The power outed at 3:27pm on Thursday, the same day that had already been so hot we couldn't take the preschoolers outside for their afternoon play. I was cleaning in the infant room, Ever and other babies crawling around my feet, and Dakota had just left angrily. Things aren't good. If you pray, you can pray for my son. He came back in, his phone cracked and hot in his large 17 year old hand. I broke my phone Mom, he said. So you can't call me. I nodded, that's all. He left and the power shut off. Fans stopped the incessant whirring over our heads, the EXIT light came on and a loud, fat beeping noise began it's endless repetition. Once every three minutes.
Outside, I plugged Ever into the carseat and her forehead glistened already with drops of sweat.
I drove by Dakota, walking home, shirt off. He's so tall. He's 6 foot now.
At home I pulled Ever out and told Mr. Curry about the day. The power might stay out until tomorrow afternoon, he said. Are you sure? That's what they said? He was sure. That's what they said. Dakota came home. Things happened. Mr. Curry and I did the best we could. We did a good job, a much better job than we knew how to do two years ago. Dakota left. I called out I love you to his receding and unresponsive back. Because sometimes there is nothing else that you can say, and you want to be sure that you said it. Lola was in tears. I sat with her on the couch as she sobbed. It's OK, sweetie, we both told her, it's OK.
In the middle of the street, I took our neighbors cell, trying to call my Mom. The signal didn't go through. Lola stood next to me, Ever in Mr. Curry's arms. The air was yellow and thick. From our position in the cul de sac, looking down the street, you could see neighbors sitting in lawn chairs on their front yards, standing in the street talking, kids running around. Looking at the vaguely threatening sky, my eyes scanned for something. I realized I was feeling the absence of electricity. The absence of internet signals, cell phones, computers, televisions blaring, phones ringing, movies playing. I could hear my neighbors voices. Kids playing. I could hear the wind in the palm trees. And I could feel the resting of Nature into my body, without the strange skin of electrical noise between us and the elements.
The grocery store was crowded with people. The parking lot like a fish packed river, gleaming car tops. The water aisle half cleared completely, the other half picked through. Each register open, the lines of irritable, hot, worried people poking back into the food aisles. Mr. Curry was looking for a small alarm, worried how he would wake for work. We bought hot dogs, beans and water. Ever wore only her diaper and a tired, bleary interest in what was going on. I stayed quiet.
Mr. Curry made dinner on the grill and the darkness set completely. We lit candles and had our camping lantern on, plenty of light. We ate dinner out front. The moon was full, the stars beautiful, and a completely wonderful cool breeze had begun steadily blowing. I cried, until Mr. Curry reminded me my responsibility was to the girls. I stopped crying. I wondered where he was. I thought of how glad I was we lived in suburbia; no where for him to go to dangerous. Just 'little pink houses /for you and me'.
We all lay together in the bedroom. Mr. Curry had a battery powered radio working, and we four lay listening to it with a candle lit until we fell asleep.
The power went back on at 4am. I woke to the fan whirring and the the television that had never been turned off blaring in the living room. I turned it all off and lay back in bed. I tried not to think about my life. I thought of the women before me, the mothers, the centuries of women protecting their families in the face of disease, death, starvation, poverty, loss. Potato famines, crop failure, floods. All the mothers for hundreds and thousands of years. I thought of them, and I fell asleep.