Story, Travel

Tricia Has a Not-So-Near-Death Experience

March 2010
Fatick, Senegal

When my dear friend Lindsay paid good money to travel to Senegal while I lived there, I repaid her kindness by stepping on her glasses.  She simply taped them up and continued to help me hang mosquito netting over the air mattress we had set in the tiled foyer of my house.  My mom was visiting as well, and as the rules of seniority dictated, she got my bed in a private bedroom.

DSC00095After we had fallen asleep, a booming crash jolted me awake.  I was rigid with awareness, and just as I began to relax, the loud noise rang out again.  It felt loud enough to shake the house.

Beside me, Lindsay sat up and screamed, “What was that!?”  I rolled my eyes at her over-reaction, but as my sleep-addled brain caught up to reality, I realized I had a death-grip on her arm.  My mom ran out of my room to crouch outside our protective mosquito netting.

“Is that a normal noise?” she asked.

“No,” I answered, fear creeping into my voice.  “I mean, donkeys or something, yes.  But I have no idea what that was.”

“It sounded like your washing machine fell off a shelf,” Lindsay suggested.

“My washing machine is not on a shelf.”

“What if someone is trying to break through your gate?” Mom suggested.  Now that she mentioned it, the noise had sounded like a battering ram against our metal compound gate.  I stared at the dark windows two feet away, but I couldn’t see the flashlight beams of any thieves or assassins.  My mom hugged us through the netting.

“Liz!” I called.  “LIZ.”

My roommate stumbled out of the back room, rubbing her eyes.  “What is it?” she asked grumpily.

“Did you hear that crash?” I asked.

“No.”

Lindsay, Mom, and I all gasped.  “But it–it was so loud.”

Liz sighed.  “Do you want me to check outside?”

The three of us nodded desperately.  Liz had lived in Fatick a full year before I moved in with her.  She knew things.

Liz reemerged from her room with a flashlight.  She shone the light through the window and waved it across the yard twice.  “There’s nothing out there,” she announced, returning to her bedroom.

My mom still had her arms around Lindsay’s and my shoulders.  “Do you want me to pray for us?” she asked.

“Yes,” Lindsay said.  Mom prayed earnestly for our safety from…loud noises, then reluctantly went back to my room.  I let go of Lindsay’s arm and settled back into the mattress.  We lay there silently for several minutes.  Every normal sound suddenly felt dangerous.  Was that scraping sound someone crawling over the compound wall?  Were they going to tear away the window screen and shoot us from between the bars?

“Lindsay?  Are you still awake?” I whispered.

“Yeah,” she answered immediately.

“Do you want to…maybe move to the living room?” I suggested.

Yes.”

We left the netting hanging from the ceiling and dragged the mattress into the living room at the back of the house.  There was now a wall between us and the dreaded windows, but my feet could still be seen through the doorway.  I curled into the fetal position and prayed that God would save me.

He did, because when we woke up, the sun had lit the house and Liz was standing over Lindsay and me.  “Are you serious?” she asked.

“We were scared!” I insisted.

“Of a noise?” she asked.

“A loud noise.”

Lindsay held her broken glasses to her face and exclaimed, “Oh good.  We’re still alive!”

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