We are petrified! Whichever way we go, we cannot escape it. For the past hour – make that forever – we have been rushing to the door and back, trying to get Mom to go out and check. But she seems ‘fraider than we are. She is going nowhere near the door. If we sit down to catch our breaths, it blows again. And we jump up, out of our skins. Something is wailing, the glass is rattling, and huge shadows are looming just outside the balcony door. And all the while Mom cannot care less. What if that – that – thing takes us away? We had put our lives on the line to save Mom from the alien (Close Encounters of the SnuZa Kind), and here Mom is not lifting a finger to rush to our aid. It would serve her right if that thing did take us away.
Finally Mom moves. She scoops us one at a time in her arms and allows us on her bed. Then she – of all things – laughs. She laughs at our “scaredy barks” as she calls them and our five-steps-back-one-step-forward charge at the looming shadow. We press close to her, gradually – because we have some self-respect after all. We can’t just go rushing to her as soon as she calls us. Eventually we do, but after various detours and more back and forth and barks. She caresses us and murmurs something about a gale and plants in the balcony swaying in it. We can barely hear her but at least she is shielding us from whatever it is that has come for us.
We can’t decide where in the hierarchy of scares this one fits. Our hearts pop out of our mouths when there is a loud, explosive ‘pop’, usually followed by a hoot of laughter and Mom’s ‘Stop it!’ It is directly connected to when the Folks go out and bring things back in little bags. Those bags can’t take the weight, we suppose, of their content. We once caught Big Sis trying to blow life into them. They end up dead, deflated with gaping open sides. Whenever Dad comes home after his travels, he has on leash a huge thingy that moves on tiny round paws. Nothing compared to our dashing paws and smart leashes, but it makes an annoying sound as it heaves towards us. It’s gross – you wouldn’t blame us for leaping as far from it as we do. A close relative we suppose is a roundish thing that bobs up and down. We have discovered that it is not worth our while to try grab the string dangling from it because it is going to die with a horrible hiss or an offending ‘phut’. It’s no comfort for us even if it hugs the ceiling. We have to put in overtime to ceaselessly snarl our warnings to it , in case it should die with a horrible hiss or an offending ‘phut’, or cause the ceiling to fall on our heads.
Let us tell you, you may think all those beeps and whines on your cars are cool but they are super horrible. How would you like it if you were sniffing at the most exciting smell around a tyre and suddenly something went eeoowwwwww? Nor do we much care for your weddings and those bright, smoky bangs. They are worse than the clatter and clang with which the cook startles us out of our sleep whenever she is at the sink.
But there is something more than these that scares us, more than the sudden slam of the door in eerily whistling wind, even more than ‘that’ look in Mom’s eye and tone in her voice on our less than perfect days. It is the click of the latch and the sound of the key in the lock that tell us our Folks have left the house – and us alone.