It’s Angie’s fault. Or Darla’s. Maybe it’s Peg’s. Or all three. Mostly, I blame Angie for pulling this memory out of my subconscious when she entered this post, An Epic Adventure in Babysitting in Darla’s Psst! Hey…Wanna Hear Something Really Embarrassing? contest. Then Peg threw her story in too, with The Substitute Babysitter.
Since all the cool kids are doing it, well, here is mine. Don’t hate me.
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Unlike my cooler blogger sisters, I loved to babysit. I was born to babysit. And I had the best job on the planet.
Mr. and Mrs. F went out every single Saturday night, from 7 to 11 or so. They had two really nice kids, a huge colonial house and a swimming pool. At about 12 I started supervising kids in that pool, in spite of the fact that I bear no resemblance at all to Michael Phelps.
These folks were rich, but incredibly nice. And they loved me.
Their house was huge, and quite old, which meant it squeaked and made all kinds of noises at night. My much smaller house was old, too, so I was pretty much used to the noises.
But it was 9th Grade that year. I was reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote for English class. Yup. Reading about the slaughter of an entire family in their home.
To make matters worse the F’s house was being renovated. So after the kids went to bed, I hung out with the terrifying book in a part of the house I was unfamiliar with.
There were noises. Of course there were noises.
There were footsteps. Upstairs.
Was it in Hadley’s room, at the top of the stairs?
Or was it in Scotty’s room, a few footsteps down the hall?
I knew it was in one of the two. I could hear it. Clear as a bell, on the hardwood floor upstairs.
So I did what any dedicated babysitter sitting next to a fireplace would do. I picked up the poker.
I don’t want to kill anybody, I thought. So I put it back.
I picked up the little shovel. The spade. I was ready to protect those kids no matter what. And I crept up the carpeted steps.
I looked down the long, hallway. I didn’t want to alert the killer to my presence, so I didn’t turn on the light. The carpeted hallway was lit only with one measly nightlight. But the thick white carpeting helped me see that there was no burglar/murder there.
But there was plenty of space for the burglar/murder to hide.
I walked into Hadley’s room. She was sleeping soundly, still alive, because I could hear her calm breathing.
I had just walked into Scotty’s room when I heard true, distinct footsteps downstairs.
This time I knew it wasn’t my imagination. Because I realized that I wouldn’t actually have heard footsteps upstairs because the carpeting was thick and luxurious and the kids were always getting out of bed and sneaking up on me. (It would have been helpful had I remembered that earlier.)
But the footsteps downstairs were on hard wood. They were real.
“Elyse? We’re home!” Mr. and Mrs. F had come home.
And there I stood in their son’s bedroom, with a shovel in my hand.