Outage

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The night of the power outage, Bernie called to check that I was okay. This was two weeks ago. I told her I was fine, and then asked if she was okay. And that was the call. But it was over too quick, and I had a jittery guilt from not having talked more with her, so I called her back and asked if she was really okay, that she hadn’t sounded herself just now, which was a lie—she’d sounded perfectly alright. She said really she was fine, with a smile in her voice. I told her I’d spoken earlier with someone from the power company, and they’d said it was important to wrap the food from the fridge and freezer in paper to stop it from perishing. Oh haven’t you already done that? said Bernie. I said I hadn’t been sure about the advice, but if she thought it right then I’d do it now, I’d wrap the food just as soon as I got off the phone. She asked if I had any candles. I didn’t have any candles, but I didn’t want her bringing any over. So I told her yes. And then I imagined the living room dark in its corners and shot through with the smoky sepia tones of lit church candles. I imagined it so I could make it real while I was talking to her, and then I described that strange candlelight and its disarming shadows. Well, she said after a pause, as long as you’re alright. She said she was going to bed soon. That way, when she woke the power would probably be back on. After I’ve wrapped the food, I said, I’ll go to bed too. Goodnight, she said. Goodnight, I said. But when I’d hung up, I was restless. The food wasn’t going to wrap itself, but I couldn’t be bothered with it because I was thinking about the conversation with Bernie, and that guilt from earlier, or something like it, was still bouncing me around.

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10 thoughts on “Outage

  1. Enjoyed! But do you wrap food in a power outage?? First time I’ve heard that. In Ethiopia when sometimes only had power every other day; key was not to have any food in the fridge…. Greetings from the Wild West, visiting USA.

    Liked by 1 person

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