Startled, I sat up in bed.  “Scott–did you hear that?  I just heard glass breaking,” I whispered.  My heart was pounding uncontrollably.  Living in a 227-year-old house, I’m well-accustomed to the quirky noises that it makes, but this was different.

     “You were dreaming.  It’s nothing,” he assured me.

     “I was not dreaming,” I hissed.  I heard glass breaking….I’m sure of it!”

     “It’s probably nothing,” he said dismissively.

     Scott wasn’t taking this seriously, probably because he hadn’t heard the noise.  But, I was totally panicked. Let me just say, the frontal lobe of my brain, you know–the area where rational thought and logic live…..well, mine had completely. shut. down.  I was now guided by the oldest part of the brain, sometimes referred to as the reptilian brain…the one in charge of fight or flight.  I stated again, in as serious of a tone as I could muster, “I know I heard something.”

     Scott got out of bed, rolled his eyes, and huffed for good measure as he started to walk downstairs, when I implored him to wait.  “Aren’t you going to put on some clothes?” I asked incredulously.

     I certainly was not going downstairs half-naked….and unarmed. Stumbling as I clumsily pulled on my jeans and looked for a pair of slip-on shoes (just in case flight became necessary), I thought, “What can we use to defend ourselves?”  I looked at Scott as he stood there in his boxers, t-shirt, and breath-right nose strip waiting for me to give the go-ahead.  “Well, at least grab your phone, I snipped.”

     Because the 60-year-old shotgun Dad loaned us for scaring foxes out of the sheep paddock wasn’t at hand, I quickly scanned the hallway for some sort of weapon while Scott got his phone.  My eyes landed on an antique brick in front of our bedroom door.  “Here, I said quietly, pointing toward the brick—take this.”

     After exhausting potential weapon options in the hallway, I stepped back into the bedroom.  My eyes glanced around taking inventory:  suitcases, clothes, lamps, treadmill, books…. I frantically looked for anything with which I could defend myself when I finally noticed a corkscrew from Poggio Amorelli, a winery in Chianti that Scott and I had just visited days earlier on our anniversary trip to Tuscany, setting on a dresser.  It was the best I could do.  I grabbed the corkscrew and opened it.  “Okay, I’m ready.”

     We descended the stairs, brick and corkscrew in one hand and phones in the other.  My heart was pounding so loudly that all I could hear was its loud percussion in my ears.  As I stated earlier, my reptilian brain was now in charge.  Feeling scared and wondering if someone was awaiting us downstairs, I started to dial 911.  I thought I could at least enter the numbers and hit dial if needed.  But, I forgot this wasn’t my cell phone.  It was the house phone.  As soon as I realized my error, I tried to hang up before the call went through to the operator.

     Scott snapped, “You’re not calling 911 are you?

     What I wanted to say was, “Well, yes, I am, because I think I’m about to die. And, I’m baffled by your lack of commitment to my survival plan. And by the way, your nonchalant attitude is really starting to bug me.”  But, what I answered with instead was, “I think I hung up in time.”  Two seconds later, the phone rang.  It was a 911 operator, asking if I had just called.  I explained what was happening:  I’d heard glass breaking and was now walking from room to room checking if someone was in the house.  I hadn’t meant for the call to go through…I was just terrified. As I walked through the house in an unbelievable state of panic, I got to add just a little bit more anxiety to the mix, because I could also hear Scott, grumbling and groaning in the background that I had called 911……I felt like I was in hell.

     I shared with the 911 operator that my husband was annoyed that I had called, and I apologized for wasting the operator’s time.  He was very patient and encouraged me to stay on the phone until I felt the house was safe.  After what seemed like forever, Scott yelled down from the upstairs bathroom, saying he’d found the culprit of the noise.  Apparently, the little suction-cup-hook-thing, where the bath loofah hangs, had fallen and bounced against the glass doors of the shower; thus, creating the sound of breaking glass.  I told the operator of our discovery, thanked him again for his understanding and patience, and hung up the phone.

     I was feeling a sea of emotions, but mainly relief at knowing I was going to live.  My nerves were still shattered, though.  As I climbed back into bed, I began to cry—mainly as a release from my anxiety.  As he rolled over to comfort me, Scott asked, “You know they’re going to come out here and check on us now don’t you?”

     We fell back to sleep for about 20 minutes until bright lights shining through our bedroom windows awakened us.  At 3:00 a.m., the doorbell rang, and once again, I was stumbling around looking for clothing. A deputy sheriff was dutifully standing at our front door waiting on us to open it.  The front door requires an old, skeleton key to shift the lock from the inside, and I hadn’t been able to find my house keys since we’d gotten home.  So, I went to the kitchen door and walked onto the porch to greet him.  I introduced myself and apologized for the false alarm.  The deputy said he was from the sheriff’s department and went on to explain that he had to come out to make sure we were okay, especially since someone could’ve been holding a gun to our heads.

