What is the worst thing you have come home to?

Not the worst thing probably, and not my home.

We have a neighbor across the street with whom we are close.

She once called me in a panic saying that there was a bat in the house and would I please come over and capture it. (I know from experience, that the trick is to wait until the bat passes you and net them from behind because they have forward-facing sonar).

So, I go across the street and ask where the bat is (flying loose, or what). She says it is in her daughter's bedroom. Okay....

I notice that under the door, there is no light. I ask if the room is dark, and she says yes. I ask where the lightswitch is. She says that there is none. I ask where the light is, and she says there is a lamp on the far side of the room.

So, I am supposed to go into a dark room and hope to make it all the way to a lamp in the dark with a bat in there? Okey-dokey.

I want to open the door wide for light but not so wide as to let the bat loose, so I tell them to close the door behind me once the light is on. I dash into the bedroom, find the light, have them close the door, and am glad to see it is a bird, not a bat. I net the bird and put it outside. Turns out, it is winter and the neighbor has a warm porch light right by her front door where the birds built a nest. When she opens the door, they like to fly in towards the warmth.

Same neighbor, different night, new animal.

She calls to say that her dogs have brought some dead animal inside and she can't even bear to look at what it is. I picture a scene out of a slaughterhouse or "The Untouchables."

I screw up my courage and peer into the laundry room where the dog is sitting on its dog bed. Next to it appears to be a dead, headless rabbit, but at least it is intact and not torn to shreads. The rabbit's head was bent under its body but still attached. A simple shovel and I'm off the woods to dump it. By the time I returned, the dog bed was already in the trash.

I had pictured a dismembered skunk. I felt bad for the rabbit, but was relieved for me. All in a night's work. Until I had to play designated driver for my daughter and her friends at 2:00 am, when they learned Uber doesn't run that late out in the burbs.

It had been a stressful 3 months. My roommate and longtime best friend had been dating an old friend of mine and my partners. At that point, he was no longer our friend because he made short work of systematically abusing her. Without going into much detail, he was a terror, using a rapid combination of physical, mental and emotional abuse.

After a long day of work, I trudged home. Outside of our apartment door was a pile of rocks, which didn't faze me much as my roommate was well known for bringing strange things home. When I opened the door, however, I wasn't greeted with the energetic chattering I was accustomed to. My partner, son, and roommate were sitting together in the living room. She had puffy, blood shot eyes, and a heavy atmosphere lingered in the air.

"So... the police were here," she told me with awkward cheerfulness. She always reacted to stress with a sarcastic spin. "They were going to arrest him. And now I have a restraining order against him."

"What did he do?" Even though I already knew the basics of what it was about.

"I was going to his house. We were supposed to meet half way," she explained. "Somehow we missed each other." I knew what that meant. Even simple mistakes resulted in explosions of rage. "So I freaked out, and asked his sister for a drive back. When we got back, he was pacing out side. He was scaring me, so I ran past him into the house. He was screaming and punching things." Her voice shook, but she didn't look upset, just tired. "He tried to get in, but I locked the door so he just kept punching the door and screaming."

"Oh god, that must have been terrifying." I looked at my son, he wasn't even 4 yet. He was sitting nearby, quietly listening. "Were you scared, bud?"

"He was really mad." He stated, with an intense seriousness.

I gave him a hug and comforted him "Yeah he was. But everything was okay, wasn't it? Because the police came and Daddy was here to keep you safe."

He seemed confused, so my partner spoke up. "He didn't get to see the police. He was getting scared so we went and played with his toys for a bit, until he went away."

"So he was arrested then? What happens now?"

"Oh, no. He wasn't arrested," she continued. "After he wouldn't go away, we called the cops, but they couldn't find our address so they took more then 20 minutes. When they got here, he had left already, so they just talked to me and we filled a restraining order." She let out a sheepish grin. "While we were waiting, he kept coming back to the door and begging me to come out and talk to him. He worked himself up so much that he was heaving again," and she broke into an exaggerated mimic of someone puking "Bleeeeeaah!" Leave it to her to try to joke in the hardest of times. "And he was crying because he had brought rocks from the beach for me. ‘I got you rocks-BLEEEAAHH. Just like you wanted! BLEEAAAH. Just open the door to take them! BLEEEAAAH!"

Putting a more serious face on, she added, "They stopped him at the hospital. He had broke both his hands."

"Well he deserves it!" I exclaimed. "How can he act that way when he knows we have a child in here?"

"That's what his sister was saying. ‘They have a kid! Just come home!' But he wouldn't listen..." she trailed off. "I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize, it's not your fault he's like this."

