This was the moment when all that thinking should be paying off. The guy knocked on the door. I was home alone, and true to form, didn’t answer or give any indication I was inside. In fact I froze, like a wild hare does when the hawk circles overhead. I heard voices outside through the relatively thin decorative glass. Loud voices. Ethnic voices. I swallowed to calm the escalated heartbeat in my ears.
Reaching for my phone, I noted the time and calculated these men had been standing on my porch for far longer than necessary. They were still talking loudly, though I couldn’t hear what was being said. The emergency number was entered, my thumb hovered over the the green “Send Call” button when I heard the sound of breaking glass. Well shit! I thought.
Determined to be as quiet as possible, I peeked over the edge of the stairs as an arm snaked through the glass to unlock the front door and two good-sized men shouldered their way into my parents’ house. Glancing at the phone, I knew I had to get to safety and call the authorities. In that order.
I remember being remarkably calm as I assessed their progress into the house. They were confident no-one was home and were clearly in search of valuables. The only thing of value I possessed was a laptop, so I darted into my room to shove it under my mattress. Foolish, perhaps, but my pride wouldn’t permit me to just let them take my most beloved possession–my writings. I shut the door behind me to drown out the sound of their animal noises as they rifled through our electronics downstairs. It was only a matter of time before they came up here to my second floor.
I locked my door, then stepped into the adjacent bathroom to lock that door as well. That should hold them for a bit. My next stop was the window. It opened easily and I slithered out onto the roof, my phone still in hand. Taking a few steps to the right, I was able to get out of the line of sight of my window (lest they come barging into my room) and perched comfortably in a shady nook. I can remember how the roof shingles gnawed at my feet and how loud my clothing was as I took a seat.
I felt now was an acceptable time to phone for emergency assistance. “Send Call.” The emergency operator answered calmly. I, for my part, kept my head as I explained my situation. She asked me if I was in a safe location and I said that I was. “Are you at a neighbor’s house?”
“Oh, I’m on the roof,” I answered, almost cheerily. After assuring her I was safe, she asked if I could see the suspects’ car. I could, and gave her as good a description as I knew how. What seemed only moments later, several squad cars appeared and the officers sprang into action. The men were promptly arrested. The whole affair, from start to finish had taken mere minutes. As the would-be burglars were led out the front of the house, I couldn’t resist wishing them ‘good luck’ with the famous Hawaiian hand gesture.
One of the officers spoke into his CB radio at his shoulder, then raised his eyes to where I sat. He waved and I called down, “Thank you for your quick response!”
He invited me down and we discussed all I had seen and heard. It wasn’t until about 45 minutes later, after all statements had been made, I had been checked for any injuries, the area had been scoured for evidence, glass cleaned up, makeshift patching put over the hole in the door, and the officers seen on their way that the adrenaline of that afternoon came in a sudden all-in rush. I cried for an hour, curled into the couch.
I had escaped the immediate threat, but the intruders had still taken something from me: my peace of mind. I didn’t know how I was to escape that, or how even to begin to try.