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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thief in the Night by Stephanie D. Birch

To all our Writer Freaks loyal readers,

I don’t typically write nonfiction, but there was this thing that happened to yours truly not too long ago that I had to write down and share with you. I tried submitting it to a literary rag, but they rejected it. Par for the course. Besides, I don’t think it was really the kind of subject-matter they were looking for. So, I thought I would share it with you. Let me know what you think. ;-)

Thief in the Night – A Nonfiction Short Story

by Stephanie D. Birch

Courtesy Luiz Adriana Villa A., Noche de Lune llena

It was a cold evening and typically I would have spent such an evening cuddling by a roaring fire. Instead, I spent the evening cuddled up against my husband on the couch with my two adorable, yet fiercely protective Weimaraners watching crime dramas on the television. It was some sort of crime drama marathon and it sucked me right in. I was enthralled in these fictitious crimes, cheering the FBI onto catching every sociopathic suspect in a hoodie with dark sunglasses. Why did they always wear hoodies? The only picture I could remember of a suspect sketch in real life was the Unabomber and I suppose he fit the description. But the criminals in these crime dramas were ALWAYS sinister looking. It made me think of a news story I once watched. Kids were asked what a stranger looked like and they described these grotesque individuals, not ordinary people. Apparently Hollywood hadn’t received them memo on that issue yet; not all criminals looked shifty. But the portrayal of shifty, sinister criminals made for better television, that’s for sure. The characters were intense, as was the plot. I found that I had stopped blinking I was so riveted.

With every episode, I grew more jumpy. Adding to my jumpiness was a paranoia, of which I squarely place the blame on the crime drama and the episode's content. A car would pass by our house shinning their headlights into the kitchen window. My fear would rise, bubbling up at the illumination of the room. It casted shadows everywhere and shadows made me think of ominous what-if scenarios. Could it be someone with a flashlight ready to break into my home? I tried my best to compose myself and I thought I had done a pretty good job at it. Soon, we switched off the television and made a dash for the bedroom. The week had been hard on us both and it was late. Those crime dramas had sucked us in so much that it was now well after midnight.

I mindlessly went about my evening routine. I fluttered around the house locking all of the doors and windows even double checking them. I knew I was being ridiculously paranoid, but I just needed a little assurance that we would be safe for the night at least. I changed into my pajamas, and turned down the bed. Utterly exhausted and ready to drop, Jake and I brushed our teeth, staring at each other bleary-eyed in the mirror. My electric toothbrush hummed loudly in my head. It was kind of like white noise and had started to lull me into my dreamland dissent, albeit prematurely. I realized I was falling asleep standing up, so I snapped my eyes open and saw Jake now finished brushing his teeth and on his way into bed. One dog slept snugly in her crate and the other hopped up on the bed and peacefully coiled around Jake’s feet. I slid between the covers and, with a thud, plopped my head against the cool soothing surface of my pillow. I love the very first sensation of slipping between the sheets, and this night was no exception. I flipped off the lights and stared at the ceiling for just a moment before I began to drift. Soon, enough I could hear my husband’s rhythmic snoring and feel my dog’s dreamland twitches vibrating against my consciousness. Breathing deeply, I turned on my side and snuggled my head into the crook of his shoulder, my happy place. I drifted in and out of sleep for the next hour, fluttering my eyes open from time to time. In my brief lapses into slumber, I dreamt vividly of our crazy, inhospitable neighbors. The dreams were a mix of that crime drama from earlier and my real-life crazy neighbors. They were looking shifty and sinister, just like in those shows. Then, in the space between my dreams, I suddenly saw it.

The entire room lit up with bluish light glowing for only moments and faded into the recesses of the backyard just outside our bedroom window. Perhaps, I thought, I imagined it. I began to shut my eyes when the room lit up again. This time I sat straight up in bed. My heart raced, beating in my ears and giving away my position just like the intense music in those crime dramas. I waited, sheets pulled up to just under my nose, to see if I could see it once more. Then, again! There it was! Light flooded the room. It looked like someone was in our backyard with a flashlight. My dogs weren’t moving. They always heard every little thing. If someone was in our backyard, surely they would have heard it by now? Why didn’t they bark? Unsure of what to do, I shook Jake by the shoulder with such force as to wake him up as quickly as possible.

“Jake! Wake up!” I loudly whispered. “I think there’s someone in our backyard!”

In a complete daze and barely seeing anything, Jake slipped on his glasses and stared at me in confusion. “What are you talking about?” The room lit up again and this time you could plainly see it originated from the backyard.

“Look! Did you see that? Oh my god! Someone is in our backyard!”

“Okay. I saw it that time.” The light flooded our room again, and at this point I was utterly terrified. Jake, still half asleep, acted on my next absurd suggestion out of a knee-jerk reaction to being so startled out of sleep.

“Go get the gun!” I demanded, my voice dripping with fear. I took my position near the window, just behind the backdoor.

I peeked out the window from the very edge of the frame, half hiding behind the backdoor. The dogs were still asleep and soundly at that. I was growing increasingly irritated by the fact they weren’t protecting the house like they were suppose to. Jake was in the closet unlocking the shot gun. I could hear two unmistakable clicks as the shells snapped into the barrel. He cautiously navigated down the hallway and to the living room when he started to laugh while I screamed, “There is it again!” Confused and frustrated that he wasn’t taking this seriously, I demanded to know why he was laughing, “What’s so funny?” I hissed and his laughter filled the house, trickling down the hallway and into the bedroom as he walked back toward me.

“I saw it too! And this time it was in the front yard. Unless we are on some sort of FBI watch list and they are taking our house in raid, nobody is in our backyard.” He laughed louder as he saw it again. I was thoroughly confused and still peeved at not being taken seriously, plus I was still terrified. Jake marched back into the bedroom and reached for the handle to the backdoor just behind my back. “Don’t open it. You don’t know what is going on out there!” I protested, half scowling at his laughter.

Ignoring my pleas, Jake swung the backdoor open all the way. The back yard was vacant. I couldn’t see anyone in it at all. My eyes darted back and forth trying to find any hint of movement. There was nothing, nobody. Even the hen house in our backyard was motionless, the chickens all fast asleep inside. But suddenly, I saw it. The night sky lit up with a brilliant electric blue and in the distance there was a low rumbling building. At this point I felt like a complete idiot, but I recovered quickly by following my husband’s lead, laughing hysterically at our backyard invader. Leaning over and kissing me on the forehead Jake asked, “What did you want me to do? Battle Zeus with a 12 gauge?”

Me and my over active imagination.

Stephanie D. Birch is a Name-that-Greek-God Champion. Her hobbies include crafting her own lightning bolts, then hiding behind bushes and jumping out at people to "zap" them wearing nothing but a gold plated leaf tiara and a toga. To hear more of her incredible stories, real or not, visit www.stephaniedbirch.com or email her at birchwordnerd@yahoo.com

© 2012-2013 by Stephanie D. Birch. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephanie D. Birch.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much! Glad you liked it!

      Stephanie D. Birch
      Writer Freaks

  2. I was waiting anxiously for the part where Jake gets the gun!!

    1. It was seriously just one of the most hysterical things ever! I wish there had been a video camera. You would have died laughing! Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the comment! :-)

      Stephanie D. Birch