The days have been long and silent. My companions are the voices in my head and the return of The Bogeyman.
Last week was the hard week, or at least it should have been. Heath left on Monday morning and came home Friday evening. That is a long time to do the whole parent thing alone, cooking dinner every night and worrying constantly. Somehow it wasn’t too bad. It was a long week, don’t get me wrong, but everything was fine. Yay me – I did it!
Heath was home long enough to have a busy weekend and a Monday in his office at the end of the hall. Tuesday morning he woke up at 4:00 am and was out the door 45 minutes later.
I had spent Monday night crying. Everything hurt. My worrier was sore. The week loomed ahead like an unsurmountable task. Why did I think the second week would be easier? Why hadn’t I anticipated the flood of emotion? And why oh why couldn’t the grocery store ever have Diet Coke bottles in stock?
Even Heath didn’t want to go. He hadn’t fully recovered from the jetlag of his last trip. His boss was the one who had set up this quick jaunt to San Francisco to meet with the rest of the team … and then she canceled. Heath wished he had canceled too.
Rain pounded outside. According to Wally Weatherman, there had been over half an inch of rain since midnight. By some miracle, Heath made it to the airport quickly despite all the puddles and accidents on the freeway.
The Bogeyman has not bothered me in years. He has been lurking around the edges of my mind lately. It started last week when the boys were at Scouts. I heard so much popping and cracking I swore someone was walking around upstairs. Gwen and I were downstairs talking with the sister missionaries who had dropped by. No one said anything about the unaccounted for footsteps upstairs. I decided it was just me.
A full week later I was home alone again. Heath had left me that morning and the kids were at school. I decided to soak in the tub while watching a movie and sipping a Diet Coke. Heath never could find a six pack of bottles so he bought me cans. As a pleasant surprise he bought me three 20 0z bottles, one for every day he would be gone this week. I was enjoying the first bottle.
Even though the TV was loud, I heard a sound that made my blood run cold. Who was unlocking the front door at 10 am? With my heart in my throat I paused my movie. I was well aware that my phone was sitting on the bed nowhere near me. There was no way to call for help. I was going to die. Naked in my bathtub, feet away from all the jewelry we had replaced after last December’s burglary. Awesome.
I heard the sound again. It was coming from outside. I listened harder. It was a bird. I never did hear Safety Sal announce that the front door had opened. No squealing alarm was triggered. The house was silent. With shaking hands I turned the movie back on and took a long swig of Diet Coke. I laughed at myself for my own jumpiness. Point for The Bogeyman.
Yesterday The Bogeyman returned for real. He didn’t do weird things I could easily pass off as my own overactive imagination. I set the alarm after sending Gwen out the door for school. I did my workout and showered. This time I did have my phone with me in the bathroom. My friend canceled my babysitting gig. Her kids were sick. Unfortunately I still needed to go to the grocery store. Heath is always sweet enough to buy me all the food I need to cook while he’s gone. He will fill my gas tank. He will do everything for me so I never have to leave the house. Now that the kids take the bus to school I literally do not have to drive anywhere.
Wednesday was the exception. It was a busy day full of inevitable driving. The grocery store was added to the list when Gwen announced she had earned lunch with her teacher and could she have a lunchable? Also Gavin said he needed a folder for one of his classes. Off to the store with me. I wasn’t nervous until I walked downstairs.
What I saw made my heart stop. I felt numb like I did last December when I walked into the house and realized something wasn’t right. Before I was even all the way downstairs I saw the absence of light on Safety Sal. The light is green when the alarm is not set and red when it is. If there is no light it means something is open. A door or a window.
I had set the alarm. I always do when I’m home alone. And nothing should be open. It’s freezing outside! I stared at that missing light for several seconds. Finally I touched it which pulled up the home screen. According to the home screen my house was armed and secure. There was no added announcement that anything was open. But why the missing light? I pulled up the videos and only saw the kids leaving for school. The only light I saw was the emergency contact button. I was tempted to touch it to call for help.
I didn’t figure it was necessary to call the police from the screen but maybe I could figure out how to call Vivint and ask why the hey howdy hey my alarm system seemed to be acting up. I could just imagine their response. “Everything is fine ma’am. We can’t tell why the light isn’t on.” Not exactly the words I want to hear when I’m home alone doing the temporary single parent thing.
The store still needed to happen and I wanted to get there before the kids came home from school. It took all my willpower to talk myself into going. All I could think of was how I had gone shopping one day thinking nothing of it and when I came home I walked into my worst nightmare. I remembered in vivid detail the eerily moving blinds and the shattered glass. I remembered that hellacious day.
Against my better judgment, I set the alarm. I didn’t do the silent setting either. I let it beep beep beep loudly while I forced my legs to walk to the garage and get into the van. Somehow I managed to keep my shaking to a manageable tremor and get the shopping done. I walked past the chilled 20 oz. bottles of Diet Coke and the tempting cookies near the bakery. They weren’t on the list. I bought only what was on the list and I hightailed it out of there.
I have been checking the lights on Safety Sal ever since. There has never been another instance (that I have seen) of the light not being on. It’s either green or red as expected. When I got home I popped a bag of popcorn, pulled out my bottle for the day, and put on another movie. It’s hard to want to be productive when you’re about to have a stroke from irrational fears.
I was jumpy all day and even admitted to the boys what happened. They agreed that was weird. Parker started talking about the Crazy Clown Craze from October. I guess he thought one scary story deserved another. Gavin didn’t tell me I was insane. I am but he’s nice enough not to say it. He did say that he is never afraid when he’s alone because he prays.
My evening meeting went from a 90 minute deal to a one on one 30 minute chat. It was nice to talk to the Relief Society president that way. I just felt bad that I had made plans for a friend to take Gwen to and from Activity Days. I could have taken Gwen to the church no problem and I could have even picked her up too. I got home from my meeting way before Gwen did. I was extremely grateful that I was home though. I did not want to leave my kids alone too long being as jumpy as I was.
The Bogeyman must have been satisfied with two days of scaring the pants off of me. Nothing happened today. The last day is the longest but also tends to be the easiest. I know Heath is in the air on his way home. He should land late enough he will miss traffic. I can’t wait to see him. I am seriously exhausted. It has been a long two weeks. Good news is I get to do it again in a couple of months!