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.