With Ann Rickard
With Ann Rickard

Lurking in loneliness

AM I THE only one who suffers from "home alone" syndrome?

I have always been nervous in the house alone.

Without another person's presence, every space in the house seems sinister.

Every room becomes a place where malevolence may lurk.

It's ridiculous I know, but it's an affliction I've suffered all my life.

I have never lived alone; can never envisage such a frightening prospect.

Day time alone in the home makes me edgy, nervous... but the nights... oh the nights... terrifying.

Every leaf that falls outside is a serial killer adjusting his gun before he breaks a window to climb in.

Every branch that creaks is an axe murderer sharpening up before he knocks on the door with a gleaming blade in his hand and a hysterical glint in his eye.

Every rattle of a window is Hannibal Lecter coming in with some fava beans a bottle of Chianti.

Every murmur of the wind is Ted Bundy jumping up and down impatiently outside contemplating a spot of dismembering.

I hate being home alone.

Just for the record, I am not alone at the moment (you never know, you might be at the ready with your Swiss Army Knife just waiting for me to give up that bit of intelligence), but I have been for the past three days - and it's been hell.

The Nervous Nelly suffers edginess in every room, a thumping heart when she's near a window and pure terror when she has to open a door to put the dog out.

The overheated imagination pictures all manner of scenarios, especially when the Nervous Nelly retires to bed with nothing but the flimsy protection of doors and walls and windows and alarm systems between her and a certain grisly death before morning.

Sleep is impossible.

Pillows stuffed on the empty side of the bed to fake another person there in case Jack Ripper decides to pop in for a spot of gruesome fun, become nameless lumps of evil.

Shelves become shadows which in turn become medieval crusaders miraculously sped through time and space to arrive in the ensuite wardrobe with a sack full of torture instruments.

I'm even frightened of the house itself.

What if I get locked in the toilet? You may snort but it happens (mostly to old ladies, yes, but it does happen. And I am an old lady.)

I'd be trapped inside the small windowless loo with no means out and only a toilet brush to entertain me until days later when my husband arrived home.

Death by Boredom in a Locked Toilet could be worse than meeting a gory end with Hannibal Lector. At least he brought the Chianti.

I don't know where this ridiculous nervousness comes from. It certainly doesn't run in the family.

My 95-year-old mother lives alone and frequently forgets to shut (let alone lock) her front door. She has often risen, gone to pick up the morning paper to find the front door swinging invitingly open.

My sister sometimes lives alone when her adult sons temporarily move out (they always come back) and she loves it.

She once woke up to find a man stomping up her hallway towards her bedroom.

He was a taxi driver, come to the wrong address, and just walked in her unlocked front door to see if anyone was at home.

She was not in the least flustered.

So, without inviting your pity, if I find myself widowed and home alone in my later years, can I come and stay at your place?

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