It’s something you never think will happen to you. Your entire life has been spent in a cocoon of privilege, in a land of minivans and green soccer fields and semi-suburban tranquility. You’ve never known honest to God, piss your pants fear.
And then something shatters that. In an instant, your whole life changes.
Saturday, 15 January 2012, 6:00 PM
It is dark outside already. Red is at work. Both Boo and I have been napping. Something wakes me. All the lights in the house are off, but the streetlight in the backyard shines in through the cracks in the blinds. I can see the outline of a person on my back porch. Someone starts pounding on my door.
BANG. BANG. BANG. BANGBANGBANGBANGBANG.
The glass in the doorframe rattles under the blows. The shape retreats and reappears near my bedroom window. I assume the neighbor’s kids are playing the backyard again. I grab a jacket and start walking toward the front door, thinking they’re here to try and sell me another newspaper subscription. I get as far as the kitchen table.
The door frame shatters.
I start screaming. Deep, guttural, terrified noises erupt from my throat. Once. Twice. Then one unending, ululating wail. I run to Boo’s room, scoop him out of bed, and sprint to the front door. I find myself in my driveway. I am barefoot, not wearing glasses, and have nowhere to go. It’s close to freezing outside. I’m still screaming. For help, please God, SOMEONE HELP ME! HELP ME!
I see a shadowy figure across the street, a man, I think. He screams at me. I can’t hear him because I’m still shouting. My ears are ringing. He yells at me again. WHAT IS WRONG?
My house! Someone just tried to break into my house! Help me!
He runs across the street and grabs my arm. He leads me into his house and tells a woman to call 911. I’m trembling so hard that I stammer when I try to talk. Boo is still clutched against my chest. I realize I’m holding him so tightly that it might be hurting him. I relax my grip on him as the woman helps me sit down on the couch. She asks me my name as she’s dialing the phone.
The man grabs a flashlight and leaves to see if there’s anyone outside my house. I ask him to check on my cat, because oddly, now that I know that Boo and I are out of danger, that’s the only thing I’m worried about. I know he’ll be scared. I’m afraid he’ll try to go outside and come find me.
Fifteen minutes later, we see a single police car spotlighting the houses down the block. I grab Boo up again and meet the officer on the street. Five minutes later, the house is clear and I can hear my cat yowling from somewhere inside. I knock on my own front door and ask if I can please come in because my feet are cold. The officer tells me I can. I find the cat. He’s huddled in a tight little ball in a corner under the kitchen table.
I give my statement to the police. Call my landlord, my parents, and finally Red. He left his phone at home that afternoon before work, so I use the commercial number that connects straight to an agent in his office. I know I’m not making any sense while I’m explaining why I need to speak to Red, but I finally get it out and then Red is talking to me. I tell him to come home. Come home now. Come home, someone tried to break into our house. Come home now. We need you.
The police officer who took my statement comes through the shattered backdoor and tells me he’s going to pull his car around front. I tell him my dad is on his way. I also tell him that my dad is bringing a pistol. The officer gives me a funny look and nods. He goes back outside.
Fifteen minutes later, Red gets home. My landlord arrives. My parents arrive. I fall into my mothers arms and start weeping. Up until this point, I have not cried. She holds me. My dad holds me. Red holds me. Suddenly I know I am safe again. I am still shaking.
The whole thing is one big run-on sentence that has been playing non-stop on a loop through my head for the last two days. I’m mostly okay when it’s light outside. When darkness comes, so does the worrying. The fear prickles up the back of my neck and clenches my gut. I am literally physically sick with worry. Every noise makes me jump.
Everyone says I’m safe now, that no one would pull something like this again after they’ve almost been caught. But I’m afraid they–whoever they are–will come back for me. Maybe they think I saw something and they need to shut me up. I can’t help but thing that way. That’s the way my mind works. It goes to the darkest place possible and wrestles with whatever ugly demon it finds there.
We were lucky, though. My screaming scared the intruder off. He wasn’t even able to get the door all the way open because my cat’s litter box is wedged there, between the door and our stationary bike.
Nothing was taken. No one was hurt. I am safe. My son is safe. Red will keep us safe when he’s home and the alarm system will keep us safe when he is not. We have weapons in the house–always have–and I’m confident I can use them to defend myself and my own if need be. I always have my cell phone in my pocket now, next to my keys and my panic button.
Like I said, nothing was taken. Nothing but my peace of mind.
Edited to add: The unit next door was broken into, too, but it’s vacant right now so there wasn’t anything to take. Since I’m pretty sure there was only one person, the police think this was a snatch and grab type of incident, where the perp looks for easy to carry items like laptops and jewelry that they can easily resell. That doesn’t matter to me, though. I hope they catch the motherfuckers. I hope they are punished to the fullest extent of the law. And I hope their cellmate is fond of petty thieves, if you know what I mean.
***UPDATE, 19 January 2012*** Two plainclothes detectives came to our door tonight to talk to me about what happened last Saturday. After asking to see some identification (because I’m super paranoid now), I showed them around the house and recapped what had happened. After I gave my statement, they told me that I could probably sleep a little more soundly because they believed they had the person responsible in custody.
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, y’all.
That’s some damn fine police work. I couldn’t be more grateful to the men and women who have worked to put this son of a bitch behind bars. Given that I was unable to provide a physical description of the subject, I’m pretty sure this incident was connected to some other home invasions that have taken place around town. Honestly, I don’t care how they did it. I’m just happy to have a little closure.