And climb the stairs to the beach...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Things That go Bump in the Night

I was dreaming about ghosts. I am not clear on where I was, but it was dark, really dark. There was a black shadow figure in the room and it was creeping up into some body's bed, threatening to overtake the person sleeping in the bed and possess her. I am not sure who the person was, and I know I awoke before I found out. But I know I was probably dreaming about this particular situation because The Dead Files was the last show I had watched before going to sleep last night. As the shadowy figure approached the sleeping woman in her bed, suddenly the setting changed from a bedroom to a large hall and I heard what sounded like a crystal chandelier crashing down on a tile floor.

It was one of those times when I couldn't  be certain what was real and what was a dream. But in a split second I realized the ghosts might have been part of the dream, but the sound of the chandelier crashing to the ground was real and it had awakened me and Ed in the most frightening way.

"What was that?" I said to Ed, in a loud whisper. "I don't know!" We both sat up and together, trying to break through the heavy veil of sleep without turning on the light. We both threw off the covers swung out of the bed on our respective sides, meeting at the foot of the bed, pausing before heading toward the horrifying sound. I followed closely behind Ed, out the bedroom door and stepped into the living room to investigate. It was unusually dark last night. There was no moon. The lights outside on the building next door were not on for some reason, and we could see nothing. 

My mind was going a mile a minute in those seconds it took to get to the living room. We have a glass front door and I wondered if someone had smashed their way in! We also have sliders on the lanai, leading into the bedroom and into the living room. Maybe something came through the sliders? Bears have been in the area quite frequently these days. In fact, one  sleepy black bear had ripped through the screen on some one's lanai in a neighboring community and taken a long afternoon nap. Could it be a bear? Would we encounter a man or beast or perhaps some kind of ghostly apparition would be to blame.
Bear recently snoozing on a neighboring lanai

The noise had been really loud, enough to wake Ed, the soundest of sleepers. But now, everything was quiet, except for the ceiling fan making a quite tic, tic, tic and some soft and unfamiliar sounds of a crackling and popping noise that sounded like it was coming from the living room. It almost sounded like a small fire burning, or maybe water dripping.
A view of our living room. Coffee table in center of room.

As I stepped from the bedroom carpet onto what should have been the smooth tile floor of the living room, I felt small, sharp chunks of broken glass underfoot. "Ed!" I said. "It's here. Right here!" "What is it?" Ed asked me. "I don't know. Glass I think! It's right under my foot!" I couldn't figure out how Ed had gotten past me without feeling the same thing that had stopped me in my tracks. I was right next to the light switch and as I turned it on and our eyes slowly adjusted to the light, we didn't see anything out of place at first. Then, as the room came into focus, I saw thousands of tiny chunks of glass all around where I was standing. I looked up to see if something had fallen from the ceiling above me, but saw nothing. Then, I looked over toward the living room, and said "Oh, my God look at that!" Pointing in the middle of the living room. Ed said "Look at what?" I pointed again, and shouted "Right there!" But it was such a strange thing, and we had just been roused out of a sound sleep, it simply wasn't registering with Ed. "The coffee table!" I yelled. "Look at the coffee table!"

There in the middle of the living room, was our wooden coffee table. The thick round 35" glass top that had been resting on the wood base had exploded into thousands of tiny chunks and shards of glass. The small silk flower in a glass vase was sitting in the middle of the table, just where I had left it, but now it was ankle deep in glass shards. The soft crackling and popping was coming from these shards on the table.

A close up of the table from the furniture store.
We looked up, expecting to see something that might have fallen from the ceiling on to the table, but there was nothing. About half of these pieces were in a pile on the table itself, but there was an equal amount of glass shrapnel that had been propelled everywhere in a fifteen to twenty foot circle radiating out from the table and extending from the bedroom door across the living room, into the dining room and out toward the front door. There was no explanation for it. It had just spontaneously exploded for no reason at all.

Having watched that ghost show before retiring for the night, and then having that nightmare made me immediately think of a paranormal occurrence, but I am a bit of a skeptic when push comes to shove. Besides, I don't really want to believe there are demons, bad energy, specters, or poltergeists that could cause such a thing. So, friends, what do I do when I am perplexed or curious? I Google.

Sure enough, all over the Internet there are blogs, news stories, forum discussions and Wikipedia articles about spontaneous explosions of tempered glass. I knew personally of glass that had broken due to temperature changes and some sort of installation problems in vehicles. But in this situation, neither of these things were in play. However, tempered glass is required in tables so that if there is a break, the glass will not be as dangerous in its broken state. As it was explained in one of the articles "experts say, because of the way tempered glass is made, it's essentially under high pressure, and the smallest nick or scratch can cause it to suddenly shatter. Manufacturing problems, such as compromised quality, or something as simple as a sudden temperature change can also cause a spontaneous shatter."

There was no unusual anything in this case. It had just exploded. I learned that there are many spontaneous glass breaking incidents reported every year. Some people have had shower doors spontaneously shatter in the middle of taking a shower. Can you imagine? Others have reported oven doors, microwave oven doors, windows in skyscrapers, and even drinking glasses have exploded without any external catalyst.  It's really kind of troubling when you think of all the "ill-tempered" glass that's out there.

I still have another end table from the same company and our kitchen table is glass, too. I am not sure if I want to replace the table top that broke, or replace the whole table and get rid of any potential for another middle of the night explosion.

Ghost stories and nightmares are scary, for sure. But the sound of shattering glass in the wee hours of a dark moonless night, can be just as scary. In fact, I am hoping I won't have any trouble sleeping tonight. I am sure I will be lying awake for a while, listening for things that go bump in the night.

Have a great day!


  1. Yipes!! I couldn't read fast enough.....I was thinking earthquake. I have a glass kitchen table. I'll be keeping an eye on it. A few years ago the back window in our daughter's car exploded!! We think from heat.
    Well, it was a great and scary story, and now I feel like I'm in the Halloween Season..thanks to you. Loved the illustrations. Your writing is wonderful...a gift.

  2. I know all about exploding glass! When the patio was first finished, I bought a glass table and tried to put in the umbrella myself. I wasn't tall enough and it literally exploded all over the patio in a million, kajillion pieces and ticked and jumped all over the place for hours. We replaced the glass but I am constantly petrified that it's going to happen again. Funny, I never worry about the temperature changes, but I worry if something bangs on it or if the umbrella is up and it's windy. I can't believe it happened so out of the blue on your inside table though! Where was Maggie????

  3. Maggie was fast asleep during all of this. Half way through the cleanup process she came out of the guest room and proceeded to do her "I just woke up stretch" which resembles downward dog. And then she just sat there watching us with a disinterested look on her face like only a cat can make.


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