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Mysterious Night Noises

Tap. Tap-tap-tap.

I frown, but keep my eyes closed. We’d all lost a couple of hours of sleep the night before, so I’m determined to get to sleep as soon as I can.

Tap. Tap-tap-tap.

I roll over, knowing J is awake because he’s reading his Kindle with his flashlight. “What is that?”

“I don’t know.”

The sound comes again. Last year for a while, B would kick the metal tub at the end of his bed – it contains his stuffed animals – while stretching out. The tapping might be that, but even though it doesn’t sound quite right I ask J, “Would you mind checking to see if B is awake?”

J’s answer is to slide out of bed with his flashlight, pull on his shorts, and walk over to B’s bedroom.

Tap. Tap-tap-tap.

I watch as my husband heads for the door. Leans down to peer under the shoe shelf by the door, shining the light underneath it. Then he goes outside for a minute, shining the flashlight this way and that in front of the house. I gather that when he was at B’s bedroom, he could tell the sound was coming from the front of the house.

In case you’re wondering why we couldn’t tell while in bed, it’s the bizarre acoustics of our small, dome-ceilinged, concrete dwelling. When someone’s talking or making a noise in the house, if they’re out of your line of vision it’s really hard to tell where they are. They could be on the other side of the wall from you, or on the opposite side.

Anyway, J finally comes in, returns to the bed. “I didn’t see anything.”

I don’t have to ask about the “anything.” When we first moved here and lived in the Tuff Shed, one night we were awakened by a possum with its head stuck in an empty milk jug, banging it around to try to get it off. Another night I was freaking about a persistent tapping noise at the back of the Tuff Shed, and when J went out to investigate, he discovered a mouse who was unsuccessfully attempting to pull a hickory nut underneath the shed with it. (J helped it so the noise would stop). And we know rats and raccoons abound on and around our homestead. So who knows what visitor we might have had that was trying to make mischief in front of our house.

“Did you hear anything while I was out?” J adds.

“No.” And so we assume that J has scared away whatever was making the noise.

I turn over and close my eyes.

A couple of minutes later, the sound comes again. A little fainter, so that J doesn’t hear it. With visions of a raccoon knocking an annoying paw against a window off and on for the rest of the night, I’m not going to sleep any time soon. So I get up – having to tell my suddenly-alert husband to stay in bed, because I don’t want his flashlight scaring off whatever it is – go to the door, and open it. As I do, color explodes into the sky above the mountain across from us, and the noise that accompanies it is much louder, familiar now.

Maybe I should mention that when you live in an earth-sheltered house, even the loudest sounds are muffled.

I turn and sort of quietly call to J, “It’s fireworks!”

Every year, the weekend before the Fourth of July, our neighbors up the mountain shoot off fireworks. And every year, I forget about their tradition until we start hearing them at bedtime. I might remember if we could actually see them. But usually, we don’t. Just hear the noise.

Closing the door, I look out the window for another minute, hoping to get another glimpse of the colorful sparks. When none are forthcoming, I go back to bed.

A few minutes later, a series of crackling pops occur. It turns out to be the finale, as there are no more taps or pops thereafter.

I turn over toward J, who is still trying to put himself to sleep with his book. “Now that,” I say, “sounded like fireworks.” My husband murmurs in agreement.

Where is our son during all this? Fast asleep in his bed.

Thank goodness.

Happy Independence Day. 🙂

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