I love old things. Old books, old photos, old houses.
Our house was built in 1900. I fell in love with it the first time I saw it. I love the woodwork, the built-in benches, the pocket doors.
When we first moved in, I was an old-house novitiate. I grew up in a newer-construction house, and had never before lived in a structure as old as this one. I quickly learned that there are qualities unique to old homes, and certain things you need to beware of. I learned one such lesson one late summer night, just a few months after we had moved in.
Derek and I were sitting on the couch in the living room. Atticus and Adelaide were tucked away in their beds. The tv was on, but Derek had fallen asleep, all tuckered out after a long day. I was sitting beside him, absorbed in a book. Suddenly, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. "Hmmm," I thought. "That was an awfully big moth."
Still reading, but also aware that there was some kind of flying insect in the house, my head snapped up when the moth again flew by. By now, however, I knew it wasn't a moth. I jabbed Derek in the side with my elbow and said, "Derek! There's a bird in the house!" My husband roused himself enough to open his eyes and look sleepily around for a couple minutes. When the bird didn't reappear, he mumbled something like, "I don't see anything," and went back to sleep. I continued to try and read, but by now it was hopeless. I was too jumpy.
I poked Derek and told him I was going up to bed. He woke up just long enough to haul himself up the stairs and fall into bed. I settled in next to him, still awake, still sure I had seen something. After a few minutes, I heard something downstairs. I again poked Derek and hissed, "There's something downstairs!" He heaved a deep sigh and layed there, listening, for a full minute.
Silence. "I don't hear anything," he said, undisguised annoyance coloring his voice. I got the distinct feeling he was tired of his paranoid wife waking him up when he was exhausted, so I laid there, determined to ignore any more sounds from downstairs and go to sleep.
A few minutes later, I heard more sounds from the first floor of our house. But these were different. They were extremely high-pitched chattering sounds. And I finally knew what was in our house.
It was a bat.
I knew very little about bats. So I figured I'd just let it hang out downstairs for the night, because I sure wasn't waking my husband up again. And going downstairs to take care of it myself was out of the question. I closed my eyes, smug that for once, there really was something in the house. I wasn't just being paranoid.
I was nearly asleep when I felt an odd whooshing sensation over me. My eyes flew open, and with horror I realized the bat was in our bedroom, flying over our bed. I threw the covers over my head and kicked Derek awake, shrieking, "It's-a-bat-it's-a-bat-it's-a-bat!" He jumped out of bed, and the games began.
Before that night, I had no idea how fast bats are. They fly with amazing speed and maneuverability. That bat swooped throughout our house, back and forth, and every time I thought it was going to hit something, it would make a hairpin turn and flash back out of the room. It would have been impressive had I not been so terrified. Derek spent the next hour trying to get that thing out of our house. He opened the front door to try and coax it outside, he tried chasing it through the house. Bats are very nimble prey.
I was a big help. I followed Derek downstairs, because I was too much of a pansy to stay upstairs in our bedroom alone with a bat on the loose. Instead, I cowered on the couch, squealing and pulling a quilt over my head every time it flew back into the living room. Eventually Derek made it clear that I was going to have to help, and I was stationed in the doorway between the front entryway and the kitchen, holding up the quilt to close off that doorway. His plan was to seal off all possible areas of the house, trap and then catch the bat. After awhile, we realized the bat was no longer flying around. We couldn't find it upstairs. We couldn't find it downstairs. Earlier, I had gone upstairs to make sure the kids' bedroom doors were closed to keep the bat from bothering them. As we found out that night, however, bats can squeeze through very small spaces, and managed to get into Adelaide's room. I darted in and carried our sleeping daughter out of the room, while Derek continued to stalk his prey. He found the bat in the corner of the room, behind some bins holding stuffed animals.
Derek and the bat battled. Derek won. He disposed of the bat, and we went back to bed.
Not ten minutes later, we heard something downstairs. There was another bat.
We drug ourselves back downstairs. Fortunately, Derek is a fast learner, and was by now an efficient bat-stalker. He captured and rid us of another bat.
We went to sleep. There were no more bats that night.
Apparently, it's quite common for bats to find their way into old houses. After that night, I felt I had successfully (if cowardly) made my way through a bat-experience.
Until the next morning, when our sweet three-year-old daughter came to me and told me about the dream she'd had the night before. She had dreamt there was a bird flying around her room, and it came down and bit her on the cheek.
And I freaked out.
Because this has already become a novella, I'll have to continue it tomorrow. The chitlins are hollerin' fer some grub.