Who Turned Out the Lights?

I was sitting at my laptop when something began rumbling outside. At first I thought it was an airplane. But it continued too long for that. Then it stopped. And started again. It took me a minute to realize that I was hearing some particularly epic thunder, though it didn’t look like rain outside.

Within a few minutes, it did. In fact, I checked my weather app and saw that we are under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch all day. The same weather app said it would not rain here for at least an hour. The clouds darkened. The clouds apparently do not check the weather app; I was pretty sure they planned to rain within moments.

It’s trash day, so I hurried outside into the rising wind to wheel the trash and recycling bins from the side of the road up to the garage. That’s when I noticed a large package had arrived and was sitting in the driveway: the patio table I ordered. But the box was cardboard and I was sure the rain would start any minute. Why don’t the people who deliver packages put them by the front door, where they’re supposed to? If I hadn’t gone outside to move the trash bins, I would not have seen the package at all. I tried to move it, but it was too heavy for me. The first raindrops were falling, so I ran inside, rousted my teenager out of bed (it was about noon) and told him I needed him to help me bring a large package in immediately, before it got soaked.

He threw on pants and shoes and helped me lug the box up the front steps and into the living room, as the wind lashed at the trees and the thunder kept rumbling. As soon as we hauled it inside, the clouds let loose, and the rain poured down.

A few minutes later, the lights went out. This happens now and then. The power flickers, and then it snaps back on in a few seconds. This time, it did not snap back on. I had no internet on my computer, so I used my phone to access the power company’s site to report the outage. More than 3,000 households in my city were without power, with no word yet on what had caused it.

The rain, having done its job, abruptly stopped.

My teenager seemed confused. His phone was not charged. The lack of electricity had turned his desktop computer into a paperweight. He could theoretically use his laptop, at least for as long as it could last on the little bit of charge that was left in the batteries. But it’s a Chromebook, so almost nothing is actually on the computer; it’s designed to work with online material, and with the router dead, he could not get online. He couldn’t watch television. He had no idea what to do with himself.

I suggested practicing piano — he’s a music major, and has barely practiced at all since he’s been home for the summer. To my surprise, he sat at the grand piano (no use trying the digital one) and actually played for a while.

I can always find something to do. In fact, I longed just to sit back and read a book. But I am behind on my writing goal for the month. My manuscript is kept in the cloud, but I have Dropbox set to also copy the files to my computer. While I couldn’t research, I could certainly write. So I wrote. I wrote until I’d surpassed my daily word-count goal and was at a good stopping point. (I’m still behind for the month, so I will write more later today.)

After a few hours, the power came back on, and my son, relieved, plugged in his phone to charge, and returned to his usual spot in front of the computer.

And now, the sky is darkening again, and the wind is rising.

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