In sixth grade I excitedly hunkered into the overstuffed movie-theater seat, my body anticipating the dimming of lights and beginning scene of one of my all-time favorite stories, The Lord of the Rings. I was giddy. Two and a half hours later, I sat frozen, unmoving in same said seat. I was eleven and I was terrified crawling, treacherous creature Gollum. That night I slept with all three of my pocket knives under my pillow. Or rather I lay in bed with three knives. Sleep was nowhere to be found.

Fast forward thirteen years. I am twenty-four and fast asleep in my childhood room. I have just returned from a year-long Europe excursion and am staying at my parents’ house for the summer. I wake up to a faint sound of scuffling in the foyer below my room. I listen, and the sound fades. Unconcerned (having grown up in a farmhouse I am used to nightly creaks as the house settles) I roll over and close my eyes.

Minutes later I hear the same scuffling. It sounds like my brother’s dog, Harp, walking across the wood floor with her claws. Yet I don’t hear my brother or his dog bound up the stairs in their normal nightly fashion. Plus, he’s supposed to be out of town tonight. The sound continues. Then a cold trickle of dread seeps into my semi-consciousness.

Someone is in the house.

I immediately assume the worst; Mom and Dad are goners. Sleeping down the hall with fan and air conditioning on, they never had a chance to hear an approach. The only reason I must still be alive is that the intruders didn’t know which room I’d be in.

Well, I’m not going to wait around for them to figure it out.

I slide my hand beneath my pillow and my fingers close over the rounded handle of my pocket knife. Thirteen year habits are hard to kick.

The scuffling sound grows louder as I open my door and sneak into the darkened hallway. Mom and Dad’s door is shut. They’re in a better place, I remind myself as I inch toward the stairs. My heart, seemingly aware of the situation and unwilling to give me away, keeps a quick but quiet beat.

I gaze over the railing into the dark foyer. The sound is undoubtedly coming from this room, but I see no one. I creep down a few more steps with my knife held in front of me.


Where are they? I stare into the darkened corners expecting to see creepy eyes staring back at me, but I find only the faded print of wallpaper.

Then I look down.

Damn it.

Minutes later, I crawl back into bed utterly disgusted. With my pocketknife stowed safely away beneath my pillow, I close my eyes to the moon-shadowed ceiling and shake my head. No more crime shows for me. I make a silent vow to avoid anything remotely violent again.

In the year I was absent my parents bought a Roomba.

I was nearly suckered into stabbing a robotic vacuum cleaner to death.

1 Comment

  1. Elaine Schnabel

    You gave up SO fast on your parents. Cracked me up.


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