Can’t remember the last time I had the luxury of a full night’s sleep –
not blessed with an eight-hour bladder – and when I got up for my nightly trudge to the bathroom I noticed a light under the closed bedroom door. As I approached, the light went out and my heart stopped.
My husband lay sound asleep on his side of the bed, and since no one else lives with us, the only people who could have turned off that light were on my side of the door.
What to do? I tried to calm my heart’s pounding enough to listen for the intruder, but of course, I couldn’t. The blood throbbing in my eardrums deafened me to outside noises.
I weighed my options.
A younger me would burst through the door, take command of the situation (such bravado) and oust the invader. But I am neither young, nor strong.
So I sidled back to bed and perched on the edge, programmed my phone to call for help at the touch of a button.
Waiting for further proof was excruciating. I put on my glasses and tiptoed to the window that overlooks the driveway. No sign of life.
Did he come on foot? I wondered. My mind flashed to the series of recent visits we’d had from an odd character who strolls the sidewalks of our end of town on an endless mission for what, we cannot fathom. He has taken to ringing our doorbell when he passes, having happened to catch us outside one day and striking up conversation. He never says much, just asks the odd question which leaves us all startled.
The last time he showed up, I jokingly said to my husband that maybe he was scouting out the place to come back and rob us.
Now, in the pitch black of night, the possibility seemed more than real.
I couldn’t stand the tension – had to know.
Armed with the phone, I crept to the door, where once again I could see the thin line of light shining from the other side. With one finger poised over the dial button, I opened the door abruptly hoping the element of surprise would be in my favour.
The light switched off again and we were plunged back into darkness. I held up my glowing phone and as my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I realized I was alone.
Had he escaped to the basement? I was not willing to venture into the basement!
I checked the front door for signs of entry, but it was securely locked. I did the same with the side door – still bolted. I stood at the top of the stairs and listened, but was already feeling the foolishness of my terror, when light flooded the front room again.
A bus had gone by.
Every time a bus goes by it sets off our motion-activated front porch light, which normally is imperceptible from the back of the house, except when we leave the front window blinds up.
Feeling foolish, and now fully awake, I returned to bed and pondered what had just happened.
I was certain we were being robbed at the very least, and had built myself up to a possible assault or worse.
I had almost called 9-1-1.
Of course, I didn’t get back to sleep for sometime – the adrenaline now coursing through my body – but my mind now eased, I was not immune to the lesson of the moment:
It is so easy to jump to conclusions – rationality blinded by fear – and without the clarity of calmness, it is human nature to revert to defensive mode, which sometimes translates to violence.
I am a senior, living with disability, and I was ready to plunge head first into confrontation to protect my home. No rationality to be found there.
That is the power, and danger, of fear.
Writer, avid reader, former educator, and proud grandmother, currently experiencing life through the lens of ME/CFS. Words are, and always have been, a lifeline. Some of the best adventures, I'm discovering, take place in the imagination.