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Stranger in the Room

February 1998

In the late summer of 1990, my husband and I were given the lofty roles of landlords when we acquired an old duplex in Illinois. In October, after a considerable amount of remodeling we moved into the upstairs apartment. From the day we moved in I never felt content with living there. It wasn't long before I started seeing what appeared to be a figure of a man moving very quickly, out of the corner of my eye and quite often I had the sense of being watched. Also our dog, a fearless Doberman named "Nubs", growled at empty rooms and walls. He often seemed to place himself between me and some unseen danger. Yet I dismissed all this. After all, eyes can play tricks, and this dog used to chase flashlight beams as if they were tangible. I dismissed it until one warm spring night. My daughter, Paige, was about 3 at the time, and she had been in bed sleeping for several hours. I was on the couch reading a book when I heard a bloodcurdling scream come from Paige's room. I ran to her bedroom and as I got closer I heard the dog's growls mixed with my daughters screams. Thinking that the dog had "snapped" and was attacking my baby, I entered the room ready to kill. Once in her room I saw that she was safe. The dog was in the doorway of the closet that connected her room to the master bedroom. Nubs stood there growling as Paige screamed that there was someone in her room. I calmed her down and then walked about her room asking her to show me where this person was. She was trembling and big fat tears rolled down her face as she pointed to me and said, "He's right behind you." I looked from her to the dog that was still poised for attack. The dog was looking not at me, but behind me. Suddenly, the air grew cold around me. I felt what only could be described as a mild electric shock running up my spine. As the coldness permeated me I had this sensation of intense loneliness. Within an instant I felt as if I was going to weep. Not cry, as we know it, but weep so sorrowfully that I can almost feel the ache today. I had to get out of that room, so I swooped up my daughter and ran out into the living room. After she finally fell asleep on the couch, I went back to her room. I stood there in a rage and spoke into thin air, "I don't care who or what you are, you will not scare or harm my baby ever again."

We lived in that apartment for another year. During that time the dog still protected us by growled at walls and empty rooms, and I had the increasing sense of not being "alone", but Paige was never bothered again.

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