Outage

window in a dark room

The power had gone out in the storm and the dog was terrified. Not because of the dark, I assume, but the sounds of the storm. For me, it was the other way around. The sudden darkness and the stark brightness of a lightning flash illuminating the room unnerved me. It made it seem larger and emptier than with the lights on.

I fumbled for my phone and turned on its flashlight, slowly stumbling to the kitchen. I remembered at some point we had gotten a box of matches from some restaurant, probably that upscale pizza place. What was it called? Some play on words like “Slice of Life.” Or something like that.

Jake started whimpering. I tried talking softly aloud, but there’s not much you can do to comfort an animal that scared. After shoving my hand in a bunch of drawers, the matchbox finally materialized under a stack of napkins from a fastfood place. Do people really buy napkins? Or does everyone just do what I do and steal them when they get a burger or burrito? I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t have a napkin with a logo on it.

Jake followed close to me by the time I had gotten the candles lit.

I never had really bothered with them, but she liked having them around the house. I can’t remember them being lit though. Just…around. But she always had a candle out someplace. Don’t get me wrong, they looked nice, but I don’t think I’d buy a nice looking lamp I never turned on. I never knew why she liked them, but it made her happy so I’d buy her one now and then.

The dull flames barely illuminated the room. I couldn’t read by it, not well at least. Not much to do in the dark, but wait. And think. I usually tried to keep busy these days, either playing video games or staying late at work. It was much easier than sitting around.

I slumped down on the couch after pushing aside a pile of my clean laundry that’d been there for at least four days. She was always the one that folded it. I tried, but gave up halfway through. She had this way of folding shirts so they looked like you just got them at the store. I could never figure it out. So the folded and unfolded laundry mixed together on the end of the couch.

After the next roll of thunder, I lifted Jake onto the couch with me and started stroking his head. His whole body was a trembling mass of fur and whimpering. The lightning flashed. The thunder roared. Rain pelted the window in an off-beat staccato.

“It’s okay,” I said, holding Jake closer. He trembled. So did I.

I looked at the shadows around the empty room. Sure, it still had her things in it, but they somehow didn’t feel real anymore. I didn’t know when I’d get around to packing them up. Sometime. But not that night.

The candles flickered. “It’s okay,” I lied.

“It’s okay.”

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