept me from sleep. Our discussion made me value myself. So much work I want to do. It was glorious to talk about it. To make plans. He gives it time, he bears witness to it. To me. I am eternally grateful. I am blessed.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.