Night Cars

One of the things I like about the night time is the way the lights shine in the city, so many different colours falling out into the shadows, yellow tinged at the edges. So many buildings, imposing by day that are softened by neon and darkened glass.

When my son was a toddler we could see the Harbour Bridge from his bedroom window at night. Sometimes it appeared festive, strewn with fairy lights; sometimes the only lights we could see were the cars crossing the water. The night cars.

My son still talks of a story I used to tell him when he was little of the night cars driving across the night bridge taking all the lost people home. The finer details of the story are sketchy now but the sentiment of the story remains.

I have spoken to many people who have told me of the importance of the stories they were told as children. Stories that were made up by mothers, sisters, granddads and so many others. Often, the plots have faded into distant memory but the theme of the stories remains – the comfort of home, being found, being saved, seeing happiness arrive at your front door, knowing that everything is going to be alright.

My own grandmother used to tell me a story about a little fox. I can’t even remember what happened in the story, what the little fox did, but every time I see a fox or think of the story I feel good. There is a sense of comfort that still lingers even after all these years, a sense of being safe from harm.

My son said to me; ‘Mum, you have no idea how much I loved that story, how much it meant to me…’ but I do know. I think we all do.

The power of the story. The power of the storyteller. Enduring, restoring, gladdening. Sustaining us as much as food, shelter and money in the bank. Maybe that’s why in spite of all the tricks and temptations of modern life we continue to read, we continue to write. Maybe deep in our hearts we know how much we need to hear the stories of the world.

When I look out the window at night and catch sight of the lights on the bridge it can still appear gloomy and dark. Imposing. But when I think of the night cars crossing it, driving the lost people home it appears brighter.

And I know with a startling clarity as the cars cross the bridge in an astounding play of light that there are hundreds, thousands of stories of comfort and hope and foxes and cars out there just waiting to be told.

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24 thoughts on “Night Cars

  1. Wow, what word pictures you conjure up Sel and what lovely memories of night time treasured stories, told by my mom or dad. thank you!

    What a lovely son you have.A thoughtful and gentle young man.

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    1. Aww thanks for saying that, G. He is thoughtful at times. Not too difficult for a 15-year old and believe me I have heard some horror stories about teen behaviour so I know I am fortunate. It’s such a relief!

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  2. A flair for the dramatic, a big heart, a hopeless romantic and an innate ability to bring a story to life. You, my friend, have it all!

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    1. Cathy, you’re going to make me blush. Thank you so much. I would cartwheel if I could but you know – bad knee, old joints, weird centre of gravity – it just wouldn’t be a good look. But you can rest assured I am cartwheeling internally 😀 😀 😀

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  3. Yet another beautifully written piece. It’s amazing how much things from our childhood can warm us or stay with us for our lives and influence our adult selves. Hope you’re safe from the hyper birds! They’re talking to us more and more every day!

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    1. I couldn’t agree more. I honestly thought my son had forgotten about that story. I was actually touched he remembered. I have been stalked by magpies over the past few days. They are following me like a scene from Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds.’ It is a little unnerving. Their beaks look sharp. Hope you are staying safe!!

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    1. It is all of us, Timoteo, isn’t it? One of the universal themes of life, I suspect. It made me feel a little wistful too. Thank you for mentioning that!

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  4. We do know the comfort of the story – but it is lovely to hear your version of the tale – I can just imagine you inventing a story for your son when he was younger 🙂 Lovely post Selma.

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    1. He loved his stories, Gabrielle. Sometimes I would read to him and make stories up for hours. I miss those days. It seems like a golden time now.

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  5. I was riding on a bus in the Lake District with my children, who wanted to know why the lake we just passed was called Brotherswater. So, I made up a story to tell them, about two Norse brothers called Ulf and Vinund, who held land in two adjacent valleys. Each valley had a lake in it; Ulf called his lake Ulf’s Water (Ullswater) and Vinund called his Vinund’s Mere (Windermere).

    Right on the boundary of their lands was a smaller lake, which they called ‘Brothers’ Water’

    And, I was amused, several years later, to see this story, almost word for word, given as FACT in a guide-book. I wonder if the author was listening?

    (The first story I remember was told to me by my grandmother, called ‘The Prince Went to Sea’. All I remember were the title and the pictures … but I think the Prince may have been Prince Willam Henry, who had a full carrer in the Navy before becoming King William IV at the age of 64!)

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    1. I love your story about the Norse brothers and isn’t it amazing it was repeated years later???

      The Prince Went To Sea sounds right up your street. Your grandmother knew you well 😀

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  6. Selma you have a knack of making me look at something with different eyes. Why, I wonder, do children need to be comforted? What, with so little experience of the world, would they know about fear? We all know that ‘home’ for most is a place of comfort and safety – but why? Love this post.

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    1. That is a really good point Adeeyoyo. Why DO children need to be comforted? Maybe it’s just a part of human nature. I know that stories afford me a lot of comfort as does the thought of home. Maybe it’s an example of security and safety in a stressful world. I don’t really know. You’ve got me thinking now too!

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  7. Beautiful writing Selma! You really do have a gift, you words always weave such magic.

    You are right about the power of stories, my Dad used to make up stories for me and I knew all the characters so well. Once on my birthday when I was very young, the doorbell rang and it was the postman delivering a telegram for me! It was to wish me happy birthday and it was from all my ‘story’ friends, it was wonderful. My Dad made me believe in magic and that was a beautiful gift.

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    1. That is a beautiful story about the telegram. You must have been thrilled. What a lovely idea. I think that’s what stories in childhood do – make us believe in magic. A beautiful gift, indeed 😀

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    1. I have, Bluebee. I will probably tackle it early next year when I rework my blog and self-host it etc. I am looking into it now. I am also planning to do podcasts and other bits and pieces. So kind of you to provide the link and sorry for the late reply.

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  8. Yes, yes, yes! You know you don’t have to convince me. I adore the idea/image of the bridge and the cars taking the people home.

    One more type of story I am in love with is the blogging community, telling stories of our lives. Knowing that we have the power to invent ourselves through the stories we choose to tell. I’m so glad you’re telling yours, my beautiful friend.

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    1. I’m glad you’re telling yours too, Jennifer. Sometimes I am blown away by the power and the beauty of the stories out there in the blogging community. It really is a wonderful thing!

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