Power

Everything was silent but for the indistinct dribble of water outside.

When the power had gone out, Kay had made an important discovery. She was just reaching into the refrigerator to find a bowl of soup that she had planned for lunch. The little light bulb flashed as if it had burnt out, but on consideration, all the lights were out and the time display on the microwave and the stove had gone blank. The whole house was out.

At the last outage, she had gone to Mrs. Stepford’s and they had waited out the return to light in a kitchen full of candles, chatting about neighbourhood friends then engaged in discussions into the meaning of art.

But Kay was hungry. If she couldn’t have her hot soup, what was there in the refrigerator? Nothing appealed. It was a cold day and only hot food would take the edge off of her feeling of chill. So Kay decided to try the stove. She depressed the knob and turned it. Gas began to hiss and  smell but the electrically activated lighter did not come on. In haste, she turned it off again.

She fumbled in the darkened cupboard and found the jar of matches, lit one and turned the knob again. A blue flame leapt up and licked at the little black ring from which it came. So! Now she could heat her soup and a cup of coffee. That was something to treasure.

In the distance, a phone rang. It was an old fashioned kind of ring. A trill. A chirping of an out-moded bird. But no! It truly was a phone.

In a second, Kay computed. It couldn’t be one of the new phones. They all needed electricity. The sound seemed to be coming from upstairs and she raced for it, counting the rings. At six rings, it still hadn’t kicked into the answering machine.  Iris was on the other end reminding her of a meeting.

“Will you be able to come?”

“I think so. The power is out here. I can’t check my calendar but I’ll call you back when the lights are back on and let you know. It’s amazing how we have come to depend entirely on our computers and technology now. ”

Kay told her about the gas stove and the phone.  “Thank goodness I’ve kept a bit of obsolete technology around.  These are powerful things to have in times of darkness.”  She reflected that, during the day, there was lots of light in the house, even thought the electricity was out and that was a blessing.

Kay returned to the kitchen to prepare her lunch.  She stood with the hot bowl of asparagus soup as she watched out the window.  Beads were forming on the clothes line and travelling down it slowly towards the house in big round droplets. Every once in a while, two crystal clear droplets would merge and fall to the grass below.

“An assembly line,” thought Kay. “An assembly line of rain drops. ”

The rain fell wouthout a slant. There was no wind. The lines of rain caught the little bit of light that traversed the cloud so that the yard appeared to have long  straight lines of uncooked spaghetti aiming towards the ground.

In the next yard, leaves still hung tenaciously to their branches. Few had turned yellow, but in the corner of her own yard, a sodden white hydrangea kowtowed to the earth in obeisance to the god of storm. The shrub had turned pink from the recent cold snap. Kay found it rather beautiful.

Two yards away, Kay could see her neighbour Tony standing, waiting in the doorway of his workshop, an independent little house that reminded Kay of a doll’s house. Did he think that the storm would abate in mere minutes? The rain drove into the lawn with a steady  force.

“Old bird,” Kay said out loud, “It’s good you kept that old phone.”

She finished her soup and went back to her chores, humming a tune in her head and admonishing herself, “you must get batteries for the radios; You must get batteries for the radios. You must. You must. You must.”

And then, there was nothing left to do. While there was natural light, there wasn’t sufficient to amuse herself with a puzzle or a book.  With the computer lacking power, she couldn’t work on that either.

If she were lucky, the stores would be in a different grid. She packed the car with bottles to return and headed out to the mall for a coffee with a book to read and then to the Art Gallery and then to Rose’s for a cup of tea.

It was five o’clock when the lights suddenly came back on and Kay was relieved that there was light for the long autumn night.

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