I groan as I open my eyes at 2:30 am, frustrated to be woken from what felt like a deep slumber. I roll out of bed to walk down the hall to the bathroom, a familiar and quick route. The bathroom is located beside our daughter Cate’s room, a space that has been eerily quiet all summer long because of her absence. Cate works at a camp far north of the city in which we live. She is happily planning activities, singing campfire songs, and living amongst the trees, lake and stars until her return at the very end of August. Until then, her door is kept shut, mostly so the air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard, but also to hide the stack of boxes for her impending move away from home. I peek inside occasionally, recently noting that I need to remember to close her window.
In the darkness of the bathroom it takes a moment for my vision to adjust. I grab a Kleenex and reach for a cup on the windowsill. As I go to turn the tap on, I become aware of a lot of noise, wondering what is going on outside. I listen, only to realize the noise is actually coming from the room right next to me- Cate’s room. Suddenly, I am fully awake. I lean my head on the wall and think to myself, “someone or something is in there and I know it is not Cate”.
My stomach begins to turn while all of my senses shift to high alert. What do I do? At this point in the story many people suggest that running would have been the best option. To which, in retrospect I tend to agree. However, I chose to make some noise of my own. I turn on the hall light, stomp around, and use my fist to make one loud thump on Cate’s door. Then I stop to listen, only to hear the other activity intensify. I begin to quietly pace, my heart racing. What do I DO?
Suddenly I hear what I feel certain is the little porcelain dish in the corner of Cate’s desk spinning. I hold my breath as I listen to it go around and around, until it slows to a stop. With that, the house goes quiet. I can’t recall how long it takes for me to work up the courage to open the door. I have to push it, as boxes are strewn about and now blocking the way. The screen from the window is on the floor, the gauze-like curtains torn and blowing in the breeze, a side-table now literally on its side. I survey the room, checking to see if any of its contents are now missing. Beyond the mess, all seems intact.
As I get on a chair to put the screen back in the window, I notice what must have been a long-forgotten and tucked away solid chocolate Easter Bunny, now on the floor, out of its package and gnawed in half. As I peer more closely, I can see familiar marks in the chocolate. And then comes a wave of recognition:
The intruder was a raccoon.