© 2012 Aaron Atkinson

Don’t Be Alarmed

I set my alarm for four in the morning. I’ve arranged an early morning bird hunt and expect to be home and napping by noon. I flick off the lamp, fluff the pillow, close my eyes and head towards five hours of sleep.

I hear it a moment before feeling it. It’s one thirty in the morning when the smoke alarm chirps its low-battery warning. Indie has always been terrified of this noise, and in a shaking spasm of fear she leaps onto the bed, and onto my groin, looking for safety.

Tired, cold, sore and cranky I slide out of bed and make my way downstairs into the kitchen. Instead of replacing the battery, I remove the alarm from the ceiling, take out the battery, put it on the counter and head back to bed.

Laura’s awake.

Laura: Did you change the battery?

Me: No. I just unplugged it. I’ll change the battery in the morning.

She suddenly perks up.

Laura: You mean there’s no smoke alarm on the main level?

Me: That’s right. But there are three up here. Smoke rises. We’ll be fine.

I’m cranky and tired of talking.

Laura: But what if a fire breaks out tonight and, alarmless, we die in our sleep?

Me: It’s one thirty in the morning. Unless you plan on cooking in the next four hours, we’ll be fine for tonight and I’ll replace the battery tomorrow.

Laura: But what if there’s a fire tonight and we die?

Me: Then I’ll be out of my sleepless, cold, groin-aching, midnight-debating misery. If you’d like to change the battery yourself, there’s a bunch on the shelf in the basement.


Laura: Tomorrow sounds fine.


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