After a long week of exams, I looked forward to last weekend. I planned to have a party to celebrate end of exams and my birthday. It was the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends, most of whom I had avoided to ensure time to study. Boyfriend intended treating me to the leather jacket I pined after. Was it any wonder I was excited? My weekend was going to be the perfect finalé to a long, arduous few months. Like all good things, they usually don’t happen as planned.
On Saturday morning, Boyfriend and I set off for Dundrum to buy the jacket. Despite suffering tiredness from a Friday night of drinking and dancing, I was excited. I skipped to the Massimo Dutti store with glee. My heart dropped when the store assistance told me the jacket was out of stock. I had fixated on that jacket since my encounter with it in London. It was to be my reward for my laborious few months. Needless to say I returned home from Dundrum disappointed. I consoled myself with the party that evening. I climbed out of the car and opened the hall door. The door swung open. I spotted a small blue card on the small table.
“Look at that!” I said. “There’s an Oyster Card on the sideboard. That will come in handy for the tube this weekend when we are in London.” I walked ahead of Boyfriend into the kitchen. The light was on. I thought nothing of it.
“Eh, Stephen …” Boyfriend called. “Did you mess around with the contents of the sideboard in the hall?”
“Of course not,” I exclaimed. “Why would I do that?”
I walked into the kitchen. The kitchen cupboard doors were open. It looked strange. A cold chill ran down my spine. Ohhhh, it looks like we had a poltergeist, I thought. I continued to assess the situation. My housemate had recently moved out. She was due to come back and collect some personal effects. Wow, she did a really thorough search of the place. The cogs in my head whirred. When I think back, everything seems to have happened in slow motion. I surveyed the kitchen; the window was open. Boyfriend was still in the hall cursing profusely and rummaging through the white, wooden unit.
“What the fuck happened here?” I heard him yell from the hall.
“You might want to come in here,” I called from the kitchen. He arrived by my side and looked around. “I think someone broke into the house while we were out.”
He stared in disbelief. “No way! No fucking way.”
He left my side and ran to the bedroom. I remained in the kitchen with a rock in the pit of my stomach. He roared and shouted. I looked in the kitchen cupboards. Things were moved. An impostor had rummaged through our things. I scanned the dining area. Many items were disturbed; a cupboard that stores alcohol was open; a bottle of aftershave was in a new place; letters were open; and CDs were knocked from the rack. An eerie, cold feeling swept over me. Boyfriend returned to my side evidently stressed. He rubbed his forehead.
“You should see the bedroom. They’ve gone through everything. The laptop is still here and your camera is on the table. They don’t appear to have taken much. How did they get in? Was the kitchen window open when we left?”
“I don’t think so,” I replied, straining my memory. Had it been open? Was I to blame for this oversight? I asked myself. Guilt accompanied the rock in my stomach.
“How the fuck did they get in?” he asked in a bemused manner.
I went upstairs. I tiptoed and checked nobody was still in the house. I peeped into our bedroom. It was by far the worst of all rooms. Every wardrobe, box and personal item had been ransacked. My passport lay on the floor. My tax credit certificate and payslips were strewn around the room. It made for an upsetting sight. The mental image of some dirty knacker going through my underwear drawer and personal documentation made me sick. I couldn’t bear to remain there. I went down stairs and took a cross legged position in the living room. I remained there for almost an hour. The reality of the situation gradually sunk in. I felt light-headed and nauseous. I called friends to cancel the birthday/end of exam celebrations scheduled for that night. I recall having a few conversations.
Boyfriend called the Gardaí. Together we waited for their arrival. Now and again, Boyfriend returned to the bedroom to perform a stock take of missing items. We also played Nancy Drew by attempting to figure out how they gained entry. I walked about the house in a state of numbness. It were as if floated on a cloud of total disbelief. The Gardaí eventually arrived. They were dressed as by-standards. In reality, they were dressed like individuals from a lower socio-economic background. Their appearance leant towards characters that were more likely to rob a store than uphold justice in a community. Boyfriend walked them around the house, directing them to the various injustices. They looked at the kitchen and asked if any food was missing. Apparently, it was not uncommon for intruders to steal food. They knew of one case where an intruder had even cooked a meal in a house. Boyfriend led the Gardaí to the bedroom. From downstairs I could hear them talking. I still hovered on my cloud, which by now had taken me into the kitchen. I re-examined the evidence again. I checked the open window and contents of the food cupboards. I looked into one of the cupboards and noticed something was missing. I became panicked. I ran to the hall.
“Boyfriend, Boyfriend” I shouted.
The Gardaí were at the bottom of the stairs beside the hall door. They looked at me a little wide eyed.
“Eh, I think your friend wants you” said one of the men.
I beckoned Boyfriend to the kitchen. One of the Gardaí followed him.
“What is it?” Boyfriend asked in a surprisingly calm manner.
I pointed to the shelf of the cupboard. “Look! The flour is gone. They took the baking flour.”
Boyfriend laughed. “It’s OK. I moved that last week.”
“Oh!” I answered a little stupidly.
The Garda remained in the kitchen. He neutralised the awkwardness; “We can remove any bakers from the list of possible culprits”.
“I suppose,” I said, while looking down at the floor. I felt a bit stupid.
The Gardaí departed and told us a forensics team would call in a couple of hours. Before leaving, they figured the intruder(s) had jammed the hall door open with a screw driver. The intruder opened the window in the kitchen as an escape route. Boyfriend and I spent the rest of the evening waiting for the forensic team, or forensic man as it turned out. He dusted down many surfaces with a black powder in search of finger prints. He spilt some on the wooden flooring of our bedroom. The black powder stain is very difficult to remove. The worst thing about the experience is that nothing appears to have been taken. The only item that was stolen is our feeling of security in our home. Since Saturday, Boyfriend and I have spent a few sleepless nights in the house. I realise it will get easier with time. It truly is a horrifying experience.