Home Invasion

There’s a moment, early in the morning, when the birds sing, the sun rises, and dreams end.
“Did you hear that?” she asks.
I open my eyes. I hear a whoosh—then another. “There’s whispering outside our window,” she says.
I’m half-asleep, but no longer dreaming. I hear banging in the kitchen.
“There! Did you hear that?” she says.
I nod my head. “Yes, I did . . .” The dog at the foot of our bed starts growling, a malevolent growl. Outside, a quail sounds a warning: “Chicago, Chicago!” it seems to say. My wife, hearing the warning, grabs her phone to dial 911.
“Be careful,” she says softly as I pull myself up to investigate.
I look out the window, relieved to see the sprinklers on and the plants—tomatoes, spinach, onions, radishes—all drinking deeply. There are no animals, no humans, just the quail.
We creep into the hall. The banging is now coming from the living room, and it’s getting louder. “It sounds like we’re getting cleaned out,” I whisper.
I’m about to tell her to dial, and then we hear it—the distinct sound of a cavalry charge. The Roomba, our little iRobot vacuum, finishes its rambling and retreats to its docking station.
Our bodies, chock-full of adrenalin though, are wide-awake. The house is safe. The floors are clean.

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