"I know... but I don't want to bring this stuff around your child. And he made a mess outside with his vomiting and rocks." She was tearing up.

"It's not as bad as you think, I didn't even notice anything out of place," I soothed.

"Actually, that's because I cleaned it up," my partner spoke up. "When I went outside to grab your stuff he threw, I noticed blood on the door so I wiped it up so you wouldn't worry about it, and so Katelyn wouldn't freak out when she got home." I gave him an appreciative hug.

"Oh god, I'm sorry you had to do that," she moaned, while we assured her it was fine.

We sat together for awhile, remarking on how lucky we were that it didn't escalate, how happy we were that she was able to get inside before he hurt her again, and how we hoped he wouldn't come back to complain about the restraining order.

"One things for sure," I announced. "If you go back to him after this..." I trailed off in mock severity, with a mischievous smile.

"NO!" She interjected. "You won't have to worry about that. Never again."

And, finally, that chapter of our life had come to an end.

I've come home to a few unpleasant things over the years.

One Friday night as my usual practice, I went out to the bar after work with my friends. And as usual it was many hours of fun.

I got home around 1AM, fairly blitzed and walked through the dark house straight into the bedroom. I turned on the light and thought, I don't recall leaving my bedroom so messy. I looked around and thought, why are my clothes all over the floor, where is my TV??? Being drunk, it took a little while to process what was happening. I went into the hallway and looked towards the living room and saw that my very expensive, high end stereo system was gone, among many other things. I was burglarized. They took anything valuable, ranging from electronics, jewelry, clothes including a microwave oven.

Next day, while the police were there taking a report, my very cute and very dumb neighbor came over and said she saw a white van parked on my lawn with 3 guys running in and out of the house removing things. It never crossed her mind to call police.

My wife and I decided to get a divorce, so I got an apartment, taking posession in a couple of weeks. During those weeks my life was a living hell, with me coming home to a new drama every day.

I piled the (agreed to) stuff that I was taking in the garage. One day I came home and there was a full gas can next to my stuff. One day I saw some broken glass on the floor and discovered that she had unpacked, smashed and repacked some of the stuff I was taking. Finally, she shreded some of the clothes in my closet with a knife. Only my favorite casual shirts.

I was so happy to leave.

Finally, while in my new appartment, I came home from the store one day and I see the mother of my downstairs neighbor lying dead in their apartment doorway. She had some type of medical issue and just dropped dead. People were naturally screaming and crying. I just stood there dumbfounded. I could hear the sirens of the 1st responders and paramedics approaching and I went upstairs just as the 1st emergency vehicle pulled up. It was very surreal.

I clearly remember the morning of 17th January 2014.

Dressed in my school uniform I was all set to leave. Usually at that hour my grandfather used to be busy in his morning routine and I never used to say bye to him before leaving. But I used to enter the house from his room when I used to come back. He was always worried about the long hours of my school.

But that day I was in Hall having breakfast and he was watching TV at that time. The moment I stood up to leave I saw him turning his face towards the door which opened in the hall. He smiled at me "beta Mahabharat deekh raha hu...bura hal hai...bheeshm marne vale hai"( I m watching Mahabharat...the situation is very bad...Bheesh is about to die)

I said "okay dada! Mein jati hu. Bye!" (Okay grandpa! I m leaving. Bye!)

And I left! I realized that I never say bye to him and it was the first time I did. I spent my day at school and came back.

The moment I entered I saw that his side door wasn't open and he wasn't there. He got a brain hamerage and he was hospitalized. He never came back. That was my first and last bye to him. It's been 4 years still I miss him in that room.

No Indianna

I have, to put it mildly, a strong affection for border collies. Now for anyone who says that nagging doesn't work this story may offer you some encouragement. When I was about eleven I constantly asked my mum and step dad if I could have a border collie puppy, it would be my birthday and Christmas presents for all eternity. I would look after her, walk her, feed her, play with her....everything a kid will say to prove they are responsible.

Finally, after about a year, my step dad told me to start looking in the paper and if there was a puppy for a good price that he approved of, I could have one. So September 25, my step dad, sister and I drove out to a farm that had four puppies but I only had to pick up one to know we belonged together. We took her home that day and me being the cool 12yr old that I was, named her Indiana, yes after the character. Not being as cool as I thought I was, I spelled it Indianna. I did do all the things I said I would. She was mine through and through and I loved her perfectly.

