Since our family lived on 14 secluded acres outside the town limits of a small Northern community, our children would take the school bus to and from school. Once in a while, there would be nobody home when the bus dropped them off, so a key was hidden for their use.
It was unusual for any of the kids to ride the bus without one or more siblings, but circumstance saw our eldest son Steven dropped off by himself one cold winter afternoon and seeing both vehicles gone from the driveway, he assumed he was completely on his own. He rang the doorbell to make sure and then used the extra key to let himself in the house.
Unbeknownst to him, one of the cars was in the shop being serviced and I was actually home, hunkered down and asleep and thoroughly concealed on the big leather couch in the living room that was adjacent to our large, open-air kitchen. Being 7 months pregnant, I was prone to spontaneous naps.
A typical teenager, Steven headed straight for the kitchen and began foraging for food. I groggily awoke to the clatter and without lifting myself up, I spoke out, my voice thick and raspy from sleep, sounding like Linda Blair from The Exorcist, “Where’s your brother?”
A sudden, eerie hush fell over the room and then, after a few moments a cautious rustling of a cookie package cut into the silence. Once again, I croaked out a sleepy, “Where’s your brother?”
The cupboard door slammed shut and a deathly quiet hung in the air. Peering over the couch, I was about to ask my son why he wasn’t answering, when, to my surprise, I saw him backed up against the fridge, his pale white face staring at our cat, Olly, who was sitting and yawning nonchalantly on the floor. Looking up at me, Steven's color returned in full force as he stuttered in obvious relief, “Mom! I thought Olly was talking to me!”
When had first heard that disembodied voice ask about his brother, he had looked about only to see Olly lying on the kitchen floor, staring up at him thoughtfully. He reasoned that he must have been imagining things and continued his rummaging about when he heard the creepy voice ask for his brother again and he turned to see the cat with her mouth wide open, looking as if she’d just asked the question!
A wise woman once said: Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth. May I add: Never give them the key to the house either.