My friends think I am part cat or was one in my last life. This comes not from my need to lick my feet but more from my ability to sleep anywhere, at any time and in what looks to others like a very uncomfortable or unnatural position.
Last night, I fell asleep on the couch. My couch is my second bed and not a rare place to find me dozing at different hours and ends of the day. In this case, I'd dozed off around 8pm-ish while playing twelve simultaneous games of Words With Friends. This was one of those times when I zzz'd without actually dropping my phone on my head. Again like a cat, waking startled and looking for someone else to blame usually accompanies that ka-thump.
It was just on the pumpkin-turning hour when my mind was swimming between awake and asleep that the movement of the shadows on the wall seemed somehow wrong to me. That feeling of pulling yourself almost drowning through the surface of the water held me more on the sleepy side of awake. That further added to how much the shadows confused. Then my brain kicked in and it wasn't in that newly woken state but driven by an intravenous coffee with Red Bull hit of adrenaline. Bam!
Now I was awake but very still and lying where my mind had exploded but my body was only following limply. The shadows were still shadows. They were cast by the outside light through the two double paned windows and on to the opposing inside wall. My windows are tall and wide with a divider between each two paned set. That line was hard and fast in the shadow.
It took less time for me to realise why the shadows were changing than it did for me to regain full consciousness. Raw fear will do that to a person.
Moving slowly from one thinly curtained window to the next was the silhouette of a man. He bobbed towards the glass and then away as he avoided the potted plants that interrupted his irregular pacing back and forth.
Then my mind realised that he wasn't pacing. He was trying the different windows. The movable glass panels were shut to keep the horrid hay fever inducing pollen out and that was why I couldn't hear him rattling at the edges until I focused my senses on the sound.
My couch sits against the wall that the windows are in. The high green leathered back meant that I was hidden from his view. The lacy inner curtains were all that were drawn so he would have seen in but without any detail. That lack of detail meant he couldn't have seen me lying in a dark room snuggled in to the forrest green leather of the couch.
I was invisible.
I was invisible at least until I moved from the couch and then there was little doubt that he would see me. Even crawling across the floor wouldn't have protected me from view. Sometimes minimalism is not as convenient as it should be.
The window shook now. Not rattled like before. He was using force.
I shook in disagreement.
The shadow moved violently and a strained metallic aching sound groaned in my general direction. I felt safer because the windows were fighting back.
Then like a bad horror movie just after the scene where they say "let's split up" and actually go ahead with that idea, my mobile phone rang. It was very much a spring-loaded cat moment and if it wasn't for the shrill whistle of my Kill Bill ringtone that seems so funky in a crowded bar, my squeal would have been very obvious.
Every single thing in that moment froze. He froze. I froze. Everyone but the phone was taking this moment seriously.
Without really thinking it through, I picked up the phone and said very loudly "Hi Mum, I was just asleep. Are you almost here? I'm not ready yet but I will be."
With that, I jumped off the couch and casually walked to the light switch and turned all the lights on.
The shadows on the wall disappeared but I could still see his still body trying to hide behind the window divider. I continued to talk in a relaxed and booming voice as he fled.
My friend on the phone was freaking out a little as I calmly and numbly but with no breath or punctuation explained what had just happened. She was simultaneously dialling the police on her other mobile while she assisted my tripping sentences with profanity as punctuation.
It was all ok in the end. The combination of the defiant fighting windows, the opportune (for me) phone call and the Kill Bill soundtrack seemed to be enough to chase my shadow friend away.
Whether or not he returns, we can't yet know. I sure hope not.
One thing I am sure about is that I'll never wake to a worrying shadow and dismiss it as a trick of the tired mind again. And honestly, I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing.
[Update: This is fiction written for Halloween]