The Case of the Mysterious Nighttime Visitor

Okay, when I really think about what I'm about to tell you, I get totally freaked out and scared. So I'm going to tell it either matter-of-factly or with a light touch, just to keep myself sane. Agreed?

Last night I was home alone. I was exhausted after a very long class. Kirk needed to go out to get some stuff done for his class, but I just wasn't up to leaving the house again, so he ventured out on his own. I stayed in bed, propped up by pillows, my trusty laptop on my lap and, of course, the kitties lounging beside me. A cold front had begun to move in, so before Kirk left he raised the blinds and cranked open the facing casement windows in our bedroom. I sat there feeling very cozy under the bundle of covers, cool air brushing against my face and the sound of wind creaking through the trees outside the window, and started making my way through this wonderful English girl's blog archives.

About an hour into this quiet and blissful night, I heard a noise. Crunch, crunch, crunch, went the sound of footsteps on autumn leaves behind our house, in the little crop of space wide enough for one person and which ultimately ends at our bedroom window.

When I heard the crunching of leaves (by two feet, not four, which would have indicated it was a dog), I went still. I heard the footsteps approach, getting louder, until they stopped just outside my big open window. Since the warm light from the nightstand lamp was inside the room with me and it was dark outside, I couldn't tell if anyone was standing near the window, looking in.

"Hello?" I called out, leaning forward and straining my eyes. I thought (hoped! hoped!) maybe it was Kirk, returning from his classwork and sneaking up to say hi to me in a creative way. No dice.

Crunch, crunch, crunch, went the sound of footsteps retreating.

Now, this is scary enough, right? But then I remembered that our bathroom window in the next room over was broken. Just this past weekend, when we tried to crack it open for the first time since the outside of the house was painted in summer, the hinges got bent and we couldn't re-close the window. Since that small window doesn't have a screen, we've been living bathroom life with a wide open window for this past week.

Put that together with this stranger walking along the backside of our house, and I was really scared. What if they decided to climb through the bathroom window and into the house? What would I do then -- throw Solomon at them? Solomon wouldn't even know what to do; he's a big roly-poly cat, and he prefers males to females anyway.

The first thing I did was get up and screw the casement windows closed, and then locked them and lowered the blinds. (I can't believe I was so brave, but I was shaking as I did this.) The second thing I did was step into the hallway and listen for sounds. The kitties seemed alert, like maybe they'd heard a sound in the house coming from the direction of the bathroom, so I put my ears on high alert too and moved stealthily against the wall. I couldn't hear anything unusual. I got to the bathroom, peered around the doorway to look inside, and found it empty. Phew.

Then I went back to the bedroom and picked up my phone to call Kirk.

"Hi. Where are you?" I asked when he picked up.

He said he was on a street near our own.

"So you're in your car? Coming home?"

"Yes. What's wrong?"

I told him what had happened. He asked if I was okay. I told him I was a little shaken up and could he please hurry and get home. And when he got home, I was a basketcase for about 30 minutes.

Thankfully, all the windows in our house are either sealed shut or have locks on them, and all of them are now locked and will remain that way unless both of us are home. I always keep the door locked when I'm home alone as it is. And the handyman came by this morning and fixed the bathroom window. So hopefully that means all will be okay.

We can't, of course, live like two basketcases together in the house, only going somewhere if the other person goes too, but in times like this I kind of wish we could.