Sometimes there are random noises during the middle of the night, the times when no rational person should still be awake and functioning. Not the usual whir of a hovering copter or wave-crash of the freeway. It’s a creaking and crunching off in the distance, and some thumps, like someone is rooting around in the world’s basement. And it doesn’t make sense, but you immediately think it’s the end. The end of it all. A flash and a wall of sound and a rushing, ripping, pulling everything apart at the seams. Maybe cosmic, maybe divine, maybe just the endgame of humanity’s ingenuity and cruelty. Is this going to be it? Was that all it was? You can picture it, and you don’t want to move or look out the window. You’d rather just let it happen.
Then it’s nothing, of course. Someone moving something, or a truck on a ridge-filled road, or something or other. The ads end, or you press play on iTunes, and you go back to whatever you were doing before. You’re too embarrassed at having such a catastrophic impulse that you don’t take the opportunity to reflect on the panic. You calm your heart by saying that this might be a funny thing to tell people about, a tiny anecdote of a stupid thing you did. But the right situation never really comes up.