I woke up drenched in sweat, sure that something serious had jarred me from my dreams. I was about to displace my worry when I heard the shuffle and quiet. It was impossible to blame imagination even amid darkness. I was accommodating a thief! I made little movement on my bed while calculating my risks and tactics to subdue the idiot in my house. Only God knows what he came to steal. The myth that one’s senses heighten in darkness is true, as I could hear my breathing. The shuffle sounded again, and I almost chuckled. The idiot was stealing my biscuits also. I held down the hyperventilation threatening my lungs, channelling my thoughts to the best place to pick up a weapon of defense and offense. Knife? No. The thief was in my kitchen. Shoe? It would probably knock him down, but not senseless. Umbrella? It was at the door. It was impossible to reach the door of my little room and parlor home without alerting the thief. My line of action was to stretch my hands to my nightstand and pick up my phone to switch on its torch, but it did not respond. The battery was flat.
I almost screamed in frustration and did not want to give the thief a heads-up about my action. My breathing had stabilized, yet there was no way I could get to the offender without light. I faced the consequence of watching that YouTube video until my phone was 4%. Joe had married Kate, and I was in trouble with no means of defense. I closed my eyes and visualized my room with my mind. I was on the bed with a pink floral pattern bedspread, two pillows, and the left side of the head of my mahogany bedstand, a nightstand. My best friend thought my sheet was too girly. Who cared? I am a girl, right? Yes! I am a girl much more vulnerable to the intruder. The hyperventilation crept up my throat once more as I imagined different scenarios this could end. None was good, and there was no way I could pretend all was well till morning. He could harm me in my bed.
The next sound was a smashing, and I almost shrieked. He was an angry intruder. No way was I going to allow him to meet me in bed. Too tempting for an angry man. I sat up and dragged my wrapper to my chest. “Jesus”, I called seven times before closing my eyes and letting my mind do the work. My brown fan hung in the middle of my room with a white bulb hanging to its left from a white ceiling. All walls had sky blue paint with floral designs on opposite walls. I had only one window at the head of my bed, a reason my room got too hot this season. On the wall opposite my bed hung my wardrobe. It was ajar. Getting down from the bed that way would alert the intruder. The left was also out of the question. I arranged my shoes there and a few of my cosmetics. The right side of the bed was my escape route then. I turned to my right, wiped the sweat dripping out of heat and fear, and dropped my legs to the floor.
I had not heard any sound for some seconds but knew the intruder had not left. I could not calm the racing thoughts telling me he was coming my way. My eyes shone, and though I could not see in the darkness, it was not difficult to locate my door. Then I remembered I had not gotten a weapon. Tracing the smooth wall beside the door, I sat on the floor and began feeling for any sharp object I could find. Something must paralyze him. Pinpoint heel would do something before I pick up a knife and scream. Of course, I would shriek. That was my only way to call for help.
The next sound was more of a scratch that raised goosebumps on my skin. I doubted my false bravery this time. With one pair of heels at hand, feeling for the door again, I opened the door without a creek. My instincts told me the intruder was still in my kitchen. Walking with my imagination, I tiptoed into my corridor. At the end of the short walkway was my favorite black loveseat. I tiptoed the cream-colored walkway till I reached its end. I stepped into the room painted cream also. The three black cushions formed a semi-circle to face my mini television. There was a silver center table I moved beside the mini television last night while I ironed my Sunday gown. I remember I did not return it to its original position. A frame of me in my convocation gown sat on the right side of the television. It was a gift from my best friend, Sharon. The coldness of the sitting room greeted me, a sign I had left the two windows open again last night. The kitchen was to the left of the room. With quickened heartbeat, I approached the kitchen. I needed help. So, I prayed.
The first miracle was the flickering of the electricity. The sitting room was flooded with light for some seconds, giving me a view of the room with clothes draped on each cushion. I almost yelled in relief when darkness took over. The light flickered again, and my eyes found the umbrella close to the door before darkness prevailed again. I came down on all fours, wiped the stray sweat that had almost entered my eyes, and crawled to the door. I came back shivering out of fear yet armed with an umbrella. Another flickering before it became fixed. Had I been in my room, I would have plugged my phone.
There was more crashing and scratching. I was almost in tears, my stomach threatening to lose its contents. All these should not be happening to me. I am a good girl. I prayed so hard as I heard more crashing and scratching and sounds like my window curtain ripped. I couldn’t dissuade the thoughts of him doing the same to me.
My left hand cleaned the tears coming from my eyes while my other hand gripped the umbrella tight with the left leg of my pinpoint heel discarded on the floor. It was time to do something. Maybe run away. I sat down and calmed my racing heart by counting one to a hundred. At ten, I was already crawling back to my bedroom. At twenty, I was crawling back to the kitchen. Sleep would be hard to come by. I stood, switched on the light in my kitchen, and barged into the kitchen with my weapon before me. My kitchen was a mess. I shrieked with my full lungs, turned, and ran towards the door. As I opened it, the stupid cat got out first. My neighbors had come out with weapons in reaction to my cry. I was still holding my umbrella, and everyone saw the cat.
The only woman in their midst had begun praying. The men ran in to attack whoever could be remaining. Well, no one. They searched and discovered the windows in my kitchen were open, an invitation to the cat. He had a fill of his stomach and had turned my soup upside down.
It took a while to steady my breath. Paralyzed with fear, the reassurance of thirty minutes did nothing for me. They could not understand the mental images I was trying to pull down. The mental image I had spent one hour creating before I faced my fear. I had no one to blame except myself and my mother. That woman woke us to pray at every strange sound in our home. If I called her about the black cat, she would organize a seven-day vigil to sanctify the house.
Well, I am glad I faced the fear. I could not imagine living in the house with the memories of entertaining an intruder till morning. With all windows shut since that day, I also bought a solar lamp that automatically switches on when there is a power outage. I am not scared anymore. Just cautious. Light is my new weapon.