And then, suddenly, a noise.
But I was dreaming. A beautiful dream about something or the other lovely**. I stirred briefly, then allowed myself to slip back into unconsciousness.
And then, once more:
I startled awake. What the fuck? The sound was next to my head.
I switched on the lamp. Penny the cat was in full alert mode - tail bushy, hairs prickling, a look of fevered concentration on her delicate feline face.
Something was in my room. Worse. Something was in my bed.
Penny was sniffing crazily, burrowing under doonas and pillows, bounding to the floor to search under the bed, then leaping up to the sheets again.
"What is it Penny?" I cried. "WHAT'S THERE?"***
Penny didn't answer. But then I heard it. A scamper.
Mouse. MOUSE. It was a mouse. It had to be a mouse.
Oh my god. A mouse. A rodent type mouse. A mouse. A mouse. Did I say mouse?
Artist's Impression of Pathetic Scared-Of-Rodential Woman
But I was alone in the room. The nominative man of the house (my father) had returned to Sydney. The real man of the house (my mother) was fast asleep in her bedroom, and whilst I did contemplate waking her, I knew my chances of getting babysitting help for the next couple of weeks would be severely compromised as a result.
I summoned up every ounce of strength I had.... and peered under the bed.
Nothing. At least, nothing that I could see. But the cat was still bristling and searching, and the scamper had definitely scampered, and my adrenaline was pumping, and there was clearly nothing to do but leave my kids and mum to their own fate and hop in the car and drive back home to Sydney.
But by then it was 12.14pm, and I was fairly tired. And then there was the not-minor issue of my clothes being in the suitcase, which theoretically could also be inhabited by said murderous mouse.
And so I slammed the bedroom door on all living creatures, and went out to the living room, where I slept fitfully on the couch for the next few hours.
This morning, of course, Penny was sleeping peacefully on my bed. I choose to believe she has chased out the rodents, frightened them so comprehensively that they will never return.
But in case I am wrong, I'm going back home today. It was either that or burn down my parents' house, and that babysitting help you see......
*comfortably for her, that is. Not for me.
**the trauma of subsequent events has wiped the loveliness from my mind.
***and yes, this is not literary embellishment. I really did speak to the cat. I'm not sure whether I was expecting an answer, but I was frightened, and alone
****admittedly this is a theory only, as my lack of fear of sharks, lions and bears has not been tested, but I'm sure I'd be totally fine.