By Francesca Arminio
It’s something I have to admit to myself and now, to anyone who is reading this. I have been known at times to indulge in laziness, like lying on a tropical beach sipping rum punches for hours without moving kind of laziness. So, when refreshing spring days become scorching summer afternoons, my mind drifts and my body crashes and luckily I have generous family members who let me do both while floating around their large swimming pool in Mattituck.
On this particular August afternoon, my dreamy contemplation of wispy cirrus clouds was disturbed by my husband Tom and my sister Madeline who were dressed for bicycling, helmets at the ready. I shook my head “no.” Were they kidding? Leave this oasis of relaxation to sit on a tortuous leather seat and attempt to exercise in this heat? I waved at them from under my floppy straw hat and wished them happy peddling. With Madeline’s husband Dee in town running errands, I was now alone.
“We’ll be back in an hour or two,” Madeline yelled from the driveway.
About a half hour later, well I think it was a half hour as time has no meaning when I’m in stupor mode, I emerged from the cooling pool to drag myself to a chaise lounge, the effort exhausting. I picked up a bottle of water and a magazine and settled in for yet another round of welcome idleness.
Earlier in the day, when the air was cooled by a morning breeze rising from the Sound, I did venture out for a relaxing stroll, noting that a construction crew was demolishing a house about one half mile from my family’s home. The only thing left standing now was a brick chimney but the heavy machinery winding its way down the road indicated there would be more dust and noise coming from this address.
That’s the image that invaded my foggy relaxed subconscious when I first felt the chaise under me vibrate that afternoon.
“What the hell?” I murmured to myself, popping my head up and grabbing the armrests. Was I having a seizure? No, this felt like the chair was moving me, I was not moving the chair.
I jumped out of the chair, my heart beating faster. The other chairs were vibrating too, as if they were all about to engage in a haphazard square dance. The vibrations got more intense, the chair I had been sitting on actually slid a bit on the pool surround. This was too weird! What were they doing to that house? Would demolishing a brick chimney a half mile away really cause outdoor furniture to vibrate that violently?
Then it just stopped. I was wide awake now and looked around to check if anything else was out of place. A hammock swung gently in the breeze–except there was no breeze. Maybe a bird had landed on it and then, taking off, sent the hammock softly swaying? I thought I would stick with that hypothesis for the time being.
I plopped down on the lounge again, taking deep breaths and trying to regain my lost serenity.
Shortly afterward, I heard Tom and Madeline talking as they brought their bicycles up the driveway and into the side yard for storage. When they opened the gate to the pool, they found me lying on the lounge, hat over my face with legs and arms splayed out.
I pulled the hat off my face and squinted at them.
“Oh, thank God you’re back! Did you feel that weird sensation earlier? The chair vibrated and the hammock swayed by itself. It was the oddest feeling.” I said.
They looked at me as if I had been drinking something stronger than bottled water. They hadn’t felt anything.
I got up and pointed to the now immobile outdoor furniture, gesticulating wildly while telling my tale of dancing chairs and empty, yet swaying hammocks.
“Did you notice if they were working on that brick chimney while you were bicycling?” I asked.
“No, I don’t think anyone was there this afternoon. At least, I didn’t notice.” Madeline said.
When Dee returned, he shook his head and looked at me askance, he hadn’t noticed anything strange either.