One of the worst feelings is waking up in the middle of the night to the echo of a short, sharp CHIRP! I lay there in the dark and wonder Did I just hear that, or was it the echo of a dream? I am about to drift back off to sleep when–CHIRP!–there it goes again, and now I am off on a nighttime hunt for the offending smoke detector. It is never the one you think it is. It always turns out to be the one most inconveniently located–which is also the one that I’m certain I just changed the batteries on last month. It takes an hour to get back to sleep.
Last night, I woke up in darkness to the sound of two faint beeps. What could that be? It’s disturbing to hear noises at night you don’t recognize. I waited for them to repeat. They didn’t. I finally decided it was the sound of someone locking their car remotely somewhere up the street.
Our ducts tick when the heat is on. I’ll sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of that ticking. It is not disturbing at all. In fact, it is kind of comforting. It is a reminder that I am warm, even though it is cold outside.
One of the more alarming night noises is the sound of little feet pounding on the hardwood floors. From the frequency of the pattering, I can tell not only who it is, but whether it is a serious problem, or just the little one wanting to climb into bed with us. Worse is a sound I heard a few nights ago. It was a loud THUD from the room next door. I lay there for a moment wondering if I actually heard the sound. Then I wondered what it might be. Finally, as the realization flooded in, I felt a surge of adrenaline and burst out of bed to find that the little one had fallen out of her bed onto the floor. She was in a bit of a daze, and probably would have been fine, if I hadn’t freaked her out by pointing out that she’d fallen out of bed.
Once, in the old house, we all awoke in the middle of the night when the house alarm went off. A minute later the phone rang. It was the alarm company, checking to make sure everyone was alright. The back gate was open, but I also noticed it was very windy out. I chalked it up to the wind, but it was a long while before I got back to sleep.
Maybe the worst sound in the middle of the night is the rare occasion when I awaken to the sound of someone whispering my name. Logically, I know it was just the echo of a dream. Even so, I look over to see if Kelly is sleeping. I get up and check on the kids to see if one of them called me. Then I get back into bed and my imagination starts to run wild. I remember that scene from Communion where the alien is peeking out of the closet and slowly tries to disappear back inside.
Andy Rooney has pointed out that the house creeks more at night than during the day. I won’t say that this is scientifically true, but it seems like it is.
On once woke up to the sound of an old manual typewriter ticking away in the middle of the night. I could find no ghost writer roaming the house, but when I got back into bed, the idea stayed with me and ultimately found its way into a story.