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Just the House Settling

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Does your house creak and moan at night?

Everyone has experienced that moment in childhood; you’re lying awake in bed at night, not quite asleep but not quite awake either, when you hear it. A creak, like someone taking a step on the floor. Your whole body jerks awake, and you become hyper-aware of your surroundings.

Then, you really start to hear it.

Another creak, then another. Creak, creak, creeeeeeak. Footsteps. Are they getting closer, or moving farther away? That's when the groans start. It sounds like the house is about to collapse right on top of you, and seal whatever is inside with you forever. So, you cry and run into your parents’ bedroom. They hug you, calm you down, and tell you that it’s just the house settling. They dry your tears, tuck you back in, kiss your forehead goodnight, and turn the lights out and go back to bed. Next time you hear the groans and the creaks, you take comfort in what your parents told you. "It’s just the house settling," you repeat to yourself, over and over again.

But that raises the question; have you ever heard the house "settling" during the day? Have you ever, once, heard the unique moans and groans your home makes at night while the sun still shines? But you ignore it all, wrapping yourself in the cloak of solace in the words your parents muttered to you so many years before. "It’s just the house settling. It’s just the house settling."

Then, one day, you have your own children and they run into your bedroom, crying about the monster in the house. Tired and wanting to go back to sleep, you mindlessly repeat the same mantra your parents told you. "It’s just the house settling." The whole while, you try to ignore the twisting in your gut every time you hear the same sounds, which seem to only come out at night. The same sounds which have stalked you since your own childhood.

That leaves one last question.

When an infant dies without warning in his crib, they call it Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. When a young and healthy athlete doesn’t wake up one morning, they call it Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome. When a senior citizen passes on in the night, they call it natural causes. The last question is this: Do you think they heard the footsteps too?

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