About 2.30 a.m., my husband, Bruce, and I were awakened by a noise that sounded like it was coming from our living room.
“What was that?” I said as I sprang up in bed.
“It sounds like someone’s downstairs,” my husband said as he got out of bed.
He crept down the stairs and peaked around and then returned.
“What was it?” I whispered in a loud voice, trying not to wake the baby.
“I don’t know. I couldn’t see anything without my glasses,” he said.
In the movies, the husband returns to bed with an answer. You never hear anything about myopia.
I got up, turned on the light in the hallway, and we both crept down the stairs. My heart was pounding. We separated into different parts of the house. My husband went toward the back of the house, I went toward the front, checking every door and window. I was glad to see every window was still closed but disappointed to find most of them were unlocked. Still, I couldn’t imagine an intruder creeping in through an open window and then being green enough to make sure he closed it behind him because he knew the air conditioning was on.
I met up with my husband in the kitchen, near the stairs that led down to our basement.
“We should check down there,” I said, which meant, “Can you check down there?” I always imagine demons and burglars lay in wait in the basement – and yet I sent him down there. I’m not sure what to say about that. As my husband walked slowly down the stairs, I checked the small bathroom and a walk-in pantry just off of our kitchen. No sign of any intruder. My husband came back up the basement steps. I looked at him.
“Nothing,” he said.
We walked back upstairs and split up once again. I checked the front guest room and the nursery (our baby still sleeps in our room) while my husband went up the stairs to the attic. As he came back down the stairs, I looked at him again.
“The back door was open,” he said.
“What?!?” I asked. We were looking for signs of an intruder, but I didn’t think we’d actually find any. “The door was open?”
“Yeah. It was unlocked,” Bruce said.
“Do you mean the screen door was actually ajar, or do you just mean we didn’t lock the wood door behind it?” I rephrased my question. “Was the screen door open or closed?”
“The screen door was closed,” Bruce said. “It was the wood door that was open.”
I was relieved. I was the one who didn’t close the wood door. I leave it open all summer, exposing the screen door, so that we get a cross breeze.
“So what the hell was that noise?” I said.
“I don’t know, but it sounded human,” Bruce said.
“It sounded like this,” I said, and made a noise that sounded like a whimpering rodent. “It sounded like someone stepped on a child’s toy and made it squeak. Either that or someone stepped on the cat.”
I paused and said, “Well, I think it came from outside the window. I hear lots of things outside that sound like they’re coming from inside the house.”
“It sounded like it was downstairs,” Bruce said as he got back into bed.
It didn’t surprise me that we thought someone was in the house. There was recently a break-in down the street, and the burglar entered the house in the middle of the night while the couple was asleep. In fact the woman woke up to find the prowler in her bedroom, rifling through her purse. She screamed, and he ran. The prowler had entered their home through a back door that was left open. He then walked right by her husband, who was asleep in the living room in front of the TV.
I crawled into bed and looked over at Eddie in his bassinet, which is attached to the side of our bed. He was sleeping soundly. I could hear his faint breathing. Soon, Bruce had fallen back asleep, and I could hear his snoring. I lay there between the two of them staring at the ceiling, my heart still racing. I’ve heard noises before, but I usually dismiss them as anxiety and fears — childhood fears about ghouls and demons that have always preyed on me at night. And it always helps that Bruce sleeps right through anything I hear. But this time he woke up, perhaps because the stakes are higher now that we have a baby who relies on us to keep him safe. And we love him so much, we would never want anything to happen to him. As I lay there, I thought about that home invasion in Connecticut and how that poor man lost his whole family while he was unconscious from a blow to the head. I thought about how odd it was that Bruce never heard someone breaking into our house before, and how now that we have a baby, he darts out of bed like a great protector. I thought about all the other times I’d heard bumps and thuds in the night, before the baby, and how Bruce never got up, and I thought, “What am I, chopped liver?”