A crazy long time ago, Mr. Peevie and I lived sweetly together in brick Georgian on a tree-lined street in the Windy City. Our time and our money were our own; we didn't have any children yet, and we were enjoying our lives and each other.
And then, one day, a stranger entered our home, and our peaceful lives were interrupted, changed forever.
I know what you're thinking. A baby. But you would be wrong. Can I finish telling my story, now?
We had gone away for the weekend--which used to be uncomplicated, relaxing, enjoyable, and affordable. We came home late on a Sunday evening. As we carried our weekend bags into the living room, and walked through to the dining room, Mr. Peevie and I both started getting a creepy feeling. Things were a little off.
There were smears of dirt on the window sills, for example, that weren't there before. And the lid had been removed from the box of chocolates in the middle of the dining room table, a couple of chocolates were partially eaten, and the remains scattered around the table.
"Somebody's been here," Mr. Peevie said nervously.
"Somebody might still be here," I replied. We both froze, looked around, and listened for the footsteps of an axe-murderer. Either he was very, very quiet, or he'd already left the premises.
We called the police, and five minutes later about six huge cops were stomping through the house, checking the doors and windows, shining flashlights into closets, and examining the smears on the window sill.
"Do you have a dog?" one officer asked.
"Do you have a friend with a dog, who might have come over while you were gone?" he pursued. "It looks to me like someone came over with an animal." We were pretty sure this was not the case.
"Well, then," the cops agreed, "it looks like an animal got in somehow." They suggested that we check the chimney in the morning, because sometimes animals got in that way.
We climbed upstairs to our bedroom, feeling tired but safe, happily reassured that we wouldn't be bludgeoned in our sleep by a stealthy serial killer.
I threw my PJs on and stretched out on the bed, while Mr. Peevie started to unpack his bag. I got into my comfort zone, lying supine and curling my arms under my pillow for head support--my favorite, non-approved sleep position. My hands encountered something unexpected, and I lifted my pillow to check it out.
"Eww! Mr. Peevie, look!" I yawped. "I think a squirrel made a nest under my pillow, for crap's sake!" A nesty-looking circle of dustbunnie-gray fur circumstantially testified against the formerly white sheet. "That's so disgusting!"
Mr. Peevie agreed, and suggested that I change the sheets so that we wouldn't have to sleep in squirrel grit. Meanwhile, he slid open the mirror-covered sliding door on the wall-to-wall closet--the glory of our bedroom!--and reached up to put a sweater on the shelf.
Suddenly, a ball of gray fur shot off the shelf, right toward Mr. Peevie, who screamed like a pack of little girls and leaped like an Olympic gymnast up and back away from the closet. The furball flew over his right shoulder, landed on the floor, and rocketed right out the open door, with Mr. Peevie yelling for his momma the whole time.
I hadn't moved from the bed; I sat, stunned, not so much by the appearance of a squirrel in my boudoir, but by the dramatic display of athleticism and phobic mania from Mr. Peevie. I had never seen that man move so quickly or leap so powerfully. Nor had I any idea, after 10 years of marriage, that he was deathly afraid of tiny rodents with fluffy tails.
This story is not over. You'll have to tune in tomorrow for the big finish.