I'm a great believer that a good night's sleep can cure all ails. Alright maybe not everything, but if I'm feeling down, a bit under the weather or when I've just had a particularly punishing day that leaves me heading to bed with a thumping headache, a sound sleep will leave me feeling ready to deal with anything.
But what about when I can't sleep and sight's like are all too familiar...
A couple of weeks ago now (I think, it feels like a couple of weeks) I woke in the wee small hours convinced someone was trying to get into my house.
I heard a noise, a cracking and popping noise that I'd heard before years earlier at one of those "Why you need a security alarm" talks given by a salesman in the company I worked for at the time. I was only 16 and an office junior at the time, but had been asked to go along, take all the names and hand out tags and info packs. During the talk the salesman brought out two pvc double glazed windows and proceeded to carry out the demonstration that most pvc salesmen at the time were doing. He took a hammer and tried with all his might to break the window all to no avail, it cracked and cracked but remained in the frame and was bloody noisy into the bargain.
Then he turned to the second window and using a butter knife proceeded to pry the seals away from the edges of the frame*. Some of the clips holding the glass panel in place broke and made a cracking noise while others merely slipped from their slot with a soft pop. It was very quiet and a bit disturbing.
Not as disturbing as lying in bed 12 years later at something like 3am listening to the very same noises!
So now I'm wide awake, bolt upright in bed wearing my pink jammies. The only thing I can honestly say I heard was my own heartbeat as my blood pressure raced for the 100, but at the time I heard footsteps, outside on the gravel path at the front of my house and inside creaking on floorboards.
I got out of bed and lifted one of my new rocks from under the bed, a perfectly serviceable weapon in a pinch because it weighs half a ton and has a metal plate or six surrounding the sole. I carefully opened the bedroom door and looked down the stairs only to be faced with the familiar glow of a lamp shining from under the living door. I moved quickly and quietly down the stairs and along the hall before resting my hand on the, really rather rattly handle because Chloe swings on it, and I flung the door open wide.
Nothing, not a soul to be seen. I pulled the curtains back and checked the windows, locked and intact. I checked all the doors and every single room in the house thoroughly, nothing just quietly snoozing babes and husbands. I stood by the front door for what felt like an age with only the sounds of my only heart and ragged breath in my ears before setting the alarm and going back upstairs to lie staring at the ceiling until morning cursing Robert for having left a lamp on.
I haven't slept since. This is one noisy git of a house at 2am. It creaks and groans and pops and makes some of the weirdest sounds I've ever heard as it cools down for the night and warms up again after sunrise.
It's made me realise that something has changed. I've said again and again countless times that my house is like Fort Knox and yet in going on for seven years in this house I can count on one hand how many times I've set the alarm at night and I almost never set it during the day if I'll only be gone for 30 minutes (which I know from the experience of friends is just enough time to remove all valuables from a home, in fact it can be done in 12).
I always felt completely safe in this house, this street, even the entire neighbourhood but what bothered me most about that night is that at the time I didn't (even for the briefest moment) have a second thought about the fact that someone could be in my house. It seemed like it was just such a normal event. I was in a panic, don't get me wrong but the main thing running through my brain was "Someone's in my house! Fecker! Better go deal with it!". There was no quiet, barely heard voice saying "but that's absurd, that kind of thing doesn't happen around here". It just felt like it was a very plausible thing to happen.
I'll admit that the completely unshakable Leanne, is quite a bit shaken by this revelation enough to keep me up at night anyway.
It doesn't help matters that my husband clearly doesn't know how my mind works at all. The next morning, when I told him about the night before (slept right through it, couldn't wake him by setting a bomb off beside him), he could have made everything all better if he'd called me a daft bint or said I'd been watching too much Crimestoppers or something, but instead he said I was daft for having gone downstairs by myself, I should have woken him, he would have gone down with me (equality people, this is why your great granny burnt her bra!) . This leaves me with one conclusion. He thinks its perfectly plausible that someone could break into our home too.
So now I have the husband working at the alarm to make that silent timer a lot less silent. I want that alarm to scream its head off the very second someone comes in. I want it to wake people up and piss people off and for whoever it is downstairs to run out of here at break neck speed.
So now I set my alarm every night and I've even reverted to leaving bait like I used to when I rented in Belfast (that would a twenty, a phone and the car keys left sitting right at the front door with a "please take me and clear off" sign taped to them), then I walk upstairs, climb into bed, rub my eyes and settle in for a night of staring at the ceiling and wondering "What was that" as the house cools down...
*In the last five or six years the seals on pvc windows have been changed so that the seals are inside the house (common sense you would think) but prior to that quite a lot of windows had the seals on the outside.