     At this point, I was exhausted, stressed-out, and a little bit embarrassed.  So, naturally, I went on a Tonya Talking Tangent, which usually involves talking fast, going-off in all topical directions with too much information, and a lot of gesturing.  I tried to explain that we had just gotten home from Italy two days ago, and we were really tired.  And Scott hadn’t heard the noise, but I had.  And, I’d panicked.  The deputy smiled and listened politely as I made my excuses.  His eyes were kind when he asked if we’d enjoyed Italy.  Answering with an enthusiastic, yes, I gestured and turned to see out of the corner of my eye, a mountain of bedding draped across a wicker rocking chair in the sunroom–at least seven layers worth.  Now, I was ashamed that a sheriff’s deputy was standing in my kitchen and my house was a wreck.  I went on to tell him that while we were in Tuscany, my beloved cat, Clementine peed on our guest bed, requiring me to wash mattress pads and duvet covers…and that is why the sunroom was a mess.

I was feeling light-headed by the time I’d finished rattling on about our Tuscan holiday and peeing cats, most likely due to the fact that I hadn’t drawn breath since I started talking.  Anyway, we all chatted for a few more minutes about Italy and laughed about our makeshift weapons.  The officer asked for our date of births and checked again if we were alright.  We said, we were okay…..but, I didn’t feel okay.  I felt as though I were in some sort of curious episode of The Twilight Zone featuring Tuscany, peeing cats, corkscrews, sheriff’s deputies, and annoyed husbands.  Although I made him laugh, I’m sure the officer thought I was a lunatic.

     Here’s the thing:  I wasn’t a lunatic.  I was just shattered due to exhaustion and terrified that an intruder may have been in our house.  What a way to transition back home after a relaxing and lovely time in Tuscany!  You know, I think I may need that corkscrew after all. 😉





Categories: Short Story, Travel

Tagged as: , ,


  1. Ah, bless! I don’t blame you for feeling anxious, Tonya. It’s good that you can write about it in a humorous way, but I’m sure when you were going through it the emotions were raw and frightening. I’m glad it all turned out okay, dear! Cher xo

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Fantastic post! Completely relatable! Especially the Tonya Tangent Speak!
    Last time that happened to me, we had our bedroom and the nursery in the basement. ONLY ONE WAY OUT. In our case, one of the cats had somehow overturned the dish drainer. Much broken glass, but otherwise, we were safe. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ha ha! poor farm dude. I’m not sure I’d let you on to our collective during the zombie apocalypse. I’m not sure the corkscrew would be much of a weapon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hysterical! Especially since I know you and can hear your actual voice in my head, not just your excellent writing voice! Hey this kind of thing could happen to any of us, and YES, the suction cup thingy falling off the wall does make quite a racket. I hope you are making better use of that corkscrew!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Judy. I always value and appreciate your kind feedback. I did feel a bit silly about getting so panicked, but I was already really tired and somewhat anxious anyway. That combination is never helpful for rational thinking. And, yes! I’m definitely making better use of that corkscrew. 🙂
      Looking forward to visiting with you soon!


  5. Very happy that it turned out to be a funny story! I love the explanation of the parts of the brain, too! Made me smile 🙂 So happy you had a wonderful trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad you all are ok. Loved the way you told this story! Recently I set off our buglar alarm with a champagne cork when I was opening up a bottle of champagne. Luckily the police did not come to our house because I would have had one heck of a time explaining that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s really nice! Thank you, Becky. It was anything BUT funny while it was happening, but Scott and I had a good laugh the next day. I can see how a Champagne cork could set off an alarm. They can certainly be loud! At least you didn’t attract law enforcement. 😉


  7. That was hilarious. I enjoyed reading it. Reminds me of the year I was driving to UVA for a night class and getting home at midnight. I heard noises outside along the deck. I finally figured out it was our beagle walking on a pile of boards.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is one of those stories that are funny in hindsight but not so much when you’re living it..:)
    Glad everyone is ok. I wonder what stories the officer told when he got back to the station that night/morning😊

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What an adventure! I am glad you are all safe and sound. Your sheriff is indeed efficient and am glad he checked up on you guys the next day. Great policing support. Happy restful Saturday. Garfield hugs Farmgirl!☺

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I would have been terrified too Tonya, I also would have grabbed for a ‘weapon’ to clout the culprit with. I am happy that it all worked out ok in the end and all credit to the police for coming out anyway, even if he did think you were a nutcase!
    I bet that wine went down a treat after that ordeal!!

    Liked by 1 person

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