Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Curse of Imagination

by Amanda Forester

I can be perfectly logical during the day when I'm at work or taking care of the kids. There is something about writing reports, doing dishes, or finding where the cat puked by stepping in it that keeps you grounded. But at night, when everyone else is fast asleep, the veneer of practicality slips and I can go from no nonsense mama to raving neurotic in 2.5 seconds.

Bumps in the night. It doesn't take much more than an unfamiliar sound to send my imagination into overdrive. A thump downstairs couldn't possibly be the cat jumping down from the counter, oh no, it is sure to be a homicidal fiend, who broke into my house and is even now creeping up the stairs. Closer, and closer he comes. I swear I can hear his footsteps on the stairs and the jangle of chains. My heart racing, I grab my pepper spray, burst open the door and find... the cat.

The soft scratch noise is not the occasional bird that lands on my roof, but the presence of mice... no rats... no rodents of unusual size who live by the hundreds in my attics and are only waiting for me to drift into sleep before crewing a hole through my ceiling and coming to feast on my brains. The only thing that can save me is to NEVER FALL ASLEEP.

Pepper spray in hand, lights blazing to prevent myself from sleeping, I feel a momentary cool breeze, which is certainly not coming from my window. It is of course the presence of a ghostly intruder, no doubt the victim of a ghastly murder. Yes, a murder committed in my house years ago (never mind the fact I know the original owner) but of course the truth was too grisly, too horrific to ever be told. So the story was buried, only to be remembered by the tortured ghost, intent on plaguing the living until the truth is revealed and the murderer (probably the mild mannered librarian next door-I watch CSI it's always the innocent-looking ones who are guilty) is caught and the ghost has her wicked vengeance.

Imagination. It's not for the faint of heart! Tell me a time when your imagination got the best of you!


  1. Great visual, Amanda! My imagination ran away with me last weekend when my husband was out of town. Around 9 pm, I was working in my office when I heard a loud clanking sound that seemed to come from the adjacent bathroom. The noise was too loud to be the house settling.

    My dog didn't seem bothered by the noise, but I knew if I didn't check it out I'd work myself up into a panic.

    The hardest part was opening my office door and looking into the corridor. Talk about hot flashes and imagination going wild!

    Of course I found nothing. I later figured out that the suction cup holding his back scrubber to the shower wall gave way. :)

  2. Hey, Amanda, great post! While stationed at Fort Meade, MD, I lived in an apartment complex in Glen Burnie. One night I was in the shower when all the lights went out. Psycho!

    Yep, that's just what I imagined. I opened my eyes and got soap all in them. My first thought as I stood in the pitch black, soap in eyes, trying to wash it out was that someone had gotten into my apartment and cut the electricity.

    It took the greatest willpower to leave the shower and see if all the lights in the complex were out. They were. I doubt I would have felt the sheer terror when the lights went out if I hadn't watched Psycho!

  3. Suffice it to say I slept with the light on until I was well into my thirties... while my young daughter slept in peaceful darkness just down the hall.

    I realized when I started writing fiction that the same mental agility that lets me spin romances is responsible for all those nights with the light on. This insight helps, but it doesn't entirely banish the rodents from the attic.

  4. Oh, my, Amanda. That brings back memories of the kidnapping night at the Brown household.I awoke when my third child was about a week old...summer time, no air conditioning, windows up...convinced that a man was lurking outside the window about to steal my child. I knew he was there. I could smell his shaving lotion! Woke Husband up and made him check every nook and cranny, even go outside to accost the baby snatcher, but alas, the man had run away. The next morning I found one of those little Avon samples lying just under my side of the bed!

  5. A few weeks ago, my husband was out late, so I didn't set the alarm when I went to bed. So I'm lying there, and I hear some noise (probably the AC coming on), and I sit up in bed and yell, "Who is it?" Um, it was nothing. I felt so stupid, but I could not go back to sleep until he got home.

  6. Tracey - that would have freaked me out too! I'm glad it was just a faulty suction cup!!

    Terry - showers will never be the same after Psycho! I have done the same thing when I heard a noise when I was in the shower, opened my eyes only to get soap in them! I'm glad it was only a pwer outage - very freaky timing!

    Grace - I'm am there with you sister! This imagination thing cuts both ways at times. I'm glad you are using your gift to write, even if you sleep with the lights on. I can't wait for your next release!!

  7. Carolyn - haha- I would have done the same thing! That reminds me of a time when I was a teenager and my parents were out of town. I actually called the police because I was absolutely convinced someone had broken into the house and was making horrible noises. Police came. No intruder found. Who knew grandma could snore so loud! :)

    Shana - I always feel more secure with my husband snoring beside me too!

  8. OK, you had me at the rodents of unusual size...being a big fan of the Princess Bride...that particular scene still creeps me out.

    Years ago, my hubby and I were house-sitting for my parents, who had recently moved up the street to my grandparent's home, when a noise woke me up. The darkened room was lit by moonlight and a movement off to the right caught my eye. A wisp of white slowly floated across the room while I watched and then disappeared through the front of the house.

    Scared spitless, I kept trying to remember who had died in my grandparent's home and realized only one great-grandmother...and she would never hurt me, so I was able to catch my breath and lie awake for the rest of the night. Funny thing my husband remembered dreaming that he'd seen a ghost that night.

  9. C. H. - that really is scary! Usually I find my imagination is just running away with me, but it sounds like you had a real ghostly encounter! I would have woken up my husband and made him stay awake with me! :)

  10. Oh, Amanda, great post! Writers are often blessed, and cursed, with vivid imaginations. It's why I avoid movies that are way too scary. :}