There are strange voices in my house. My brain registers this immediately. Men’s voices, of low register but not my husband’s. My heart does not so much thud against the rib cage but instead wedge itself there. It is pumping wildly while my brain tries to work out why I am hearing these non-husband voices in my home at 4 o’clock in the morning. They do not say words. At least I do not decipher words coming out of them. Imperceptible winches and cranes carry the sound throughout my home’s hallway and into my eardrums. The meanings are murky. Dangerous simply because I do not understand them.
I am immobilized. That is until I hear the thing that makes me move without thought. My son Lars’ voice rings out amidst them. A soprano, nimble and piercing, summoning me like magnetized current.
I am desperately pulling myself out of that place where waking meets sleep. Dragging my soggy conscience up from an ocean of dreams and wringing it out upon reality. I’m willing myself to be present because I do not know what will greet me once I get to the voices.
“What is going on? What?” I mutter as I round the corner out of my bedroom and into the fringe.
“Ma’am.” Says the police officer. “Don’t be alarmed.”
Huddled between three large men in uniform, is my nine-year-old son. “Your son called 911 tonight.” Lars is microscopic as he stands amidst these three large men in our front hall entry. He is a tadpole among giants.
“Oh my God, what happened?” It sounds stupid as it passes over my lips and into the moment. Is that all you can say, Lindsay? Is that all you can come up with? I am directing the question at Lars. I move towards him, touch his face, his hair, hold him in front of me like a shield to ward off the angst which has set up residence in my chest and abdomen.
“Sophie heard a voice downstairs. We called for you and Dad, but when you didn’t come, we got scared. So I called the cops.” His voice is strong at this moment. He sees that I am upset. “Mom, we were yelling for you. You didn’t answer. I didn’t know what else to do.” He does not cry. This is strange for Lars. Tears tend to be his first resort in high-pressure situations such as finding oneself in tight quarters with three police officers and having to explain the beckoning of their assistance in the wee hours of the morning.
I look at the officer closest to me without acknowledging what Lars has said. “I’m so sorry to have wasted your time.” Embarrassment tears through me. I know the kind of offense it is to make a false 911 call. “I have no idea why I didn’t hear them calling for me.” I feel as though I should be reprimanded, although I cannot quite put my finger on why.
“Don’t apologize. At least your son knows what to do in an emergency.” Says the officer.
The officers and I go through the usual information that you must go through when having police called to your home under false pretenses. Then they tell us to get some sleep and are on their way. They are kind and understanding. They have made us feel at ease in this uneasy situation.
I tuck my babies into bed. Both children are exhausted as I kiss them on the forehead. I ease through the 911 phone call talk. The same conversation I imagine many parent folks have had with their kids. I try not to sound menacing. My explanation is like tightrope walking. I try my hardest to explain that this number is for emergencies only but always to call it if in an emergency. I don’t know if they fully understand and all I can do is hope they grasp the severity of the situation.
They fall asleep quickly as children do. The excitement does not seem to disturb them as it does me and the even rise and fall of their breathing soon twirls up into the warm air above their beds. I take a good look around the basement where they sleep because I cannot shake free from my mind the “voices” Sophie heard that initiated this alarming event. My search comes up clear.
Strong black coffee now drips at flat intervals into the craft, and I mull over what has just happened. Sleep will not come to me this early morning. Right now it feels as though rest will never come to me again. Why didn’t I wake up to their calls for me? Why was I so ashamed of this situation I had no control over? Was it a dream which had awakened Sophie so abruptly? And was it so terrifying to warrant a call to the police?
Shadows reach out to me from lamplight crescents across the wall. The moonlight ambiance, the stillness of others sleep makes the state of affairs all the more strange and unnerving. I want to pick through the events, dissect them to discover their hidden layers. I want to uproot what has just happened. Lay it out for future clarification.
But now, as I tap the keys of this familiar keyboard, I come up blank on all accounts. I realize that this event is just another story that will be told in a year from now sitting around the family dinner table. Because this is what we do as families. We create histories. Legends that are said while sharing meals and company. Family stories.
Over my 33 years of life, I’ve thrown myself into many different vocations. However, raising a family has been the most difficult, rewarding, scary and exhilarating job yet. My coffee is strong and black as I type and rethink the events of this early morning wake up call and it makes me wonder what will be next in this strange yet forever exciting journey of life.