Home Alone


Silence has a ringing sound and it’s deafening. It peals louder than your thoughts. One morning, I woke to the silence of an empty house.

I don’t know what woke me up, maybe it was a ghost whispering in my ear, but when my eyes flew open, my heart was beating harder than ice pellets in a hailstorm and the house was as still and as silent as a grave. There were no soft voices. There was no sound of cleared throats. There wasn’t even the sound of shuffling feet, but there was the crash and clang of silent bells going off in my head and the loud boom of tom tom drums beating in my chest.

At first I lay still in bed feeling like I was trapped in the eye of a storm waiting for an intruder to pop up by my bedside, but when the seconds ticked by without any movement, I threw back the covers and clambered out of bed. In the still house, the sound of my feet hitting the floor chafed my nerves.

“Mom?” I called out. No one responded. Usually at my home, the house was lively in the morning. My mom played loud gospel music every morning and she sang constantly at the top of her lungs. This morning, I could sense that something was wrong.

Listening for strange sounds, as alert as a cat, I tiptoed to the door of my bedroom and then slipped into the corridor.

Out in the hallway, I stumbled upon our pet dog, Rover, who was standing sentry outside my bedroom door.

“Roof!” he barked happily when he saw me, his tail wagging so hard the lower half of his body moved.

Rover’s bark echoed, disrupting the silent din. It sounded like a voice in a wishing well: roof, roof, roof. Still, I was relieved to see him. I knelt by his side and ruffled his fur while he plastered my face with wet kisses.

“Where’s Mom?” I asked him, but of course he couldn’t tell me.
“Mom?” I called again. There was still no response, except now I could distinctly hear Rover’s panting. I wasn’t as scared as I had been before when I thought I was absolutely alone, but I was still scared.

“Come boy,” I said, standing once again and rubbing my arms. Out in the drafty corridor barefoot and in a thin nightgown, I missed the warm comfort of my sheets.

“Come on, boy,” I beckoned to Rover and tiptoed down the corridor towards our living room. In the shadows of the hallway, I was a little mouse, creeping from room to room, snooping and sniffing the air to be sure it was safe. Each room I entered was devoid of human presence. By themselves, the furniture held conference, each piece cold and imposing.

In the living room, a window had been left open and the thin lace curtains billowed in the wind which sighed outside.

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There was an opened newspaper and unfinished cup of tea on the coffee table, but no one was there to read or drink the contents of the cup. Fear wrapped icy fingers around my heart.

I wanted to cry. My mother never ever left me alone. I couldn’t imagine what could have happened to make her leave in such a haste this time. I sat glumly on the sofa and blinked rapidly, trying to force my tears back in, but I couldn’t. Tears are strange. Once you start thinking of crying, there’s nothing you can do to stop yourself.

As I sat morosely, thinking of myself as an orphan all alone in the world, I heard a car come screeching to a stop in the streets outside. Then there was a loud bang, a horn beeping and the sound of a car speeding off again with a loud vroom. Just then, Rover, who had come to lie at my feet, lifted his head and stared at the door, ears raised.

“Sh, boy,” I whispered. I stood and crept to the window, hoping to peek outside. One careful step after another, I edged closer. I was just about three steps away when a floorboard creaked. I yelped and almost leaped out of my skin. My heart was now a frenzied band of drums.

“It’s the boards,” I told myself and prepared to start on tiptoe again, but this time, just as I leaned forward, just as I was about to lift my foot gently off the floor, someone tapped my shoulder. I squeaked. I swear, I died and came back to life.
“Kalifa!” It was my mom. “Relax, it’s just me.”

In relief, I turned around and threw my arms around my Mom, this time sobbing loudly.

“I thought you had left,” I wailed. “I woke up and I was at home alone and I was so afraid.”

“I’m sorry,” My mom said, and she held me close, her cheeks next to mine. It was only then that I realized that she was dressed and that her face next to mine was cold with tears that hadn’t quite dried. I looked at her inquiringly.

“It’s Grandpa,” she sniffled. “He’s gone.”


My heart was now a frenzied band of drums.

This line really stood out for me. A great descriptor. 🥁