False Alarm


July 28, 2020

It was the unfamiliar sound of a single “beep”  that woke me. I opened my eyes to find the room bathed in an amber glow. When I turned my head, I saw that the screen of the landline phone on my dresser was lit up, as if someone was using the extension. But Ben was still sleeping soundly and we didn’t have any house guests.

My heart began to pound as I realized that there might be an intruder in the house. It made perfect sense that he would take the phone in the kitchen off the hook so we couldn’t call for help.  Silently, I threw the covers back and tiptoed to the dresser. If the message on the phone’s screen read, “Line in use”, my worst fears would be confirmed.

I reached for the phone and, at that exact moment, everything went pitch black: the phone screen, the digital clock radio, and the lamp in the living room we kept on at night. Now I was really terrified. This was just like so many of the scary movies I had seen. Not only had the phone been disabled, but the power was cut too.

Ben still slept soundly. I didn’t want to wake him because I knew he would groan and alert the intruder. I crept softly back to my side of the bed and grabbed my cell phone. Would the intruder not think that we had cell phones?

I moved into the hallway, feeling my way in the total darkness. In the living room, all the windows were intact and the front door was tightly shut. I sidled into the kitchen and, there too, everything looked fine. The safety bar was across the patio doors and nothing had been disturbed. The only other possibility was they had broken in through the basement. I really didn’t want to go down there. I stood, frozen, as I reviewed my options:  1) Take a chance and go down to confront the possible intruder; 2) Take a chance and go down to find nothing; 3) Wake Ben and leave; 4) Call 911.

And then it struck me. Looking out the glass of the patio doors, I saw that the whole neighbourhood was in darkness. No porch lights shone. No flickering TV screens of night owl neighbours. I went weak with relief. There was no intruder in the house – there was a power failure!

I went back to bed feeling a little silly and vowing to cross Panic Room and When A Stranger Calls off  the list of movies I want to see again.


This post was written in response to the daily word prompts provided by
Jibber Jabber with Sue for Day 30 (review).


My cousin Danielle and I were born six months apart to the day, but it would be hard to find two more different girls. She had buttery blonde hair; mine was a dark, chestnut brown. She was petite – smaller than average even – while I was tall. She was the second-youngest of a family of five; I was the eldest of three. But that wasn’t what adults meant when, through the sound of their hushed whispers, I heard them say Danielle was “different”.  In our French Canadian families, they also said that she had “un léger retard” – a slight delay.  Whether that was true or not, the differences I saw were to be admired and worn proudly as badges of honour.

As kids Danielle and I spent a lot of time together. Sprawled on our bellies on the floor, we would colour for hours on end. Her finished pages were things of beauty. The outer edges of the shapes were outlined with a thick, dark line of colour. Then, using light, feathery touches, she expertly filled them in, never once coloring outside the line. To my seven-year-old self, the ability to colour inside the lines was a much sought-after skill. Danielle also had a natural eye for colour. While I spent minutes trying to decide which crayon to use, she naturally gravitated to those that blended beautifully and harmoniously.

In comparison, my pages were crude and messy. When I expressed my frustration once, she calmly lifted her head and looked over. At first, I expected the smug look I saw in classmates who were talented dodge ball players. As team captains, they sometimes took pleasure in the agonized look of their peers, anxiously waiting to be picked and feverishly hoping not to be the last one standing. But that look never came. Danielle just cocked her head and looked at my work with interest. Then she offered pointers with a grace and generosity well beyond her years. If that’s what being different meant, I admired it.

Later, Danielle’s family moved to the country where they had horses. I remember riding behind her once through a field of tall grass. She sat straight, calm and relaxed in the saddle. Her long, blonde hair swung down her back and she looked for all the world like a tiny princess riding into the sunset. She had never had a riding lesson in her life, but she and her horse had a mutual trust and respect that can’t be taught. If that’s what being different meant, I admired it.

Life happened and Danielle and I grew apart. I hope she knows that she might be different, but that’s what makes her special.

This post was written in response to the daily word prompts provided by
Jibber Jabber with Sue for Day 22 (sound).

Spirit Animal


It was a beautiful day for a walk, with the sun bouncing off the pristine snow, making it sparkle like a million tiny diamonds. I took a breath of crisp, fresh air as I walked past an opening in the road leading to a small, wooded area. It had been cleared in the fall, probably as the first phase in the construction of a new house that would be recessed from the road.  So far, though, it was just a short road to nowhere. But that day someone – or something – laid claim to it for a little while.

I saw him immediately – a beautiful red fox sitting exactly in the middle of the open path, looking out toward the road. His fur was like shiny copper against the clean, white snow. He saw me too and stayed completely still, following me with his eyes. He was a bold little creature, sitting out in the open, like the world was his kingdom. I walked slowly, alert for any sudden move toward me.  And just as I got safely past him, I felt compelled to stop.

Some Native American cultures believe we have spirit animals, who guide or protect us, and with whom we share certain characteristics.  Could this brash little fox, who was out of his element yet seemed so unafraid, have been sent to tell me something?

I slowly took my cell phone from my pocket and took a few, careful steps back.  Whether or not he was my spirit animal, he was beautiful and I wanted a photo. Just as I got level with him again, he turned and scampered into the wooded area behind. Disappointed, I continued on my way.

At home, I searched for the meaning of the fox as a spirit animal and found that:

  • Responsive, sometimes cunning, this animal is a great guide when you are facing tricky situations.
  • When the fox appears in your life, it encourages action and quick, swift moves. You may be called to take action in a way that shows your adaptability and ability to move quickly through.

I don’t know if there was a reason for the fox’s appearance on my walk that day or if it was just a lucky coincidence.  What I do know is that, even though I didn’t get a photo, he left a beautiful image imprinted in my memory.

This post was written in response to the daily word prompts provided by
Jibber Jabber with Sue for Day 16 (sent).