Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In a dark, dark house...

Last night I was reading way too late into the night. It wasn't intentional, just one of those nights where everyone else was asleep and I kept accidentally reading the first two sentences of the next chapter, which stretched into the whole chapter, and into the next. The house was so quiet and still.

Suddenly, there was a sound: something falling onto the hardwood floor downstairs, something jingly, almost like a set of keys. I couldn't place what it was. The rabbit was in his cage, the cat in the basement for the night. It was unmistakeable, like something being dropped. Knocked. As if a person, an appirition was climbing through my house in the night.

I froze, and then regrouped. Tried to imagine something that had been precarious finally giving way to gravity. Reminded myself what it might have sounded like, in my silent home, had someone broken open a door or a window or wiggled their way out of the creaky basement door that has a chain latch (for the cat/kids). Remembered that there was actually nobody there, just my deeply exhausted and anciently traumatized brain playing mean tricks on me.

I continued to read, and then turned out the light. As the darkness fell over my exhausted body, I remembered the noise, and the maybe-somebody downstairs. Imagined them thinking my children were so beautiful, padding gently down the hall, grabbing their sleeping forms with a cloth over the mouth and nose and running out of the house, away. I was unable to stop the imagery flashing before my eyes, of my child's eyes, wild with fear as strangers took him from his home. Terror engulfed me.

I knew my fears were irrational, but I could not make them go away. I tiptoed down the hall and turned on the monitor on Aoife's crib. It has a motion sensor on it (oh, and how I lived for this thing with my kids, because if they stop breathing it will BEEP) so I figured if someone tried to silently abduct her, the alarm would sound. Then I went and crept into bed with Liam, wrapping myself quietly around his sleeping form, resting my forehead against his sweaty little brow. My arms were around his body, they could not snatch him without taking me down, too. I thought to myself, I would die before I would let them take my child, I would die.

And I would.

The strategy did not work. I was still too scared, too worked up. Some windows have no latches, the upstairs phone does not dial properly so how were we going to call 911? Finally I could not take this ridiculous scenario for one more minute. It was almost midnight. I woke Greg up.
I have to go downstairs to make sure nobody is in this house, I said, and I need you to stay awake until I come back up just in case I don't come back.

He nodded, humoring me.

I went down, looking in every closet, under the clawfoot tub, behind the furnace. Everywhere the kidnapper could conceive to hide himself. I checked the locks, and closed the baby gates on my way back up the stairs. The house was secure.
I kissed the children one more time and succumbed to a deep sleep. All that worry had worn me out.

This morning I awoke and almost laughed. What a drama I had engaged in, just me and my imagination late at night in the quiet house. But I entitle myself to these momentary and fleeting mental health crises, where my pain and grief become swept up in fear of something worse, of feelings of loss I cannot relive again.


Natalie said...

I do that too!

Aimee said...

Oh Carol, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that with all your postings that are so wonderful and filled with such an image of perfection with your love for your children and your life--that image that we all strive for and yet never feel we achieve quite to the level that you do--that even with all that...every once in a while you post something that shows us you are perfectly NORMAL! You have bad days, snap at the kiddos, and have totally irrational fears. YEAH! Just two nights ago I made Chris double check the garage doors while I brought our children into bed with us. I too had heard a noise in the absolute MIDDLE of the night and despite the totally obvious answer that there was NOBODY around, my children would NOT be safe unless they were with me. Good thing we have understanding husbands.

Hennifer said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one who does this.

One morning I was literally paralyzed in my bed for fear that when I went to wake my son I would find him dead (this was many moons ago). It was so scary, how intense it was!

Staying in bed and not knowing was agony, knowing that once I stepped out of bed I knew what I would find was sickening. I laid there and willed my son to wake up and come to me.

Crazy. And maybe not the same because I was not propelled to action.

Rixa said...

Yet another nighttime prowler here, who sometimes (probably more than I'd like to admit) is convinced I'm hearing someone breaking into the house. I miss my dog, because if there really were an intruder he would have let us know right away. It doesn't help that there's a convicted sex offender (who has molested 4-year-old girls) just five doors down...