Hello darkness

The darkness tonight was black and thick, tinged red like heavy velvet by the streetlamps; impenetrable. It reminded me that as the weeks ebb on, the evening light will wane and the hours of UV will wither into that frightful northern day of barely six hours. A creeping twinge of dread…

As torturous as I find the winter months for this very reason, I have a different relationship with the darkness itself, with the night-time. Never a morning fairy, always a sympathiser with owls and a reluctant sleeper (I once threw a horrendous tantrum at the age of three or so because my Mum and Dad wouldn’t let me stay in the plum tree all night like an owl), the night-time has always pulled me in. My dreams are more often than not set at night, and the strange and shiny things it offers forth – the moon and the stars – I’ve gazed at in wonder for as long as I can remember.

I may have to be up at 6am, or have been awake for two days and utterly exhausted, but the darkness still lures me in and I will linger on, pottering into the night. It possesses some indescribable peace, a calm unattainable at any other time, a release from the pressures of day. You come to feel special; you are one of a few, a society of strange ones privy to this hour of quiet, and crime; the witching hour…

Driving home in the dark on recent evenings, seeing the lights of lone cottages against silhouetted hillsides, crescent of a moon above, stirs some nostalgia in me. This image holds some sort of perfection for me, something I long for but recognise as unattainable – an existence contained entirely in the small stone walls of a rural abode, darkness outside, safety within… I assume this harks from my early childhood when we stayed out in the country, and I would stare out the window at the night as my Dad drove us home, content in the absence of knowledge of anything morally dark in the world…

The image of a cityscape at night is also one that’s stuck with me since I was small. We didn’t live near a big city so for a long time it must only have been in my fiction-inspired dreams, and again I remember being in the car at night as we drove somewhere, again gazing out into the dark, when I got to see such a sight for the first time. It’s still one I find thrilling, all of those lights against the black. In this case I welcome the moral darkness into my heart, for that is where the thrill lies: to look out on those lights in the night, exclusively human, a blanket of fascinating vice…



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