Short Creative Non-Fiction
By Lynn Donovan
If I hadn’t been standing in the entry way in my baby-doll pajamas, pounding on the ceiling with my shoe to get a cricket to stop chirping, I wouldn’t have noticed the front door standing wide open.It was eleven o’clock at night and my parents were not home. They had gone out with their friends for drinks and camaraderie, or whatever it was they got out of being with their boisterous buddies at a place called Polly’s Pub. I was sixteen. Well past the age of needing a babysitter.
Yet, here I stood, shoe in hand, arms raised over my head, trying to silence a cricket, unaware the front door stood open. The street was silent, but my dog suddenly, fearfully barked and I jumped. Oh God! Where was he? I looked at the gaping door. Should I step outside to look for him? I couldn’t move. His muffled bark came from the direction of the kitchen. The pantry, perhaps?
OH GOD, someone was in the house and had put him in the pantry! And here I was, in skimpy pajamas, all alone. I ran to my parents’ bedroom and fumbled through the phone book. Tears soaked the yellow page ads as I searched for the Pub’s phone number. At last, I found it and pushed the numbers. Polly answered. I forced myself to speak clearly.
“May I please speak to Everett Bryan, this is his daughter.”
When daddy came on the phone, I lost it. “Daddy? There’s somebody in the house,” my octave peaked, “and I don’t know where Gaylord is, I heard him bark, but I can’t find him. I’m in your bedroom, and I’m really scared. Can y’all come home? Please!”
He chuckled but agreed.
Rocking back and forth, I sat on their bed and stared out the window for their headlights. An eternity pasted in the darkness of that window. Finally, their car pulled into the driveway and I ran down the hallway.
“Come on Gaylord!” my dad said.
The beagle ran into the house, ahead of them, tail wagging and happy to be let in.
“Where was he?” I cried.
“In the garage.” Daddy laughed.
“I thought he was in the pantry!” I said, fighting the temptation to hug my dad. “How’d he get in the garage?”
“I don’t know. I guess you heard him at the door.” Dad said with a dismissive shrug.
The door leading into the garage was next to the pantry door, I supposed it did make sense. Still, how did the front door get open? They didn’t seem any too concerned. So we all settled into bed.
I slid under my pink and white gingham comforter and listened to every unfamiliar creek of the house. I couldn’t sleep. Even the crickets were silent now. Were they scared too? Did they know something was wrong? Why were my parents so calm? The front door had come open, somehow. Gaylord was in the garage. Something wasn’t right.
Then I heard it.
The crickets’ rhythmic chirping began again. They were mocking me in my fearful, sleepless state. I turned on my side, covered my ears and cried. I was alone in my fear. I was alone in my consciousness that something was wrong. But what?
I never knew. Not then. Not now. But every time I hear crickets’ chirping, I think of that terrifying night. And wonder—
Who opened that front door?