I don’t know how long I was out for – an hour maybe two. I find myself in that lovely space; suspended in the ether between peaceful oblivion and consciousness. I long to sink back into my dreams but motherhood strongly insists that I become alert. Soon I’m aware of the tick, tick, ticking of the overhead fan and I wait for a more urgent noise; a cry from my kids.
When nothing but the steady thrum of the fan is heard, I relax and begin to drift. My dog isn’t as eager to sleep and lets loose a menacing growl. I sit up and study my familiar surroundings. My eyes dart from one corner to the next, drawn to the moving shadows cast by a cars passing headlights.
I can’t see anything out of the ordinary but the dog persists with her steady, ominous thunder.
“Daisy, knock it off” I beg.
Goose flesh adorns my skin and I wish my husband wasn’t working the night shift. I reach for the bat beside my bed and pull it onto my lap. I sit for some time listening to every knock, tap, and creek in the threatening darkness.
I turn towards the wall of closets and study the creepy silhouettes that reside within. Instinctively I know this is where the monster hides. My hands tighten around the cool aluminum as I slip quietly out of bed and into an encounter with the cleverly hidden intruder. I thrust my bat into a wall of clothes, knocking hangers and their contents to the floor. I shut each closet after I’m done until all four are firmly closed. Nothing hides inside them. I turn in slow circles; bat raised and ready to strike. My dog has finished her grumbling and watches me with curiosity.
“Don’t look at me like I’m crazy, dog, you started this”. She wags her tail at the sound of my voice, and for a moment I swear she’s smiling at her own clever joke.
When nothing arises out of the gloom to violently murder me I climb back into bed and settle into its comfortable embrace. I try to get back to sleep but my mind won’t rest. I toss and turn and fluff my pillow but I’m too nervous to sleep. I have this compulsive need to investigate the rest of the house. What if someone broke in with devious plans and wicked intent? A rapist or serial killer might be sneaking up the stairs, right now, to commit atrocious acts against my family. I reach for the bat and slip out of bed once more. I tiptoe towards the stairs. I descend into the gloom to fight the shadows and my imagination, while the dog lightly snores and the ceiling fan ticks down every second of lost sleep.