On Monday it snowed all day. It was Mother Nature’s way of flipping me off as she dumped six inches of snow on my house and my yard. I work from home and barely went outside all day. I drove to the store for an errand at lunch, and then I walked out to the end of the driveway to haul the trash bins back. I did let the dogs out at some point, but their paw prints were quickly covered by new, freshly fallen snow.

After I brought the trash bins back to the house, I closed the doors and decided I would build a fire and hunker down for the rest of the evening. It took me a half hour to try a new lemon chicken recipe (which actually turned out pretty well, for a failure of a cook like myself) and Todd was away on a business trip so I prepared to watch a girly chick flick on Netflix for the night.

I carried my plate to the living room when I saw out of the corner of my eye that there were fresh footprints in the snow. I set my plate down and went to the window to investigate.

When we first moved here I was nervous about living in this house. We live out in the woods, there are no streetlights on the road. The guy we bought the house from was crazy, and I was afraid he’d come back and make trouble (or slash me to bits in my sleep.) I remember the anxiety I felt when a car would pull into the driveway to turn around. Or worse, the time when a car pulled off to the side of the road right in front of my house. What were they doing sitting there for so long? I don’t know.

It’s not like I am some nervous nelly when I am home alone. I actually enjoy being home alone on occasion. As much as I love my husband, I love my alone time too. But these footprints really freaked me out.

The footprints started from the trail leading into the woods behind our house. Our trail leads to a network of trails back there, and eventually leads to an old logging road about a half mile into the woods from our house. There was a Sunday afternoon years ago when I spotted a pair of hikers as they accidently stumbled off the trail into our backyard. They quickly retreated back into the woods, embarrassed looking.

My eyes followed the trail of footprints to the door of the workshop, a separate outbuilding where Todd makes stuff out of wood. The trail then went to the driveway, where it circled our pickup truck. From there it went across the driveway to where I stacked several cords of firewood, organized by the year it was purchased for optimal seasoning before we burn it in the fireplace.

I moved to a window that looks out onto the front of the house, where I saw that the trail crossed the driveway again, and went to both of the front doors on our house. It continued around the other side of the house and ultimately cut through the backyard and back from where it came from into the woods. I went from room to room following it, panic growing by the minute. Is somebody out there, watching me through the binoculars? I closed the curtains and moved to the next window. I peered out from the side of the frame.

Was someone casing my house during the snowstorm? How did I not see someone walking around? I was pretty focused on juicing the lemons and searing the chicken and making sure the rice didn’t get burnt. But seeing someone in contrast to the snow on the ground would be very noticeable, right? Even in my peripheral vision. Why didn’t I hear them? Probably because the snow was so powdery, footfalls wouldn’t be any louder than a whisper.

But more importantly, would this person come back after night fell? Was it the former owner of this house, after eight years of us living here, coming back to tear the place up? I am telling you, this guy was batshit crazy. Who in the hell is tromping around in the deep woods of Western Rhode Island in a snow storm? I considered donning my boots and following the trail into the woods and finding this person. But then what? I get the crap kicked out of me and am left to die in the woods atop 6 inches (and counting) of snow? It’s not like I can call the police, can I? What would I say? “Someone walked around my house find them and apprehend them immediately.” No way. And why didn’t my dogs bark? My intrepid protectors will bark their heads off when the Fedex van happens to come. Usually they do it during a client call, which makes an awesome professional impression too. No, they were passed out on the couches, snoring away and batting their paws in their sleep.

I ate my dinner. I watched my movie. The sky grew darker until night fell. I locked the doors. It had stopped snowing. I turned on the outside lights and let the dogs out after I fed them. I let them out the front door. The footprints went to the base of the front steps, not to the actual door. I cautiously leaned out to inspect the tracks.

They weren’t boot shaped. Or shoe shaped at all.

Folks, my house was not cased by a knife wielding maniac, or a menacing burglar wearing a ski mask. There would be no scene in which I would climb out the window onto the roof in the rain wearing a filmy nightgown to escape the serial killer wearing a hockey mask and waving a machete. No, none of this would happen.

Because deer don’t wear hockey masks.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.