Here’s another Southern Original Short from one of our favorites, Sheila Arnold:
The hair stood up on the back of her neck as she stood in the shower with shampoo running down her face. The opportunity to shower unencumbered by demands of her busy schedule or the needs of her three children was a treat and she was luxuriating in this rarity when she heard the unmistakable sound of movement in the adjacent room.
The year of living alone with her children had conditioned her to check windows and doors compulsively, yet even with her compulsiveness, she sometimes found an unlocked door or window that one of her children had inadvertently left open. Her heart sank as she realized that her phone was on the charger in the kitchen. Washing the shampoo from her face, she paused, held her breath and listened. There it was again…definitely an intruder was moving around. It now seemed as if the sound was in the hallway.
The adrenaline began pumping as she formulated a plan. In the panic of the moment, her brain seemed to turn into a cold, calculating machine. Her senses were heightened. Her vision and her hearing soared to superhuman heights. She could see exactly where this sound was coming from, almost as if she had x-ray vision and could hear every sound coming from the adjacent room and hallway. She had heard stories of people being on “auto-pilot” when they encountered a particularly horrible moment: how people found strength to lift cars or carry a person twice their weight to safety, and she knew that something supernatural was giving her that type of ability. As a runner she had programmed herself to summon that omnipotent power to push through the last mile of the marathon. She knew she needed this power, her wits and her faith to protect herself from the danger that lurked on the other side of the wall.
Her weights were nearby in her bedroom. If she turned off her shower, whoever was in the house would hear and know she was about to emerge. Her best bet was to use the element of surprise in her favor. She whispered a prayer and asked God to protect her and if He wouldn’t protect her, to please protect her kids. Leaving the shower running, she quietly opened the shower door, slipped on her bathrobe and eased into her bedroom, grabbing a 10 lb. dumbbell. With the goal of reaching the door before encountering the intruder, she felt confident that if she could escape through the door, she could outrun the interloper to safety.
Still dripping from the shower, heart racing and muscles poised to react, she heard the sounds even closer to her bedroom door. She positioned herself, dumbbell raised for attack and peered toward the source of the noise, only to see her new Roomba, programmed to run on Tuesdays in the room adjacent to her bedroom.
Sheila Arnold was born and raised in rural West Tennessee into a hard working
tenant farming family. A retired educator, she earned degrees from Union University
in Jackson, TN and from the University of Memphis. She now lives in Jackson, TN
with her husband, Bobby and their dog, Louie. She is the mother of two and
grandmother to six. She is an avid supporter of local artists and an advocate for
improving the livability of her community and the literacy and educational
opportunities for locals.