A couple of years later things started to fall apart in the house, in terms of family dynamics, lots of fights between the other members of the family. I spent most of my time sneaking Indi into my room or hanging with her outside. She was the epitome of love, something our family seemed to be lacking. When I was fifteen my step dad and brother left, they took all the other pets but I kept Indi. We (my mum, sister , Indi and I) moved to a smaller house with a much smaller yard so I had to walk Indi twice a day but that was fine, luckily we lived near the beach and many parks. The only time in my life I saw her growl at a person was one night I had taken her for a walk to the beach, it was transitioning toward winter and I didn't realise how early it began to get dark. I was heading home, Indi was off lead running down the beach ( border collies can move far, fast) when a man jumped out a bush in front of me and started making inappropriate remarks to me and coming closer. Normally it would take several calls for Indi to come, but that time I called her just once, and she came bolting, hackles down growling at the man. Because she knew, just from my voice, she knew. I attached her lead and she practically pulled me the entire way home.

Naturally divorce can affect children, and my sister was acting out, so the family dynamic still wasn't good and I still held onto Indi as my rock and unconditional love. My sister would often leave the side gate open next to the house, and when I would get home from school and see it open I would always panic that Indi would be gone. But she never was, she knew her home.

When I was about sixteen we got new neighbours and they were not nice people, they had threatened to throw poison to several dogs in the neighbourhood who they accused of barking. Once the ranger came by my house, as the neighbour had complained of Indi, but the ranger said she had asked around and every one had told her it was the dog in the house behind us that was barking so she was just doing a curtesy visit really. We called in bark busters just in case, there would be NOTHING that could be used against my baby.

One evening when I was seventeen, my mum picked me up from work, and as soon as we started driving home, I felt something wasn't right. Sometimes you just know. Mum told me that she had taken Indi for a walk in the park when the neighbour had come storming over and threatened both my mum and to kill Indi. In those days, I spent the time after school alone except for Indi, until mum came home from work. Mum worried that something would happen during this time. She thought she was protecting her baby, so she got rid of mine. She had called my step dad and made him come and take Indi. I know why my mum did it and I didn't give her a hard time, for all I know she saved Indi's life as well (the neighbours moved about a year after that) though at the same time I've never really forgiven her either.

I was a shy and anxious teenager but I do know that if that man had come at me in the park and threatened Indi, he would have backed away after one look from me, because he would have seen the bloody devil staring back at him. But I wasn't there that day and I've never seen Indi again. Sometimes I laugh at how much I can care about a dog, this was ten years ago now, she would have probably died from old age. But I still couldn't bring myself to answer this question with, ‘my dog'.

Mum told me in the car on the way home from work, close enough to being home that I still count it as answering the question. Though technically the worst thing that I came home to, was what I didn't come home to at all. In the novel above I wrote that my step dad and brother left, but what I didn't say is that was also something that I came home. I had been visiting my birth dad for two weeks and when I returned home it was to find them gone. Indi being taken away still beats that though.

I know reading an incredibly long answer about someone else's pet can be very boring, so if you made it this far, thank you.

I exited my bus and walked towards my house. It had been a long day at school, leaving me utterly exhausted. And for once I was actually looking forward to going home so I could let a spray of water ease the tension out of me. The exams were coming up soon but I wasn't ready for them one bit.

I sighed, crossing the threshold of my house and greeted my mother. I didn't have my own room in the house because my parents strongly believed that girls should never be given their own room so I had to share one with my two older sisters.

But I was rather fond of my privacy so I set up my stuff in another room that was sort of a study room but nobody else used it. I had decorated the plain room by covering the walls with pieces of papers that carried motivational quotes. There were also small pieces of cut out flowers around the room.

The door had a cute welcome note along with a drawing of my favourite anime character. I adored his personality and whenever I felt alone I would stop by my door and talked to it. I know it was probably crazy but when you live in a household with five people who don't give a damn about what you have to say, you learn to talk to yourself and other non living things.

It was one of those days when I really needed someone to talk to so I rushed to the study room with my bag swinging behind me and frowned at the door. The drawing I had made with such love was missing and the welcome note was torn in half. I suddenly felt my heart lodge in my throat as I turned the doorknob, already expecting a mess. I opened the door to find majority of the quotes I had spent days searching, writing and pasting were torn and lying on the floor. The shelfs that were eight hours ago lined perfectly with the books were now empty. All the books were thrown out of there and were piled here and there on the floor. The drawers in the rack were lying upside down on the floor with their contents occupying the table, creating a huge mess. Everything was a clutter but more than that, the one place I felt safe in was ripped away from me just like everything else.

