The faint early morning light glows through the sheer curtains as I raise the blinds. I measure out the coffee. Press start. The little red light blinks on. Delightful. Padding out into the hallway in my soft furry socks, I open the window at the top of the stairs. The lace curtain billows and I pause to breathe in the fresh cold air.
A piercing sound seizes my brain — I whip around, back to the wall — I crouch and raise my arms ready for an attack — ! What the — ? The alarm!
I fly down the stairs and land on the alarm panel like a hockey player hitting the boards. I punch in the code. The alarm doesn’t stop. Again. Again. Again. What’s wrong? I sprint to the landline to call the alarm company. Where is the number? Why is the phone number not posted on the wall? What is the point of having a phone station with a calendar and notes — ? The shrieking pierces my skull. Make it stop!
Sliding across the floor back to the alarm panel — punching in the code again. Reset. Memory. What? Memory? No. Code. Code. Code. The alarm company will be calling any moment. Why hasn’t the alarm company called yet? Is the phone broken? The cops are going to show up. They can’t show up when I look like a dog’s breakfast! My pyjama pants and old boxing club shirt…my hair standing up and dented, how does it do that?
Wincing in pain, my ears, my head — I’ll confess! Make it stop! Bring the papers, I’ll sign! Just! Make! It! Stop! Punching all the option buttons now. Alternating with the code. Now the code again. Again and again and again again again again — !
Silence. Finally. My ears ringing. Hands on the wall in the perp stance. Breathe.
Wait. Is there an intruder? Am I alone in the house with…? No. Nobody else is here. How can I be so sure? After all, the alarm was triggered. No, I’m sure. I replay the images in my mind; the information I unconsciously collected as I flew down the stairs to the alarm panel.
The painting, that landscape one, is slightly crooked…the laundry is full now and a blue shirt fell behind the hamper…some tiny rock fragments are dusted across that one window sill where the rock collection has accumulated…one little bag of garbage has been placed outside a bedroom door and forgotten…the ficus dropped two leaves overnight…reflections in the mirrors, wow, my hair…the back window shades were up and a kitchen light had been left on…the faint scent of orange blossom soap lingered by the sink…the vacuum hose was slightly tangled and not quite contained in the utility closet…a broken chair had been placed against the book shelf with some parts taped to the arm…two rings from a coffee cup stained the ledge by the stairs…a beige patchwork sweater and some snack wrappers were crumpled on the couch….
I realized that from the moment the alarm sounded, my brain had processed every bit of information about my surroundings. No image, sound or detail went unnoticed. Without thinking, I knew that there was no light or shadow out of place: nobody else was in the house or prowling outside. I hadn’t been concerned for my safety. Just my sensory well-being. How amazing is that? The brain is fascinating.
The coffee maker gurgled in the distance, punctuating the newly beautiful silence. Still brewing? Incredible. I would have been sure that about fifteen minutes had passed. Instead, it wasn’t even long enough for the alarm company to call. Wow.
The lovely coffee aroma wafted around me. Yeah…I’ll pass. Crazy talk! I know, but the torpedo-launch into the day was effective enough. All systems engaged and fully functional. Alarm? Check. Fight or flight response? Check. Freshly-brewed coffee? Danger, danger! Approaching system overload.
Now about my hair….