The creaks of certain floorboards.
The air whooshing from the ceiling fan that is always on in the den.
The squeak the front door makes because it needs to be oiled, though you only think to do it when you are running out of it to do errands or take the kids somewhere.
The soothing tick-tock of the clock in the front room.
That irritating bang of the screen door every time the kids run through it.
Sounds are even more intimate in the middle of the night.
The sound of your sleeping neighborhood through a cracked window.
The way the bathtub will drip, drip, drip in the middle of the night for no reason.
The tree branch gently scratching the side of the house when there’s a breeze.
The sound of your child’s foot hitting the wall as they roll over in bed.
Those pops and sighs the house makes as it settles in for the night.
And sometimes you notice a sound that is out of place.
You hear the door that separates the garage from the kitchen slowly being opened.
It’s not a loud sound; it’s a soft click and moan, as if the door is giving up its responsibility to keep the outside out (or the inside in).
Maybe you are laying in bed sleeping, or more correctly, you realize that you are not quite asleep, but not quite awake either.
Your mind is somewhere in between awareness and dreams.
While you don’t move a muscle, your eyes immediately pop open and you stare into the darkness.
Your mind is wide awake now.
I thought I locked the door.
My husband is supposed to be at work – maybe he’s home early.
But he never comes in through that door.
Maybe I didn’t hear anything, maybe I was dreaming.
I know I locked the door, I remember doing it.
I did do it, right?
You listen intently as you stare into the dark, the silence now screaming in your ears.
I don’t hear anything now, why am I scaring myself?
I know I locked the door.
See? No more sounds. I must’ve been dreaming.
And just when you think that you have talked yourself out of hearing the door opening, a footstep falls on the bottom stair.
It is then that your body is flooded with a fear that you had always hoped never to know.
You can find more of my fiction here.