I’m glorying in the ability to do whatever I need or want to do without having to either a) consider how I was going to accomplish said need or want with three children in tow or b) feel guilty about leaving husband with said three children for extended periods of time. However, I have learned a few things, and I will share them with you now.
The Paranoid Writer’s Guide to Being Home Alone
• Take a shower before your family leaves.
Otherwise, your imagination will play with you while you’re in the shower, and your imagination is sadistic. You will be forced to tell yourself that raising your arm to shave your armpit will not result in showing the serial killer standing outside the shower where you are standing so he can stab you. You are no Janet Leigh. There is no serial killer standing outside your shower.
After you check (because maybe there is, and looking will save you in some magical way—you throw a mean shampoo bottle, and your razor is kinda dull, so you wouldn’t mind scraping it down his face, although that might just make him mad … let’s move on), you then have to tell yourself that there will not be some strange animal (it changes over the last ten minutes of your shower—first a dog, then a cat, then some mixture. See what I mean? Sadistic.) standing outside the tub when you turn off the water and pull the curtain back. And even if the animal is staring at you in a strangely sentient, creepy way, what’s it going to do? Bite you? Okay, that might hurt, but it doesn’t matter because there isn’t an animal sitting there (you checked again, of course).
• Play music or have the T.V. on.
Your imagination will take any opportunity to play its sick games with you, and that goes double for the creepy creaks and moans a building makes. It will even try to trick you, starting the thought as, “Ooh, that’d be a great story idea.” Then before you know it, you become the protagonist in the horror story your imagination just concocted. The creak that your imagination told you was a great short story about sentient rats hiding in the walls waiting for the perfect moment to burst forth through the air ducts now means that SENTIENT RATS ARE HIDING IN THE WALLS WAITING FOR THE PERFECT MOMENT TO BURST FORTH THROUGH THE AIR DUCTS AND EAT YOU. See? Your imagination is not just sadistic, but crafty. Be very careful.
• DO NOT work on that scary short story you are writing.
As above, it will take your imagination very little effort to make you the protagonist in your story, and you will be doomed to a sleepless night of ever-worsening vignettes from your dear friend Imagination. At some point, it may even turn to horrors being visited upon your traveling family, and since you can’t pull back the shower curtain to prove it wrong, you may end up curled in a ball in the corner, rocking back and forth and sucking your thumb.
• Turn on all the lights and never put your back to a dark corner or open door.
After all, maybe it's not your imagination.