I opened my eyes and looked around the dark room. The curtains over the windows were drawn, but there was still the faint glow of the street lamp filtering through the fabric. Then I heard a creaking noise on the steps. That’s what must have wakened me. My sister who shared the room with me was away at college. So I couldn’t wake her up to ask if she’d heard anything nor solicit her assurance that it was nothing. I was there all by myself.
It wasn’t a constant creaking, and there seemed to be no set time lapse between the sounds. And then suddenly, it would stop. I concentrated on the silence, trying to pick up any other noises, but the house was quiet. A few interminable seconds passed while I waited for the next creak. I heard another one.
My heart began to race and I began to review all the possible sources for the noise. Must be a burglar. This was my first thought. But I was almost certain that the front and back doors were locked. Maybe the house itself was settling in or there had been some kind of construction error. We had just moved into this house a few months ago. Maybe it was just my imagination.
Then – another creak! I tried to calm down and focused on where the noise was coming from. It was definitely from below and I was sure someone was creeping up the stairs. After every creak there was a pause. He was probably listening to make sure we were all still asleep.
If this intruder was indeed walking up the stairs, I was directly in the line of fire. My bedroom was at the top of the stairs and the door was open. We never closed our bedroom doors. My bed, with me in it, would be the burglar’s first view when he reached the top of the stairs.
What should I do? Pretend that I’m asleep and unaware of his presence. What could I do? Not much. If I got up and warned my parents, whose bedroom was on the other side of the house, I was sure that the burglar would catch me before I reached their bedroom. So I decided to do nothing for the moment. Maybe the intruder would go away.
I lay still. There had been no noise for a while. Maybe he’s gone. But surely I would have heard a creak or two as he escaped. Nothing. Only silence.
Things seem to have quieted down. And I closed my eyes to try and go back to sleep. Maybe I was just imagining it. Then I heard another creak. Louder this time. It was getting closer. I wondered what step he’s on now. If it’s not a burglar, then Daddy should really contact the builders. This can’t continue to go on. And I’m too young to have my life ended by some stupid burglar. I drift off…
My eyes opened slowly and I tried to quickly reconnect with the present. It’s been silent for a while. I can risk going back to sleep. Tomorrow’s a school day and if I don’t get some sleep I’ll be tired. It’s funny, I was thinking about our old neighborhood. We really had some good times then. I guess the past sweeps through your mind when you think the end is nigh. Oh yes, “Day is done, gone the sun, from the lake from the hills from the skies. All is well, safely rest. God is nigh.”
It seemed like an eternity since the creaking first started. Now it was silent again. I decided to pluck up my courage and affront my would-be aggressor. Plus Mother Nature was calling me and I couldn’t wait any longer. I sat up in bed and quietly slipped out from under the sheet and the blanket. I sat on the edge of the bed and stopped to listen again. There it was again. That creak.
If someone was sneaking up the stairs, surely he would have already reached the top. I plucked up my courage. I tiptoed to the door. Another creak followed by a soft purring sound. Strange. I focused on the noise and realized it was coming from my brother’s room on the right. Wait. That was his bed creaking. And that was him breathing. I glanced toward the stairs just be sure. There was no one there.
Creaks in the Night. Copyright © 2014 by Theresa Nash. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.