It was a cool, clean Friday morning. The kind of a morning you get out of bed just thankful to be alive. Sleep had been long and peaceful. Nothing of import in the night at all. I opened my eyes before my alarm had even gone off, and all felt right with the world. Looking over, I noticed Denisa’s side of the bed was empty. It caused me to pause for a moment, but then I remembered it was Friday, and that meant baking day.
“Probably already getting the loaves into the oven,” I thought, then took out my phone to enjoy a bit of leisurely email perusal since I didn’t have to worry about waking her up.
Once Facebook had been well and truly checked, I decided it was high time I got out of bed and got on with my day. Grabbing a change of clothes, I left the room and padded through the kitchen, expecting to say good morning to Denisa on my way through.
Except the lights were off, the oven was cold, and the only sound I could hear was the tick-tick-tocking of our kitchen clock.
I frowned. Maybe she’d gotten sick in the night and headed to the bathroom early? But the bathroom was empty as well.
The garden. It had to be that. She’d woken up, noticed how nice it was outside, and had decided to go get some weeding when it was still nippy. But I was a little worried now, because like I said: it was baking day, and that meant she’d been up late the night before getting those loaves ready. Staying up late and getting up earlier than I did? Not Denisa’s typical MO on a Friday. So I slipped on my robe and headed to the garage on my way to the garden.
But the garage door was closed. No chance Denisa had gone out that way and closed it behind her. The car was still there. She hadn’t driven off anywhere.
I went back inside and thought for a moment, checking the other rooms on the main floor. All of them empty, except for our living room, where the degus were merrily running on their wheel.
Had she gone up to check on the kids for some reason? They’d been quiet all night. Why would she do that?
Curiouser and curiouser.
I took off my slippers so that my 200 pound frame might have at least a chance of being quiet on the way up the stairs, which traditionally squealed like a frightened pig anytime I even thought about walking on them. They squealed this time too, but what can you do?
DC’s room comes first, and it decidedly just had DC in it. TRC’s room is next. He was sprawled on the bed, dead to the world. MC’s door was closed, and I might be foolhardy, but I know better than to summon the wrath of a sleepy three year old without good cause.
I glanced back at TRC. Maybe he knew something. A detective has to know when to turn to his snitches for information.
It took a prod or four to get TRC out of his slumber, and when he came to, he wasn’t quite with it. “What?” he mumbled.
“Where’s Mom?” I asked him.
“Mom. Where is she?”
“I don’t know.” He wouldn’t have known his name or the state we lived in right then, the way he was looking. Minecraft can wreck havoc on a twelve year old boy’s sleep patterns.
I needed to get more specific. “Is she in MC’s room?”
He blearily stared at MC’s door. “No.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. It was literally the last place in the house I hadn’t checked. Something was not right.
“I don’t know,” TRC said. “Maybe? What time is it?”
“Go back to bed.”
I snuck over to MC’s door and opened it as quietly as I could. Denisa was lying in MC’s bed, our daughter asleep but Denisa very much awake. Who knew what she was doing or why. I eased the door closed again and went back downstairs, my troubled mind at rest.
When I got out of the shower, Denisa was back in our room. “Can you believe last night?” she asked.
I blinked, my mind racing through what she might have been talking about. Last night had been, as I said before, nothing special. Quiet. Serene the whole time. “Why?” I asked. Better to keep myself non-committal until I knew what I may or may not have believed.
“You didn’t wake up at all?”
When asked a direct question like by your wife, the time for non-committal is past. “No,” I said. “What happened?”
“MC was up three times, crying. TRC came down each time to get us. I had to keep going upstairs to comfort her, and I didn’t get to bed until after midnight from all the dough. You didn’t hear a thing?”
There’s a reason my sleep had been so deep, it seemed. Denisa was covering for me the whole time. The kids have been trained over the years that when the rubber meets the road, the person you want to go to is Mom. Dad? He sleeps with ear plugs in. Mom? She hears a butterfly sneeze.
Anyway. Thanks for being on kid duty, Denisa. You’re an awesome parent! Glad I don’t have to put my sleuthing skills to work on anything really serious. I might be in real trouble then . . .