The home I grew up in had six bedrooms, which meant we always shared a room with one other person. As we younger kids got older and more and more kids left the house, we not only got our own rooms, but two beds all to ourselves. Pushing the two beds together to create one large bed was heavenly. There were some definite perks to being at the tail end of our enormous family.
When I was a senior in high school, Jordan and I were the lone two children left at home. He was the only occupant in the basement, and I had a room upstairs all to myself. My homemade king size bed was centered against the wall with the end of the bed closest to the door. On either side of the bed was just enough space for nightstands. My room was upstairs and right next to Mom and Dad’s—a location most eighteen-year-olds would not prefer. However one night I woke up more than glad my room was so close to my parents’.
I‘m a light sleeper and am one of those that can be awakened in the middle of the night, fully alert. I have never worried about fires or someone breaking in because I know that I would smell the smoke or hear the crackling of the tiniest flame before the fire alarm would even have a chance to register. As for a burglar, I would most definitely hear a door knob turning or a window opening, even if it was done with the quietest of intent. It’s almost as if I can sense things happening even before they occur.
One night in my room, I had been deeply asleep and must have been having a nightmare. I dreamt there was a man in my room—at least I thought it was a dream. I awoke with a start and could sense him next to me, even before I could feel him. I was wide awake and beyond terrified. Frozen in place with my arm extended, I could feel his hand in mine. Instantly panic struck me. My door was opened and I could see the hallway clearly. It would only be a matter of my standing up and leaping off the end of my bed for me to be safe. I knew I could jump to the hallway and be in Mom and Dad’s room in a matter of seconds. My heart was pounding and sweat had already begun to bead on my forehead.
The intruder’s hand was still in mine. Not wanting to look, but facing the window -the window he must have come through. I strained in the darkness to make out his shape. I could not see him, but I could still feel his hand. What in the world is he doing? Is he laying by the side of my bed, while keeping his hand in mine? For some reason that creeped me out more than anything; the fact that just his hand was all I could see and feel.
Making an instant decision, I jumped up. I threw the arm off of me as hard as I could. I physically hurled it in the direction of the end of my bed. To my utter horror I could hear the arm land on the ground with a thud. What is this? The one-armed man? Suddenly thoughts of the movie “The Fugitive” sprang to my mind. Holy crap. It’s Sykes!! The guy that killed Dr. Richard Kimball’s wife. The freak with one arm. I clearly remembered the scene in which Harrison Ford in a struggle with the one-armed man pulled the prosthesis off of the man’s body. The arm loosely laid hanging in the man’s shirt unattached to his body. It was freakishly long with only his buttoned sleeve keeping it from falling to the floor. I had done the same thing as Harrison Ford had done in the movie! In a moment of what can only be described as pure adrenaline, I had ripped the arm from my intruder’s body and flung it to the floor.
I could take no more. Screaming bloody murder, I hurdled my bed and the arm on the floor, landing in the hall. Not bothering to lift myself off the ground, I propelled my prostrate body through my parent’s bedroom door. The door opened loudly with a bang, just as I began hysterically screaming at my Dad. “There’s a man in my room!!! There’s a man in my room!!! He was holding my hand. I threw his arm. It landed.” My sentences were short and to the point. Tears were streaming down my face.
Suddenly I stopped short. My parents hadn’t even budged. They were both silent. “DAD!!” I pleaded. “He’s sill in there!!”
My Dad’s quiet and calm voice cut me off. He spoke distinctly and slowly. “Kate, there’s no man in your room.”
“What in the world are you talking about? I could feel his hand.” I said impatiently.
My Dad hadn’t even stood up, hadn’t even bothered to lift his head off his pillow.
His voice came again, still calmly speaking to me. “Kate, feel your hand.”
“Kate. You slept on one of your hands. Your hand fell asleep. You must have rolled over and it landed on your other hand.”
“Kate, there’s no man in your room. That was your own hand you were feeling.”
“But, I heard it land.” I stammered lamely.
“No, you didn’t Kate.”
And just like that my overly logical father had somehow known that I had in fact fallen asleep and was holding my own hand. My right hand I could now feel was numb—in the full confines of sleep.
There was nothing else to do, but cradle my tingling arm, turn around sheepishly, head back into my room and go to bed.
My Mom never even said a word.
Because I could never live that story down, I was bound and determined that it would never happen to me again.
When my first child Cameron was born, my husband Travis and I lived in the basement of my parents’ home. Cameron was only a few days old, and I was physically and mentally exhausted as all first-time moms are. I’m sure many can relate to the feelings of panic that can wash over a new parent in the middle of the night when they suddenly awake to have the terrifying feeling of “where’s the baby?” I distinctly remember on a few occasions freaking out and searching through the sheets, sure I had fallen asleep after feeding Cameron and had left him in bed with us. I awoke poor Travis one night, yelling frantically that he was “on the baby.” We both thrashed through the sheets until Travis had the good sense to go look in the crib, where he found Cameron sleeping soundly. I dreaded those nights of pure and utter exhaustion.
A few nights later, Travis and I decided to switch places in the bed so that I could be nearer to Cameron’s crib. I awoke in a haze and was immediately aware that there was an arm next to me on the bed. My first thought was panic, as the PTSD from my experience almost ten years previously came rushing back. Luckily logic was my next thought.
Calmly I sat up in bed and lifted up my two arms. Using my right hand I first inspected the left arm. “One arm,” I spoke out loud. Next using my left hand I ran it up the length of my right arm. “Two arms.” With trembling fingers I timidly took both of my hands and placed them on the third arm that was still lying on the bed next to me. A familiar terror began to rise in my throat. I quickly did the check again. “One arm, two arms, three arms.” My hands raced over first, my left and then my right arm and then again to the third arm as I repeated over and over again. “One arm, two arm, third arm.” This time it was happening for sure. Neither of my hands was asleep, I had made sure of that. I had even checked and double checked.
“Travis!” I hissed loudly.
There was a good chance the intruder had already killed my husband. That would, after all, be the smartest move. Travis is a big guy, and strong, too. While I, on the other hand, had just had a baby and was still chunky with no ab-muscles to lift myself off of the bed. I’m dead.
Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by Travis’ voice. “What in the crap are you doing?”
My thoughts were brought back. “Third arm, third arm, Trav, there’s a third arm!”
“Holy cow. You’re so weird.” Travis stated mystified and annoyed. “That’s my arm, Kate!”
I suddenly remembered that Travis and I had decided to switch places in bed. Normally I slept on the left side of the bed and often on my left side. Now I was on the right side, but had still been sleeping on my left side. I had awakened thinking that I was on the edge of the bed, when in fact I was facing the middle and right next to Travis.
“Sorry,” I stated lamely. “But at least I checked this time.” I added the last statement thinking it would somehow make me sound more normal.
Travis looked at me like I was some kind of freak. He shook his head. “Seriously, Kate? Twice?!?”
“Yep,” I dumbly stated before rolling over and going back to sleep.