Mildred frowned. She would never get back those last four hours. The wasted time was only redeemed by also being spent with her granddaughter, Stella. The same granddaughter who insisted she could teach her grandmother how to use a smartphone.
Emojis, texts, apps, camera and voice messaging… it was all so foreign. Whatever happened to a simple rotary phone and an Instamatic camera?
After her granddaughter left, Mildred stayed up late trying to remember all Stella showed her with sometimes successful, but mostly frustrating results.
“I’ll make myself crazy with this if I let it,” Mildred said. “I’ll give it another go in the morning.”
Fluffing her pillows and turning off her lamp, she laid down for the night. Mildred was almost asleep, in-between a dream and reality, when she heard the first thud.
Her eyes blinked open and she stayed completely still, listening for more strange noises. There, she thought, there it is again – footsteps.
Without turning on her light, Mildred fumbled for her phone, desperately trying to remember what Stella taught her.
“Think, woman!” Mildred’s inner voice was yelling at her. “What did Stella show you just a few hours ago. Think!”
Mildred pulled her blanket over her head and started pushing buttons and tapping on the phone’s screen. When the device suddenly came to life, she touched the telephone receiver icon, then found Stella’s parents’ number and dialed.
“Jeff?“ Mildred’s voice was a harsh whisper.
‘Mom, what’s wrong,” Mildred’s son-in-law was instantly concerned.
“Are you okay?”
“I think there’s someone in the house,” she said. “I hear footsteps.”
“Hang up, Mom,” Jeff said. “Hide in your bathroom and close the door. Stay put, I’ll call 911.”
“Stay put?” Mildred said after hanging up. “That’s not gonna happen.”
Phone in hand, Mildred tiptoed down her hallway in complete darkness, running her other hand along the wall for guidance. Finding the laundry room alcove about halfway down the hall, she hid in the nook, listening.
Grasping in the dark, Mildred found her vacuum cleaner tucked behind the laundry door. Detaching the metal extension wand from the canister, Mildred leaned against the wall, trying to still her pounding heart.
After what seemed like an eternity, Mildred heard heavy footsteps moving down the hall. Hunched over her phone, she touched the camera icon, then waited.
Gauging the sound of the steps, Mildred popped out of the alcove and snapped a photo with her phone, dropping the device as the intruder was momentarily blinded by the flash. That gave Mildred an opening to swing the vacuum attachment, striking the man a solid blow just under his chin. Staggering, he slowly spun around and slumped to his knees. Mildred swung again, this time connecting with his temple.
The intruder stayed down, Mildred’s assault rendering him unconscious.
She discarded her impromptu weapon and retrieved her phone. Aiming the device at the man lying in her hallway, Mildred snapped another photo.
The police arrived and took Mildred’s burglar into custody, snickering at her account of how she subdued him with a cell phone and a vacuum cleaner.
“The boys in holding are gonna love this,” the arresting officer said. “He’s gonna wish she’d give an unstatement, then he could pretend this never happened. Undone by an old lady and a Hoover, he’ll never live this down.”