Sitting in the living room after having just eaten a large home-cooked meal, the three of us contentedly focus on our own activities as we digest—Kate puzzles away at a large, almost entirely monochromatic puzzle, Valerie self-indulges in some young adult fantasy fiction, and I half-heartedly read my CFA prep book with glazed-over eyes. We are like an old married triple, each happily invested in our own hobby, and that’s when we hear it. A big thump from downstairs.
Immediately, Kate’s and my eyes widen in fear and we look at one another for confirmation as to what we have both just heard. Valerie, engrossed in her poorly written but nonetheless entertaining novel, notices nothing. The two of us, on the other hand, continue our frightened staring contest, hearts racing as our imaginations take hold.
“What was that?” I whisper.
“I don’t know. I heard it too.” Her eyes dart around the room.
“Is someone downstairs?” My voice goes up an octave. Our eyes lock once more and we leap up simultaneously, as though we are about to take some sort of action, and then freeze, realizing that we are both entirely clueless as to what one should do after confirming an intruder has entered the house.
Realizations flash through my head:
-We are on a deserted beach and none of the neighbors are in town.
-Australia doesn’t have guns so I don’t have a gun. Heck, even if I had a gun, I don’t know how to shoot a gun. That’s not true. I took riflery at summer camp, but that was a decade ago.
-Oh my god, I’m not wearing makeup and will die looking ugly.
-Ugh, I bought a Groupon for kick boxing lessons and never even went.
Moments later, Kate and I are standing confidently at the top of the stairs peering down into the dark abyss of the floor below. She holds a sharp kitchen knife and looks intimidating. I look down at my own hands and realize that I am clutching a Foster’s bottle.
“Really?!” She hisses. “You grabbed a Foster’s bottle? The kitchen is full of better weapons than that.”
“I dunno,” I shrug. “It feels pretty intimidating.” I thwap the bottle a few times into my other hand to show her how scary and dangerous my weapon choice is. She heffs her knife up a bit higher to display how much more threatening her kitchen utensil choice is. This alpha female type behavior would probably have continued if not for another huge bang suddenly sounding up from the flight below. Immediately, the two of us lose our weapons-up, ready-to-charge courage and scurry back into the other room.
“What do we do?” She looks at me expectantly.
“Uhm,” I squinch my face up as I try to come up with a plan. “Let’s leave. I don’t want to be killed.”
“No way.” She shakes her head vigorously. “There are so many poisonous things out there, we will definitely die if we go outside.” Both of us think back to all the dangerous critters we saw at the Australian aquarium and shudder. We turn to Valerie for the deciding vote. She hums a bit to herself and flips the page of her book, oblivious to our current peril.
“VAL!!!!” We both stage whisper. She unwillingly tears her eyes away from her book to see her two best friends standing over her, one wielding a sharp steak knife and the other waving around a Foster’s bottle for some reason. She flinches a bit at first and then narrows her eyes. “Caroline, did you pour out all our beer?!” Both of them stare over at me angrily and I guiltily hide the bottle behind my back.
“Never mind that,” I retort. “Get up. Someone’s in the house.”
The three of us run up a different flight of stairs, deciding we will hide in the upstairs bathroom and phone for help. Valerie calls our sole Australia contact and whispers words quotable from a scary movie, “help, someone is in the house, please come,” while Kate continues to wave her knife around menacingly and bug her eyes out more and more, and I search frantically for another weapon since the Foster’s bottle, which I still personally viewed to be quite sinister, had not been greeted with much fanfare up to this point. Val hangs up the phone, Kate leads the pack up the stairs, and I quickly snatch up a long, wooden stick (the type used in a window frame to keep it secure). Can’t hurt to have another weapon, I figure, and I don’t want our intruder friend to use it against us.
After rushing up the stairs and locking both the bedroom and bathroom door behind us, we try to gather our wits. Val clutches her phone, waiting for our rescuers to call back to notify their arrival, and Kate scans the scene until her eyes stop on me, standing there holding my new weapon.
“Really? You grabbed a stick?”
It’s more of a pole,” I clarify.
“That’s going to break on impact. Why didn’t you just go grab another knife?”
I launch into an argument on how baseball bats are the most effective defensive weapon in a street brawl. She interrupts me to comment, “that is not a baseball bat.”
“It’s basically the same thing,” I argue, starting to smack her in the shin with it to show her its pain potential.
“You should’ve gotten a knife! Now I’m the only one with a weapon!”
“Not true! I also have my Foster’s bottle!!” I swing it around in the air emphatically. “Plus, you’re not supposed to use a knife in defense because it’ll most likely be used against you. Pulling a knife on someone brings out their gut instinct to defend themselves even if they never intended to attack you!” I quote the one self defense-related piece of information I know.
The two of us launch into a nervous, whispered bickering argument on how to survive an attack, whose weapon is most effective, and whether this qualifies as a street brawl until we hear a door slowly creaking open and a man’s voice come from downstairs. Immediately, we all go dead silent and freeze, while our eyes frantically search for any possible object to use as an additional weapon in this bathroom full of fluffy towels and fragrant lotions.
Valerie’s phone ringing cuts through the silence. “Oh, it’s you downstairs? Okay, thank you so much for coming.” We all collectively exhale a sigh of relief. “Uhm yes, we are, uh …waiting… in the bathroom upstairs.” We casually lay down our steak knife, wooden staff, and Foster’s bottle, and creep back downstairs, flinching at every odd noise.
“Hello!” says the very cheery Australian lady stuck dealing with our paranoia. “We’ve checked all the rooms. There’s no one here. I even brought my husband.” Scary man voice identified.
“Mm, yes, thank you so much,” we all half-heartedly murmur as our eyes dart about to check the shadowy nooks and crannies of the floor and Kate slowly pushes on closet doors and flinches as they open.
“All the doors are locked, you’re fine now. It was just the wind coming through the screen door that you left open.”
We thank them and smile meekly as they leave, pretending to be fine and not entirely convinced it was the wind. As soon as the door closes, we deadbolt it, turn on all the lights, and sprint back upstairs to huddle together and try to regain some normalcy for the rest of the evening. Val flips right back to the page she was on and keeps reading, but I can’t stop staring at all the windows and Kate keeps changing her seating location, trying to get a view of all potential entry-points. She wiggles about, repositioning herself, until she accidentally sits on her phone and Siri breaks the silence with a loud, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.” All three of us spring off our butts and find ourselves at the foot of the staircase, ready to go back into hiding in the upstairs bathroom, when we realize it was just Siri and she is not trying to kill us (as far as we know). Laughing nervously, we flip on some music to calm the mood and plop back down on the living room couch, singing along half-heartedly to the song.
Bye bye miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Both Val and Kate go silent and grey in the face as I belt out,
“Singin’ this’ll be the day that I …..”
My voice fades away as I slowly realize what the lyrics to the song are. “Oh,” I apologize. The façade of being cool, calm, and collected is ruined and we all start grabbing our belongings, no longer able to sit in the living room. “Let’s all sleep in the bed upstairs tonight,” I suggest. They both nod their heads in strong agreement and we scurry upstairs to squeeze the three of us into the bed together, only after locking the door behind us. As I go to click off the bedroom light, I grab the Foster’s bottle and position it next to me within arm’s reach on the bedside table. Just in case.