Animals in the Attic
I woke up at 5:30 in the morning because of a scratching sound above my head, coming from the attic. It sounded like a squirrel trying to stack acorns. Which is different from the time that it sounded as if a serial killer was dismembering a corpse in our attic. Still, as much as I didn’t want a serial killer in the attic (likely a man and likely someone who hadn’t bathed in weeks and likely someone who was going to track bloody chunks of intestine through my house), I also really really really didn’t want a squirrel. Or a bat. Or a mouse. Or an opossum (which is only one step above a cricket, in my book).
I went into the hallway to see if I could still hear the sound, and there it was, a tiny pattering, a scratching. I went back in the bedroom and woke up Josh.
“There’s a noise,” I told him.
He sat up in bed to listen, heard it too, inexplicably went to turn on the light (why? So we could see the animal’s face poking out from the ceiling as it gnawed its way through the attic floor?), turned back off the light when I hissed at him, and then grabbed his phone to Google for answers on what to do, missing the bed as he tried to sit down because I had made him turn off the lights.
Meanwhile, the squirrel gleefully danced around his acorn structure.
Back in college, I had a friend who wrote a short story called “Bats.” It was about a husband waiting for his wife to come home so he could confront her about her infidelity, and in the meantime, his young son has woken up due to a noise and wants his father to investigate. The dad lies in his son’s bed with him, waiting for the noise, contemplating the worth of changing the course of their lives by leaving his wife.
That’s what I was thinking about as we Googled. That the dad was awfully calm in that story. He wasn’t nearly focused enough on the bat in his attic. And while, yeah, I get that the rest of his life was falling apart, it turns out that when you hear an animal in your attic, you drop all that other shit and Google. You focus on the animal that has moved into your home, not the animals (human or otherwise) outside your abode.
We decided that the sound didn’t fit the description of a raccoon. And it didn’t fit the whispers of bats who apparently don’t scurry at all but sound more like someone rubbing their finger against the wall. It was probably a squirrel or a mouse.
“We’ll go up in the morning,” Josh decided.
“After the kids go to school because we’re never telling them about this,” I agreed.
Josh set up the ladder while I was out at drop-off, and when I came home, he grimly climbed up while I stood in the hallway with my hands clasped over my mouth saying over and over again, “What if something runs out? I will diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie if something runs out.”
Nothing ran out. He explored the attic and save for a tiny hole near the roof that he covered with duct tape (and said had been there since we bought the house) and a patch of wall where we could see the siding (again, apparently there since we bought the house, though that doesn’t seem good, does it?), there was nothing unusual in the attic. No gnaw marks on the bags of clothes in storage. No animal droppings. And no acorn sculptures.
No sign that anything had been there at all.
He set a trap anyway and climbed back down.
It’s possible that the sounds were on the roof as they were last time with the crow. It’s entirely possible that if I had remembered that blog post at 5:30 in the morning vs. when I sat down to write this that Josh would have gone outside, seen an animal on the roof, and we could have saved ourselves a trip inside the attic. Or it’s possible that we’re going to be lying in bed one night in the not too distant future and hear the sharp snap of a trap closing.
It’s time like these that I wonder if it’s worth being a home owner. Aside from the ability to decorate as we please and build equity in a piece of property, there are so many drawbacks to home ownership that I sometimes think that we would have been better off renting. This could have been someone else’s problem.
Instead it is ours. It is one of those things you never think about as a kid when you’re waiting to grow up. The twins talk about how they’ll be able to have cookies for breakfast when they’re an adult and not go to school and stay up late. But they never gleefully exclaim, “And I’ll be forced to deal with animals living in my attic at 5:30 in the morning!”
It sucks to be an adult.