In February I posted if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more, mentioning the 1500 word short story I was writing for the Australian Country Style Magazine’s 2013 competition, “referencing directly or obliquely, the idea of ‘chance’”, and commented how the inspiration came to me via a dream.
“This dream… worked hard to convince me what it had to tell was inspiring rather than annoying. Three times I extricated myself from its grip. Three times it dragged me back. Over Sunday morning coffee, I told the G.O. “I had the worst dream last night. It felt awfuI. It wouldn’t let me go”. As I recounted the dream, I felt my gut wrenching over again. I asked “Why would I dream something like that? God forbid it ever happens. What chance would we have?”… as realisation dawned.”
As I was writing the story, I relived the feelings and thoughts of the dream whereby the G.O., me and our dog (who was my real dog until about 10 years ago) had to flee our home, stopping only to say goodbye to my aunt and uncle. I woke up at that point and had to make up the rest… What would you do, where would you go, and how, if you had to flee?
This is my version.
The room is warm but I slip my arms into a robe, tie it around me before walking to the front of the house. I unlatch the bolts on the door, tug it open onto an empty coolroom quiet street. Brittle air crackles and a remnant of frost sheens the ground. The usual drone of city traffic is muted. I haven’t seen or heard a bird since last weekend.
I woke to unaccustomed daylight. Jerked upright with feet on the floor it’s too late panic until the knowledge it’s Saturday resolved the confusion. Alongside me, still, my husband and beside the bed on the floor, dog, both breathing evenly although I know they listen within their one eye open sleep.
In the kitchen the microwave LCD panel flashes 1.07 am. I check my watch, 10.33 am. Power cut overnight. We needed to sleep. We’re not late. There’s plenty of time. I turn the radio dial. Each station emits muzak. I open the laptop, click the Internet Explorer icon, No Connection Available.
I pick up my phone, press Last Number Dialled. It rings until a synthetic voice suggests I leave a message. I don’t bother to again. Nor do I go to the television. Broadcasts devolved to repeats of soaps, and hourly news bulletins saying not much but somehow saying enough.
I can’t think about this yet. I need coffee. I pour the last beans into the machine and add fresh water. Noisy grinding summons my husband and dog. They greet me briefly; my husband with a kiss, the dog runs her head under my hand, before moving on to attend to nature’s call. Vin unlocks the door to the yard for her on his way to the bathroom.
Coffees in hand I follow the dog. From the back step I see Zee; halted, head up, intent, listening. Movement causes her to turn around. She barks softly, skips across to bump her nose into my leg, hard. I follow her gaze to assess the sky, sunlight obscured by a film of cloud tinged with bruised colours.
Vin appears, reaching for his coffee. His other hand rubs his ear. “It’s getting worse”. I know he means the hum. For me it’s a low continual resonance. The effect on Vin whose tinnitus it amplifies, and super-ears Zee is torment. Zee repeats her nose bump on Vin’s leg. He acknowledges her, “We will”.