The Singing Woman, 04.10.2013

The sound of bicycles passing at night – tyres skidding on wet gravel. The Doppler-effect of their rear lights form receding red splashes against our cotton curtains. Sometimes the voices are genial, sometimes slightly drunk. Groups of friends held in discussion. As the hours slip by, and the hour hand slinks into deep night, there are fewer passers-by. Their presence is shadier and more enigmatic. Sometimes noises slice through the darkness and the slight glass sheeting of our windows and the ice-cold hand of fear, grips me.

Last night, in the dead of night, the outside sounds broke through my subconscious sleeping mind and woke me. I heard a woman’s voice outside. Lost and strange, she was singing. In the obscurity of night it felt like an evil sound, a shamanic warbling sung in warped melodies. I allowed my warm sleepy night-skin to slip out of the chamber of heat underneath the duvet. I peered out beyond the curtains.

There she was, I could see her quite clearly, crouching in the undergrowth. It is dark by Victoria Park and so she was lit only by moonlight. Her dog, a large (caramel-brown?) setter stood – his neck straining, his tail wagging vehemently. What was this woman doing there, scrambling about in the undergrowth, in this unpleasant cold night, spattering rain? What was she singing and who was she singing to? I was frightened, but sunk back in the pillows.

A little later I could hear her singing voice fading back along the towpath towards the Cambridge Heath Road. Whatever she was looking for she had found, and then, like a demonic banshee of the night – fled back along the desolate road to Hackney.

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