Yes. Hissing. Not “some kind of animal is trapped in the basement and getting angry” hissing. (If only...) Oh, no. Something much worse. This kind of hissing made me sit rigidly in alarm. This kind of hissing was awfully similar to a certain “clean linen” air freshener we all know and deplore. I started to panic. Was it following me here? Was that even possible? I asked if anyone else heard that noise. I silently hoped they had. I hoped I was not alone. Was this going to haunt me? Was this to be my own personal case of a heart beating under the floorboards, refusing to be forgotten? Will I guiltily hear hissing everywhere I go until it slowly drives me mad? Does—oh. Ok. Everyone else heard it.
“Oh,” said my host casually. “That’s just the air freshener. It’s supposed to be on a 30 minute timer.” She walked over to the wall plug-in unit as if it were no big deal, as if she were confronting a harmless kitten. Thirty seconds later, she returned to restart the movie.
“Is it very angry?” I whispered, afraid to raise my voice. You can’t let it sense your fear, Amanda, I thought to myself.
“What? Oh, I unplugged it. It’s fine now.”
Yes. Yes it IS fine now. You will not follow me around, awful box. You will stay banished to the cabinet under the sink. (Until I can find a more suitable hiding place. I would bury it, but I worry about those toxins getting into the earth. Even if my mother does not worry about them getting into my lungs. It’s fine, Mom. I have two.)