I had it in my head that a brisk morning stroll through the seaside town of Bangor was an excellent idea. What else was a morning person to do before her twelve companions finally rose from the dead? And what better time to indulge in writerly pensiveness, out alone in a foreign city before the world awakes? It sounded so aesthetic.
But when I stepped out the front door, Moleskin in one hand, umbrella in the other, I recognized the dull morning drear. It was raining, and beginning to rain harder. Perhaps a walk could wait until the sun chased away the haze.
Turning back, I knelt and removed the loose brick along the walkway, where the key should have lain, but I found only leaves and soil. How inconvenient.
I returned to the front door and knocked. The house was silent. I knocked again and waited. My companions were all still asleep, surely. I knocked harder.
I was very aware of the cold. I hadn’t even made my morning tea before I walked outside. They’d taken it to the other house. Just another inconvenience of travelling with twelve other artists—no one ever knew where anything was located.
When I banged the knocker and still heard no movement, I shoved my hand through the letterbox, pried it open, peered through at the still staircase, hoping to see a figure appear at any moment on the landing. Nothing. I debated whether or not to shout into the house. Somehow, that seemed inappropriate.
Fine then, I thought. I’ll go for a walk anyway.
What else could I do? Clearly this morning stroll was dictated by fate. Besides, maybe someone might be awake by the time I got back.
I set off along the tarmac that wound along the shore, passing rows of silent, pastel apartments beside the gray sea, listening to the white noise of rain and wind and waves battering the rocks.
I wasn’t that cold. The men’s waistcoat I bought at the market the previous day was surprisingly sturdy, and it shielded my torso from the worst of the wind. I looked like a proper English gentlemen. I could work with this.
I just needed to ignore my hands. The fingers curling around my umbrella were like frozen sausage links.
Then there were my feet, of course. I curled my toes against the seeping moisture. My socks grew soggier by the minute.
The moleskin was damp as well. I hoped the water didn’t seep into the pages. No need to make my bad poetry and existential musing even blurrier than they already were.
I wanted to write something, but I didn’t have anything profound to say. Perhaps I could write about man against the elements, setting out into the harshness of nature, facing the cold, unfeeling universe, but I doubted a naturalistic interpretation of a light drizzle would make for particularly interesting literature.
My feet grew chillier. I accidentally stepped in a puddle, and the water stung.
At that point, I decided fate had kicked me out of the house for long enough.
I turned around. It really wasn’t so bad. Just a bit chilly and damp, I told myself. Not enough discomfort to damage the situation’s writerly aesthetic. Too bad no profound inspiration came with it.
When I tripped up the steps and knocked on the door again, there was still no reply, and for a terrible moment, when silence reigned in the house, I thought I was still locked out. Then the dark stairway creaked with the pattering of feet, and the door opened before me.
“My feet,” I said to the half-conscious art professor, “are very cold.”