It was a man’s voice that woke me in the middle of the night. I was fast asleep dreaming of other things. And a man’s voice, not unfamiliar, said a single word. “Alison”. It was neither compelling or accusing, but it was spoken with clarity and conviction. And I woke instantly. Transfixed, almost paralysed with fear, I listened for more...
Almost at the same time, my Himalayan cat, who had been sleeping at my feet, leapt off the bed; and hurtled out of the room. Leaving me lying there. Alone. Heart thumping, ears straining.
There was a soft glow around the rectangle of the door. Lit by one of the computers in the front room. And silence.
I was certain I hadn’t dreamt the man’s voice. It was not connected in anyway to what I was dreaming. It sounded so close, so immediate and it had cut through and wrenched me from sleep.
It was not my father’s voice, he died over a year ago. I don’t believe in an after life, and nor did he. There was no way he would come back from the grave to “haunt” me. Beside he never went to a grave, he currently resides in an Urn, halfway up the stairs at my mother’s house, overlooking the dining room, ’til we decide what to do with him. No it was a younger voice than his.
It was not my son’s voice, he was fast asleep at the other end of the house... and although he occasionally calls me by first name, he would have called out “mum” if he needed me in the middle of the night. And the voice belonged to someone older than his twenty two years.
I thought of my daughter holidaying in Fiji. Was she OK, I wondered. I am not superstitious, but if the voice was a supernatural message, then could it have been from her?
But the voice, I was sure I knew it, the voice of a lover, a friend, an acquaintance? Who was it that woke me? The sound of the voice was so clear in my head. I imagined if there was an identikit system for voices. I could go to a voice bank, my head cradled in an enormous set of grey headphones. I know I could identify the voice if I heard it again. If I could pick it out of a line-up.
The door creaked ominously as Bella returned to the bedroom. She made the little greeting noise she makes at night, that sounds like a pigeon cooing. She jumped on the bed so lightly that I didn’t realise she was there until she started to nuzzle in under the covers.
I was awake when rolling rumbling of thunder crossed the night sky. I was awake when the possums ran across the roof making their nightly journey from the old ghost gums in the street to the Plane trees in my backyard.
And I was awake when a long way in the distance I heard the morning call of Kookaburras.
It was 4am.
Soon the grey light of morning would seep through the slats of my blinds, sift through my Moroccan screen, catching itself in the silk scarves that hang there and travel slowly across the golds and satins and velvets of my quilt. Around the same time my alarm will go off and Bella will be sitting next to me, waiting patiently for me to let her outside.
And in the cool light of day, I will wonder if I really did just dream the voice that said. “Alison.”