bump in the night

This whole house speaks. It creaks and yawns around me as I move, tiptoeing across the floor from the softly curled apostrophe of my daughter’s sleeping form. A comma, a pause, she never quite hits full stop.

The doors sing on their hinges, need slamming into their frames. Three floors of ancient pipes clunk and bang when you turn on the tap, before the merry chuckle of water splashing into the bowl. The AGA ticks with steady heat.
It’s a noisy house, but never a scary one; instead, it’s like it’s talking to us.

We’ve been here a year, more or less. We first saw it on a cold and sunny spring day, drove through the hills on roads that felt impossibly twisty and wild. Now, it all feels ordinary – not mundane, but a familiar and easy everyday.


I think back to the noises of my childhood home, a 1930s semi on an amber-lit suburban street. The noises there were cleanly predictable: the hiss of the patio doors, the pipes on the landing at night. Downstairs on a Saturday morning, the thump of my mother’s footfall above, trying to gaugue her mood from her gait. The vacuum of noise before the front door slam.
Noise in that house was rarely safe.

In my first adult home I awoke, alone one night to the scratching of nails on the wall by my head. It was unmistakable, like a dog on a tiled floor, and I snapped on the light in pure & visceral terror.
It turned out to be a squirrel inside the wall cavity, though I’m not sure anyone really believed me until the neighbours had it too. I barely it beleived myself.

It’s hard to say what’s changed: maybe it’s me, older and wiser, but I like to think it’s this house. I’m not one for woo, but it seems that this is a place that wraps its arms around you each evening. Maybe that’s imagination, just a trail of association from positive experience, but I don’t really mind. I’m just happy to let it sing to me; a gentle lullaby of bumps in the night.