The Uninvited Guest
Something made me stop as soon as I stepped into the room. I had been laughing with friends who’d slept over the night before, all of us on mattresses in the lounge, running into my bedroom to grab something. First, it was the smell – it hit me like a brick wall. Stale and sweaty and so out of place in the bedroom of a ten-year-old girl. Then, the sound – slow, rhythmic, and choking in places, unmistakably snoring from a person deep asleep. Lastly, as my eyes attuned to the dark, I spotted the figure laying in the bed. My bed.
I backed out of the room to report my findings to Mum…and complain about the smell. Being the youngest of six, it was plausible that one of my older brothers had brought a friend home after a night out. Mum lamented, “The poor thing, they didn’t even give him a blanket.” And with that, we went on with our morning business.
Soon enough, I heard my eldest brother call out, pleading with me to make him some eggs. “Does your friend want some too?”, I asked. “What friend?”, came the reply. After some back and forth, the decision was made the friend must belong to the second eldest brother, still to wake up. Out of interest, the eldest poked his head into the bedroom to put a face on this person, and came back out quickly.
“I’ve never seen that guy before”.
“What do you mean?”
“I know his friends, that guy is not one of them.”
After being woken, brother number two confirmed he did not know the man asleep in my bed. We stood and looked at each other, both of my parents and my eldest brothers, questions shooting back and forth as we tried to work out who this guy was and why he was in our house. My Dad, being the nicest man on Earth, immediately put the kettle on. Perhaps he was picturing his own sons in a similar scenario, or simply wanted to calm the situation as the accusatory talk and possible imaginings started. The eldest, at his point, decided to take control.
“Guess we better wake him up”, he says, striding into the room and throwing open the curtains. After some prodding, the sleeping man wakes. His face is puffy and covered with creases from the pillow. His bloodshot eyes immediately begin to water with the struggle of being open and trying to remain so. He clears his throat and coughs up what sounds like a part of his lung, wiping his shirt sleeve across his mouth. He looks around at the faces gawping at him, first in confusion, then in panic. He is sitting bolt upright now, patting down his hair and trying to focus his eyes and attention on the situation in which he has found himself. From the smell in the room, it’s clear he’s had a big night. From the look on his face, it’s clear he’s suffering from it.
“Who are you? Where am I?”, he stutters, pushing himself up on the bed and wiping the drool from his face. “Great question, mate. Why don’t you go ahead and answer it?”, comes the reply. He is totally miffed. He has NO IDEA where he is. You can almost see him sorting through his memory files from the night before, his mind’s eye wanting so badly to find some order but only finding empty files all in the wrong places. As I am ushered away from the doorway and the window is wrenched open (making him wince), he begins to recount the fragments that he can gather. He thought he had gone home to his house in the next suburb, walked in his parent’s front door, and gone into his room to bed.
After some back and forth, and being assured of his innocence, he is packed out on his way. My Dad never did give him that cup of tea, nor did he take the offer of a lift or a phone call. Not surprisingly, he just wanted to be out of there.
From then on, my parents didn’t leave the front door open for my brothers to get in when they were late. And I am so grateful that our friends were sleeping over that night, meaning I was not in bed to find that unexpected visitor in my room the middle of the night. But I do wonder just how the story sounds when he tells it.