I am lying in bed, reading a book about anxiety which was a (semi) tongue-in-cheek Christmas present about a woman who is anxious.
A bus thunders along our road and, in its wake, I hear the very distinctive sound of a metal clasp on a glass bottle being opened. It sounds like it is in our house, I think, but reason that is madness. I resume reading my Little Book of Anxiety as Benny shifts around at the foot of the bed.
The pages of my book sound very loud in the quiet night. I roll onto my side and MindReader stirs.
I sit bolt upright. There is another sound downstairs; the sound of metal hitting our wooden flooring. Benny’s alarmed eyes meet mine. He heard it too! It sounded like some keys being dropped. The keys were in the door!
It cannot be the neighbours. It’s not outside.
Adrenaline zaps through my system as I realise the truth: there is someone in the house.
I lie back down very slowly, my eyes like saucers, staring at our bedroom door. I can hear my heart beating in my ears. There is someone in the house. I have thought often of this happening to me (sometimes even imagined it) and now it is happening.
Benny looks impassively back at me and soon goes back to sleep.
I lie rigidly in the bed. I can hear something in the distance. I stop breathing, straining to hear. It is – it is a helicopter!
Adrenaline shoots from my stomach and down my arms again. There is a helicopter. There is clearly a MURDERER ON THE LOOSE.
I can hear sirens. Ambulances. Police cars speeding up our road. There is a serial killer. He’s just killed again. And he’s using my house; hiding, here – in my pantry, probably.
I apply my lawyer brain to the situation: either I am happy to go back to sleep, or the situation needs to be investigated. Like most of my situations, I quickly decide on the latter.
As noble as I would like to believe I am, when it comes to it, I would really rather MindReader greet potential burglars, and so I spend a few minutes waking him.
“What?” MindReader eventually says, exasperated.
“You have to go downstairs,” I say. “There is a burglar.”
MindReader straightens his pillow, lies back down and closes his eyes.
“No. I am really, really sure there is someone downstairs. Shall I call the police?”
MindReader’s eyes snap open and he throws me a Seriously? look. I gesture to the landing and he gets up, butt naked, and goes downstairs.
I lie back down on the bed, fretting. I say a small prayer and hope that the burglar doesn’t have a gun. I hope that MindReader reacts calmly to the gun and gives the burglar our tele if he wants it. A few tears leak out of my eyes. I can’t even bring myself to read my anxiety book.
Benny is staring at me, embarrassed, but I ignore him as my stomach clenches. I see MindReader coming up the stairs.
“Is there a burglar???”
“I think I would’ve mentioned it.”
“Are there any signs of a forced entry?”
MindReader falls asleep immediately. I listen out for another hour, and decide I am content to house a hiding murderer if he is this quiet. I read my anxiety book. “Poor woman,” I think, as I turn a page. “She’s such a worrier!”