Rotary phone off hook I woke up to what sounded like a stifled scream outside my bedroom. I ran into the hallway but all was quiet. I was about to go back to bed when my eyes settled on something that looked amiss in the living room.

A few steps closer told me it was the silhouette of a toy piano flipped oddly over on it’s side. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I made out a toppled figurine on the credenza and a pile of coffeetable books that had spilled to the floor. The contents of a toy chest had been picked through and strewn haphazardly about the room. Couch cushions were angled out of place. Lastly, my purse lay overturned on the carpet, its contents littered like a broken pinata.

Immediately, I grabbed the phone and dialed “911”.

I gave the operator my address and explained that there had been a robbery.

“Is the intruder still in the house?”

I stopped in my tracks. Listened. To my horror, I could hear breathing in the next room.

My voice dropped to a whisper. “Yes.”

“Did you see who it was?”

I paused to think. “Yes.”

“Can you describe the intruder please?”

I cupped my hand over my mouth and spoke softly, “She has brown hair, hazel eyes, is small in stature— about 27″ and 21lbs.”

“Can you tell me exactly what was stolen?”

I hadn’t yet done a full inspection but I took a deep breath and assessed the damage as best I could.

“It appears she has stolen my mornings, my social life, my sleep, my weekends, my home decor aesthetic, my ability to take a leisurely shower, and my desire to shop for myself.”

“Mmhm, mmhm, anything else?”

“My downtime, all opportunities for spontaneity, the concept of laziness, assorted vacation possibilites, the brightness that used to be in my once well-rested eyes, adult topics of conversation, bathroom privacy, and the ability to use road trips as a chance to catch up on sleep.”

“Ok. Got it. Is that all?”

“My alone time with my husband, the attention span required to sit through a movie, my relationships with many childless friends, my career, my grooming rituals, my closet space, personal indulgences, acts of selfishness, the time and energy needed to go to the gym and a very large portion of my sanity.”

“Is that everything?”

“My boobs. She has also taken my boobs.”

“OK, ma’am. I don’t want to alarm you. But often in these instances, the perpetrator has also taken the desire to have a second child. Do you want to take a moment to see if that’s still there?”

I lay the phone on the counter and walked toward the door to the nursery. With practiced silence, I pushed it open and tiptoed to the edge of the crib, terrified with each creak of the floor.

She was on her stomach, her head turned to one side. A soft strand of honey-colored hair fell across her forehead as a pacifier hung loosely between her lips. She cradled her blankie in the crook of her arm and as always had the frayed corner pressed against her right temple. Her legs were splayed out, one bent slightly. I leaned in close to see the rise and fall of her back. The sound of her breathing gave a hint to the voice I had come to know.

I breathed with her.

Then I backed out of the room as quietly as I had come, returned to the counter and picked up the phone.

“My desire to have a second child is still here.”

“OK. Would you like to come into the police office to file an official report?”

“No. Not just yet.”


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