For anyone who has read ‘cloud street’ by Tim Winton, you may remember the first part of the book where Sam Pickles wakes up and describes a feeling of dread that has come over him, like something bad was going to happen.
Well that’s how I felt when I woke on our first morning in Cessnock, NSW.
I tried to forget about it but it kept creeping up on me that day. While I went for a walk, while we had lunch with Craig’s cousin and wife. While we had dinner at theirs later that night. I went to bed with the feeling.
At 4am Charlotte woke to go to the toilet. As we were walking back from the amenities block in the dark cold night I heard a strange noise. A whimper, a shiver, a cry and fear all in one. Then I see, a woman, crouched in a ball under a light pole next to the toilets. A man runs away from her and gets in his car.
In my half asleep state I don’t know what to make of it. I know I need to get my daughter out of any danger so I take Charlotte back to the camper and put her to bed. I wake Craig and tell him to grab his phone and come quickly.
I don’t want to go into detail too much on here. But I will say that this woman had been assaulted. We did what we could. We rang the police and I tried to comfort her. I gave her a hug as she got in the back of the police car to be taken to hospital. And the dread feeling left me. To be replaced with overwhelming sadness. I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep properly.
The next morning we both felt the need to do a quick pack up and move on. For the kid’s sake I couldn’t dwell on what I had witnessed. I got on with the holiday. I looked forward to going to our next stop, the Dubbo zoo.
But I also have a picture in my mind and it comes to me countless times in the last few days.
Of a blonde girl crouched in a ball, with fear all over her face.