I gritted my teeth as my eyes started to moisten with unshed tears. I stormed over to my mother who stood cutting vegetables in the kitchen.

'What happened to my room?' I furiously asked.

My mother looked at me briefly barely acknowledging my pain and calmly told me, 'it isn't your room'. She collected the vegetables and threw them into the bowl and stirred, turning her back on me.

I looked at the ceiling, begging for some patience and tried again. 'What happened to the study room?'

She threw me a disdainful look and informed me, 'your father couldn't find his charger so he thought he might have left it in the study and decided to check'.

I rolled my eyes and folded my arms, as if that was the truth. 'Daddy has never been there even once in the two years we have lived here, do you really want me to believe that?' I asked.

She turned around and strode towards me, getting in my face. I refused to flinch or back away. I dug my heels into the ground. 'Don't you fucking dare for one moment think you can question your father or me about anything. You have no right to. We have given you everything and we can take it all right back. You are nothing on your own', she spat out.

Her words triggered more tears in my eyes. I swallowed past the lump in my throat and forced myself to nod. Apparently satisfied that she had put me in my place, she turned back to the stove. I softly questioned her again, 'there was a drawing on the door Mother. What happened to it?'

She laughed wickedly as she squeezed the hell out of a lemon and I could almost feel her envisioning that it was my throat instead. 'That silly old thing? Your father threw it away. You know too damn well that angels don't visit where you have pictures and yet you drew that so you father tore it and threw it away. Just be thankful he didn't hit you for that, you sure deserved it'.

Silly old thing?! That drawing meant so much to me. I spent hours working on every little crease and creating something that would hold me while I cried and my own mother doesn't even care. And you know what mum? Angels don't visit where devils like you live either. 'But-' I started to say.

'That's enough out of you, Hoor Ibrahim. Go back to the room. Now!' She yelled giving me a lethal look which screamed that if I didn't leave now I would be beaten until I was down for the count.

And so I did. I went to my room and hid under the desk and cried. I cried for ever being born. I mourned the loss of that little girl who never got her childhood. I let out a whimper for every beating I was ever given. And then I did what I am best at. I cried myself to sleep.

I woke with a jolt hitting my head on the table. I groggily tried to recall why I was curled under the desk. And then the mess in my room reminded me yet again of the earlier events and I felt my lip quiver again as my eyes watered. But it was time to stop moping around.

I craned my head to look at the clock as my neck protested at the movement, apparently this position wasn't ideal for sleep. Five hours had passed since I came home and my stomach growled, reminding me I had missed lunch. I shuffled out from under the desk and started to set up the room again. I slid the books back to the shelf and loaded the drawers again. I took down all the torn quotes and threw them away and adjusted the rest of them. It took hours but the study room was finally looking presentable again.

And that's what I have been doing all my life. They would push me down, I would cry until I was exhausted and then I would fix myself all over again. The only thing different would be, after every tantrum or beating they threw at me they took a little piece of me until I was completely lost. And just like that, that day I promised myself I would never draw again.

Not the worst as it ties for other mischief my four sons have gotten into. Three oldest sons are in living room and looking guilty. "Where's Luke?" Dumb looks, then dumber response, "who?'' I yell for youngest and he comes out, hiding his hands behind his back. "What are you hiding, show me your hands..." Shows me one of them. "Both hands." Palm of hand is burned, but give boys credit for applying split aloe vera leaves to it. What happened? Oldest son showed bros a "magic trick." Squirt lighter fluid in your palm, light it, flick palm and it goes out without ever burning you. Well, of course, the youngest wanted to try it (my two middle sons are the level headed ones.) He panics and starts shaking instead of one quick flick and the fire doesn't go out. Number two had the sense to extinguish and apply aloe vera. Incredulous stare from mom. Didn't know if I was madder at oldest for stupid dangerous trick or youngest for stupid habit of volunteering for dangerous tricks. Hand is fine. Sons all survived to adulthood.

Have you ever witnessed someone having a paranormal experience?

It's a strange way to phrase a question because if there's a paranormal experience happening, then YOU are the one experiencing it.Only 18% of paranormal incidents are witnessed by multiple people. These are usually UFOs but sometimes ghosts and bigfoots as well. To personally answer the question, yes, my whole family of 4 saw a UFO in 1996 together.

What things about American culture should foreigners know?

America is very diverse, big and very spread out. Americans drive everywhere. They expect efficiency and customer service. They always tip their waiters and some service staff at least 10%. Stand in line but not too close where appropriate. Smoking is forbidden indoors in public spaces and even in many outdoor public spaces.