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A short tale about a long night

Yesterday I woke up at 4 am after 2.5 hours of sleep to discover that Daughter was not yet home from the school formal she’d gone to.

It was [is] the major event of the year at her school. Everyone had Thursday and Friday off, and the day began early with a premiere of the school musical at 10 am. After that she went for brunch with her classmates and hung out with them, playing board games, etc. She came home in the late afternoon and got dressed, then I drove her to a restaurant where she was meeting her class for dinner [they invited their teacher out] – then she was going to a party, and then to the dance, which was being held at this venue called Broadway.

She was ridiculously badly dressed, of course – the weather has been appalling here these past couple of days and she had on her new [vintage] sleeveless dress with stiletto pumps and no stockings. I managed to talk her into borrowing my wool coat [she was going to just wear a shawl since she didn’t have a proper coat of her own] and held my breath when she made her way precariously to and from the car, as the ground was covered with snow and ice and, well, stiletto pumps don’t have a great deal of traction. The dance was due to finish at 3 am and I told her to come straight home, but on the off chance that she went home with her off-and-not-quite-on-again boyfriend to make sure to let me know, and she agreed.

Cut to the part where I wake up at 4 am. I checked my cellphone – no text message. I got up, called her cell. No answer. I sent a message: WHERE ARE YOU??? – then crawled back into bed, waiting for a response. None came. I lay awake for an hour. Got up – called again. No answer. Decided that eating a little something might help me sleep [what a delusion]. Called her phone a couple more times. Got back into bed, closed eyes, tried to stave off images of worst-possible-scenarios that persisted in floating through my head. Like last New Year’s Eve, for instance, a 19-year old kid walked home from that very venue alone and was found drowned the next day, having somehow fallen into the Elliðaá river. And in December, the sister of a friend went to a bar in downtown Reykjavík and someone slipped one of those date-rape pills into her beer. She managed to call her boyfriend just before she passed out, and by the time he came to get her, her wallet had been stolen. Need I detail the horrific visions that went through my mind as I lay there at 5.20 am, wide awake, wondering where the hell my daughter was? I think not.

By 6 am I’d realized that lying in bed was the worst possible thing to do [my imagination was running rampant] so I decided I might as well get up and try to work. In between I kept calling, pondering at what point I should contact the police, how I could go about finding out the phone numbers of AAH’s friends, and wondering – not for the first time – at what point those poor parents who had lost their son had decided that something was seriously wrong.

Around 6.45 EPI woke up [he’d missed all this] and assumed the voice of reason. There must be a good explanation, he said. She’d stayed over somewhere [‘yes, but why didn’t she let me know when it was the last thing I asked her to do…’ etc.] and anyway, her friends had been with her and would not have let her go anywhere by herself. No, she had not walked home, she couldn’t anyway in those shoes. No, she had not been raped in the bathroom [‘Yes, but that happened at another school dance…’ etc.] and no, she was not passed out in a snowbank from a date-rape pill. She’d probably gone home with her off-and-not-quite-on-again boyfriend [‘yes, but they hadn’t been getting along, and anyway, why hadn’t she let me know like she always did…’ etc.]. Back and forth. On and on.

Believe it or not, I did not have the cellphone number of off-and-not-quite-on-again boyfriend, but by 10 am I’d dug it up. Called, and got a groggy OANQOABF on the other end. Yes, AAH was there. He put her on. Sleepy voice. ‘Hello?’

You can believe that she received a blast into that pretty little ear of hers. Why the hell had she not answered my calls, what the hell was she thinking not letting me know?? etc. Her phone, she said, was still at Broadway, so she hadn’t been able to let me know. Hello!!! Was I not talking to her on a cellphone at that very moment?? Could that very same cellphone not have been used to send one wee text message in the middle of the night? Hm?? – She hadn’t wanted to wake me, she said. ARGH!!!

Turns out that a friend of hers had kept her coat-check tag, and the friend had left. So AAH could not retrieve any of her stuff at the end of the night, hence her bag with everything in it, plus my new wool coat, had been left behind. OANQOABF had gallantly provided her with a jacket to throw over her shoulders and had taken her home – to his place. Because she hadn’t wanted to disturb us by coming home and ringing the doorbell in the middle of the night [m-hm].

Anyway, it was the night from hell, for as I explained to AAH when I’d finally calmed down enough to address her without shouting, not knowing where your child is is probably the worst thing that can happen to a parent. Most parents, at least. She was, predictably, overcome with remorse, and has given me her solemn vow that she will never, ever pull a stunt like this again. Here’s hoping she keeps her word.

Yesterday we had temps above freezing for the first time in ages, and it rained. By late afternoon we had a wicked storm, so bad that EPI was forced to postpone a trip to a cabin with his buddies – they do this every year, bring their guitars and drums and things and have a weekend jam session in between eating lots of putrid food [‘tis the season] and drinking lots of alcohol. This morning it started snowing again and temps dropped, so we have ice beneath the freshly-fallen snow which as everyone knows can be très risky. EPI headed out this morning instead, so my concerns about AAH have been replaced with concerns about whether EPI and his friends make it in one piece. Life’s a beach. Temps -2°C [28F], sunrise was at 9.45 and sunset due for 5.40 pm.

PS – I expect that later today we shall have the 200,000th visitor to this site. Visitor no. 100,000 got a virtual half-bottle of Lýsi [cod liver oil] and bouquet of roses – what lovely gift shall we bestow on our visitor no 200,000?