I was young and my only memory of age is waiting the next morning in the driveway of a neighbour’s house for the taxi ride to school. I must have been five, six or seven, ‘cause by eight I was riding my bike. I remember the other kids playing in the driveway, Jenny was singing, “My friend the witch doctor said I was in love with you.” The mothers were lip-sticked-red and chatting and I was in a daze of thinking – about the night before.
I woke in the night to the arrival of people in my room. They came from out of the darkness and into colour, a mass of swirls of shape that took the form of people. I was terrified. I lay back deep into the pillow, eyes to the ceiling, checking first to see if I really was awake and hoping to God that when I looked back out there they’d sure as hell be gone. It scared me even more to realise I was awake and when I looked back out, I tell you, they were there.
Closest to me, on my left side, a boy looking silently on me, holding something in his hand. It could be a candle but it isn’t burning, yet it spreads a dull light on us all. At the end of my bed, two men, and someone older behind them still. All in fast discussion of things I can’t hear. I can’t make out a word of what they’re saying but they’re talking to one another and I know it’s about me.
They were part of the depth of the air and yet they didn’t come into a full reality of life. I tell you, they were there.
One had a book, read but not written in. I started to panic about where all this was going. I was there on my own with no one to save me and I was only a kid myself. I remember thinking you don’t scare kids like this, it’s cruel.
The rest of my house lay silent, including my brother in the very next bed. I called out to him but he didn’t wake up. I lay there looking up to the ceiling and back out at them, up to the ceiling and back at them, over and over ‘til I summoned the courage to sit up and ask quite bluntly, “Who are you? Whada ya want?”
Maybe I could break the whole thing up. Smash it to pieces.
I pass out my arm, swiping through the boy at my side. He sort of moves back and then comes forward again. The others pay no attention to me, no attention at all to what I am saying. The oldest one, at the back, glances rudely at me as if too say I am behaving all too unnecessarily. They go straight on with their business with no time to waste. My only hope for now – they will just go away.
The boy at my side had no part in the discussion at all. He had the duty of a child, dragged along as company to carry whatever it is that he is holding, to watch, listen and be told, ‘This is how it’s done’. The boy was deeply in thought of me, saying nothing. My memory of feelings tells me that he carried a certain sadness and a knowing of my life. It was like he knew me, he knew the boy, knew that I was frightened by it all but unable to do anything to help me. We seemed to communicate with one another, emotionally. Was he sad for the boy I was that he wasn’t? Or was he sad for something he knew?
I remember not much more than they stayed and then they were gone. The older people left like doctors leaving a patient’s bed, turning on their heels in chase of the next one with little time to loose, no goodbyes. The boy left last on the tail of the others, slowly, turning back at me with a sullen face.
When all was black again and they were gone, I ran out of bed and up the hall to my Mum to tell her, “There were people in my room!”. She said I’d been dreaming but I knew I hadn’t been. I crawled in on her side of the bed and spent the rest of the night laying there. I didn’t cry but I was pretty stunned.
In the morning I maintained my belief at breakfast, ”There were people in my room!” My brother mocked me and still does, ”Wooow, people in the rooooom!” Mum found it all a bit humorous and sweet; her little boy had a nightmare and had come running to her side. I never told them anything about the boy; something had connected between the two of us that stayed between the two of us.
Other than standing there then, that morning, waiting for the taxi, I tried not to think about them anymore but I couldn’t help but think about them each and every night as I went to bed, always falling asleep facing my brother and away from the wardrobe where I thought that they had come, hoping they would never come back again. And they never did. But will they?
What had they wanted? Who were they? Were they really there? Will I ever know? One day I think I will know but I’ll just have to wait.
When I was a little older, I told my Nan about this night and she seemed to know something about them. Although she never said anything, she was taken back a little by what I said and she never said that I must have been dreaming.