Yesterday afternoon, I was working in my office when I heard the kids running into the house with our Au Pair, Heather.
“Mommy, mommy!” Shaila ran in yelling. “Heather is going to be sick!”
I looked up and over at Heather, whose face was three shades paler than her already fair Welsh complexion. She looked at me apologetically.
“I’m so sorry, Kiran. I am not at all well.”
Except when she said it, it didn’t sound like “not at all well.” It sounded like “naht aht ahll wehll,” with her sing-songy Welsh accent. Which I guess still sounds pretty sing-songy even when she is about to be sick.
Now, Heather never gets sick. Well, not really. Other than being a little hungover on some weekend mornings, she is pretty much in top form all the time.
So this was news.
“Go.” I told her. “Get in bed right now.” I sent her upstairs. She looked so miserable she didn’t even turn around.
Soon, the rest of us had dinner and started going through the evening rituals of bathing and bedtime stories. After we got the kids to bed, I went in to check on Heather.
Her room was pitch black. She was bundled up under the covers, shivering and looking even more pale than before. I could tell without asking that I shouldn’t ask her about eating, so I told her to call me if she needed anything and let myself quietly out of her room.
“Feel better, hon. Love you,” I said.
“Love you…” and she was out.
I shut the door and finished up some work I needed to do and then went upstairs to ask John something. He was upstairs in our bedroom sitting area, watching television and checking emails. I sat on the floor facing him and we were catching up on the day when we heard a door open.
John and I looked at each other, thinking if it was one of the kids getting out of bed, who was going to call “Not it!” first. But it wasn’t the kids. It was Heather.
“Yeah, hon. Do you need something?” I thought she might need help or need me to get her something.
“There is a man and woman in my room and I did not invite them. Did you?“
Huh? What the hell? I looked over at John.
“She’s sleepwalking.” He told me. “Just go put her back to bed.“
I looked at Heather. Her eyes were red and she seemed very upset about the intruders in her room. She had a bit of a petulant tone in her voice as she whispered loudly, almost accusingly, “They said you said they could come in.“
“Who?” I asked.
“The man and woman! They’re in there,” she said, pointing at her room into the right corner.
“No, honey. Don’t worry. Show me where they are. I’ll make them leave.”
“Yes, please. Thank you.” It’s good to know she is polite even when she is sleepwalking. I will have to let her parents know.
So we went back to her room where I tried to settle her back in bed. I was pretty scared at this point because now I was thinking that Heather might have a sixth sense and see dead people and all that. She sat in her bed and looked in the corner of her room, shaking her head as if to admonish her dead people. She looked up at me, and I realized she expected me to protect her.
I looked at the corner where there is a chair with some pillows on it and a bookshelf. No people. Not that I could see anyway.
“Uhhh. Hey. You. Um. You need to leave now.” I told nobody in the corner.
I looked over at Heather who still didn’t appear satisfied. She shook her head at me to let me know she was unimpressed with how I handled intruders.
“Um. Nobody told you to come in. Now go. Scoot!” I looked at Heather who nodded her head at me. Ok, she’s happy now, I thought. I watched Heather watching them leave, her eyes crossing the room, monitoring their progress, it seemed.
I pretended to watch my new imaginary friends leave, but was really giving death looks to John who was standing behind me in the hall and not bothering to help at all.
“And DON’T come back,” I said at their imaginary backs, pausing for effect to give them time to walk down the stairs and to the front door before I looked back at Heather.
“They’re gone. They said they’re sorry they bothered you and they hope you feel better.” I hoped I wasn’t over-doing it. I wanted to let her know that even dead people have manners but I didn’t want to cross the line and have her think they were so nice that she’d want to go drinking with them or anything.
She smiled, gave an audible sigh of relief, and fell back to sleep under her covers, obviously exhausted from the drama of it all.
As you probably guessed. I was pretty freaked out. I contemplated sending Heather’s mom an email in Wales, but I wasn’t sure what I would say.
“Hi Jayne! Heather is doing great. She just has a little bug. Oh and does your daughter have a sixth sense? Just wondering. So what’s the weather like in Caerphilly? Lots of love from America!“
I decided not to and to just make sure Heather got lots of rest.
“Do you think Heather has some weird thing where she sees ghosts?” John asked later on, laughing. I kept expecting Heather to come back and tell me there was a traveling band or something hanging out in her room. All the corners and dark spaces of our room started to look ominous.
“No,” I said, thinking the exact opposite, of course.
“What if it’s like “The Sixth Sense” and there are dead people beating her up in bed?” he said. “Shouldn’t we check on her?“
“Shut up, honey.”
“What if we go downstairs and all the cabinets are open? Would you think it was her friends?“
“Shut up, John!“
I felt really bad thinking about Heather getting beat up by dead people but I figured that I could help her the next morning with band-aids and ice and stuff. I wasn’t going back in there again last night.
I didn’t sleep very well last night. As a matter of fact I didn’t sleep at all. Just in case I had to walk any more unexpected guests out in the middle of the night.
Just in case anyone is concerned, Heather did not have any bruises when I checked on her this morning and she is on the mend. She is getting lots of sleep and I am keeping her away from all sharp objects.
And we are not watching any horror movies in this house for a really long, long time.