A dark, looming figure standing at your garden gate at 6 am is not the first thing you want to see. Unfortunately, that’s the sight that greeted me this morning, through my bathroom window.
I was busily brushing my teeth when I noticed an unusual shape filling the space where the archway and gate’s outline is normally seen through the opaque glass. At first, I thought it might be my fuzzy imagination (I don’t function well at 6am), then my mind drifted to our neighbour who likes to stand outside our fence when watching his cute little dog go on a potty run. It didn’t bother me much for the first 30 seconds. Then my synapses fired up. I mentally measured the distance from our gate to the shape and the size of the figure compared to our neighbour’s familiar silhouette. My blood ran cold.
Swiping at my foamy mouth, I ran out the bathroom and into the children’s room which overlooks the front. There he was: black hoodie pulled over his head, white tracksuit bottoms and a red bicycle lying on the grass in front of our property. His body leaned over the gate while he furtively looked round, completely unobserved by our sleeping neighbours. My panic turned to anger. How dare he assume it was okay to enter our garden!
My hands shook as I pummeled the window pane, shaking my fist as he turned to see me standing watching him. Without breaking a sweat, he turned away from the gate and picked up his bicycle, pushing it slowly up the hill past my neighbour’s frosty fence. I screamed in frustration. Climbing over toy boxes inconveniently blocking access to the window handle, I scrambled to open the same before he disappeared. What I hoped to achieve by doing this, I have no idea. All I knew was that I had to get his attention and scream my frustration at his insolence.
My voice echoed over the forest as I yelled, “What the hell?” at his retreating figure. He was cheeky enough to keep walking and not run away as I would have done given a role reversal. So, leaping off the toy box, I ran down the stairs and out the front door, followed by my trusty security cats. Yes, in hindsight, I must have looked completely mad with a foaming mouth, crazy hair and my arms and legs exposed to the morning elements as I was only clothed in my pyjama shorts and vest. That, of course, did not deter my wrath as I chased the cats up the path and threatened to open the gate and chase the intruder. Common sense washed over me as I stood there, inspecting the direction he had taken and the surrounding darkness for his bulky shape. Suddenly, living next to a forest wasn’t as appealing. Shadows danced. The surrounding undergrowth rustled with unknown creatures lurking, watching, waiting. I shivered. My second eldest sprog was sleeping downstairs!
Running back into the house, my heart skipped a few beats. What if he was the distraction and his friend was in the garden? Who had checked the doors last night?
The living room was wrapped in darkness and the sliding door leading to the garden gaped open like a missing tooth. Where was she? Forgetting to use the lights, I let my hands do the searching. Thankfully, I found her. She was curled up into a ball at one end of the largest sofa – completely still. Fearing the worst, I shook her and screamed her name. Poor thing. She sprang up, thinking her mother had become completely unhinged! After a quick explanation, I asked her the standard questions: Are you okay? How long has this door been open? Did you hear any strange sounds outside? Why the hell are you sleeping with the door open? In a calm voice, she clarified that the cats had been annoying her from earlier that morning and she had just dozed off after getting up over a dozen times to let them out then back in. When she figured out the seriousness of the situation from my angry response to her calm retorts, she decided it might be safer to go upstairs and find a free bed with her siblings. I continued checking the downstairs, in case I had caught our visitor on his way out rather than in.
The kitchen had an eerie glow to it. It wasn’t rocket science to figure out why – my darling sprog had left the blinds open, exposing the kitchen contents to any passer by, including our unwanted visitor. Was this what had attracted him to attempt a break in? I fumed. My mind counted the number of times I had warned the hubble and sprogs to keep the blinds closed for this specific reason. That creepy view I normally enjoyed of the forest and the open skyline chilled me to the bone. Someone had been given free access to a room with a view. With a snap and click, the blinds were lowered and shut and the doors checked and locked, front and back.
You might wonder where everyone else was during all this mayhem. Well, the hubble was still asleep, given the alarm was meant to wake him up for work. The smaller sprogs were stood on the landing, freaked out at seeing me running like a bull through a china shop in my pursuit to threaten the retreating shadow and then rushing through the house, shouting at their sleeping sibling. After calming the youngest down and allowing him to jump into my bed to keep warm, I retold my tale to the now awake hubble. He rushed downstairs with his favourite hockey stick and did a sweep of the neighbourhood (in his pyjamas and wellington boots!) hoping to find the unlucky sucker who thought it was okay to invade our private space. Luckily, he didn’t find him and skulked home, disappointed.
We have recovered from the event and will be locking our doors tonight, just in case the perp decides a return visit is a must. My eldest sprog has threatened to call his friends, which I’ve had to caution against as the laws do not award vigilante behaviour. This experience has left me stirred but not shaken; instead, I’m glad he got away safely. Next time, he might not be so lucky!