Also, I felt silly. We had an alarm system installed in 1986 after a bad guy broke in to our basement while I was home with infant Son One. He fled when he heard me calling 911 from upstairs. Still, that was enough to keep me in "fight or flight" mode for a good long time.
Even now, I guess, I still have a high alert response to unusual noises in the night. I'm always overly self-protective when I'm sleeping here alone. Alarm on; all doors double locked; maybe a little light burning in the kitchen. But once those compulsive security measures are taken I usually sleep great, enjoying the bed to myself for a day or two.
But not this time. I lay awake and alert for a good half hour, hearing every creak and moan of the house. Finally, I got up and tiptoed to the window. All dark and quiet. No cars on the street. The wind was calm. Nothing moving. I shuffled over to the phone to ensure the lines hadn't been cut. Nope. I heard a strong, steady dial tone, so the alarm was working. (I never should have watched that TV movie some years ago where the bad guys came in during the unprotected daytime open door and hid inside until night when the family was asleep. I mean, really! Who thinks this stuff up?)
I stood at the top of the stairs and peered down, trying to determine if anything looked different from when I went to bed. No; everything was the same. Still…I kept thinking I heard "something" down there. I stood motionless for probably 15 minutes. Then I slowly descended the stairs, clutching my cell phone and my weapon of choice: the deadly sewing shears. (Don't worry; I've been trained in their use, which generally involves fabric, but I figured I could improvise.) I did a cautious walk-through and nothing was amiss. Still….I couldn't relax completely.
Eventually, I got so tired of feeling frightened that I nearly decided to check into a hotel, just to make the anxiety stop. Quickly I decided against that extreme measure. I thought of calling Son One to see if I could crash on their couch, but the thought of his heart racing when he saw me on the caller ID at two in morning stopped me from doing that too. Why bring him into this craziness? Besides, both of those choices would also require me to go into the garage…an area I had not checked in my walk-through.
So, I moved from room to room over and over, peering out, listening, wondering what I might have heard, telling myself how foolish this was and how once the sun came up I'd feel better and this would all seem so unnecessary.
Still, I couldn't imagine going back upstairs and expecting to sleep. I sat erect on the sofa, checked the mass distribution emails that always come in the middle of the night; flipped over to Facebook and noted which of my friends was up and posting at 2 a.m. (a new mom, of course, and my night owl friend who works all night on producing a monthly arts magazine in South Carolina).
Finally, by 3:00 I lay down on the sofa and soon was asleep, awakening to the sunrise at 5:00 with stiff shoulders and a sore neck. I got another hour of dozing in before being up for the day.
And sure enough, it all seemed so very over-wrought in the daylight. I am quite certain I didn't dream the sound, but I certainly can't account for it either. But I shouldn't be surprised, really. I have had that experience in this house on and off ever since we moved in….the phantom door slamming thing.
I thought we had evicted our resident ghost. Maybe she's back. Anyone want to come by for a sleepover? We'll have tons of fun!