Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Things That Go Bump In The Night

I came home from a meeting tonight, after dark, and drove down our driveway, which rolls down past the house to the garage at the bottom of the yard, some 100 feet from the house. The garage was never a carriage house, but it is fairly old. It has two huge doors hung on rollers, which we rarely close, and one regular door, painted white, which we rarely open. I suppose the idea was that if you wanted to go in the garage while the big doors were shut, you used the regular door, but since the rollers haven't been oiled in ages, and the big van sticks out of the garage anyway, there's no point in using the small door.

You can't see the garage from the street, or until you crest the top of the drive where it curves tightly past the house. (This makes it sound like we have a grand estate, but really it's that whoever renovated the whole shebang in 1929 gave the driveway a swooping curve from the street that's murder to negotiate with the huge van.) The house is on a rise, and the yard slopes down steeply enough so that the roof of the garage sits below the level of the house.

All this is to say that the garage is a slightly isolated building, though one that's wholly visible if you look out any back window of the house. And it's why I had a slight shock as I pulled up the minivan into its space, which is in front of the small door, and realized that it was hanging open.

Now, there are umpteen reasons I can name off the top of my head why this might be so. It was a warm day, considering, and the kids were running in and out of the yard. Someone might have grabbed something from that side of the garage and gone through the door simply because it was there. It's possible it could have blown open. There was nothing all at all alarming about it, except that a door that was usually closed was open, and that it was dark, and I was alone.

The dark makes a lot of difference. One of my daughters is a sensitive child who stands by my bed at night and tells me that she's scared because no one sleeps with her. (In her bed, that is; her brothers sleep piled together in a twin bed not three feet from hers.) She hears something and doesn't know what it is. And every time I say, "Honey, this is our good, safe house. There's nothing there. I want to you to go back in your bed." And I roll over and snuggle closer to the two men in my bed, and if my daughter decides to climb in with me, I'm generally too sleepy to do anything about it.

I was about to reach out and grab the doorknob to pull the door shut when a fleeting thought caught me: "What if something grabs my hand?" And believe it or not, I hesitated -- in my safe backyard, in my low-crime, settled neighborhood, where no bodies have been found in garages for as long as I can remember. Then I shuddered and pulled the door shut. I walked up the driveway at a disciplined pace. I did not turn around to see if I was being followed. As soon as I stepped into the bright, noisy kitchen, I forgot any nerviness, because what was there to be afraid of in our good, safe house?

Noises in the night never bother me, because I am nestled up with Darwin and with a soft creamy fellow with fluffy curls and a footy sleeper. When Darwin is away on a business trip, then I worry. Every sound is magnified. Still, though, the soft fellow is a comfortable presence next to me, and the house is full of people. In fact, I've almost never lived alone -- I went from college house to newlywed apartment, and I've been making my own company ever since. The last time I slept in a house all alone was in the few weeks before I got married, when I lived at the apartment and Darwin lived at his parents' house. And even then I had a cat.

That cat is still around, sleeping on people's pillows when we don't want him around. I suppose he'll be our resident ghost if he ever dies, but at 19 his attitude is still at bad as ever. And he goes bump in the night, his claws clicking on the attic floor above me before he pounds down the stairs like a herd of elephants, all seven pounds of him. I hear my bedroom door creak open (it doesn't latch unless it's locked) and then the cat jumps up on my bed to join me and Darwin and the baby and sometimes the girl and the other cat too. Just us mammals taking up not enough space, and nothing reaching out to grab me except those I love.

1 comment:

Melanie Bettinelli said...

I don't usually scroll down to see who is writing and why my brain defaults to assuming Mr or Mrs D is the narrator of any given post is anyone's guess. But for some reason I was reading this one in Mr D's voice and then I got to the line about snuggling with two men in my bed and my brain screeched into a hard turn.

I don't often get scared of things that bump in the night, but every once in a while something does. I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night just the other night and suddenly I had a horror of looking into the mirror, a lingering fear from my childhood that very rarely comes back to haunt me. And then just last week I was sitting up in bed quite late, Dom sound asleep beside me, as I typed up something or other, and suddenly I heard a voice speaking from the other room. Must be one of the kids, I thought. And then a few minutes later I heard it again. And then a few minutes later again. I was getting seriously creeped out. If my sister were visiting it would not be unusual. She talks in her sleep (and sings, screams, and moans, too) but she's not here. Was it one of the kids? I crept into a bedroom and a sleepy girl raised her head. "I think you were talking in your sleep," I said, though really if she had been, would she have been sleeping so lightly? Later I heard the voice yet again and this time recognized it for what it was, my phone automatically connecting and disconnecting to the speaker in the kitchen. Ain't technology great?