The power has blown out.
Rain is pelting the roof, the windows, the driveway.
The new $12,000 generator sits sadly against the garage, not yet hooked up. The two propane gas tanks distance themselves from the generator. “Not yet, big boy,” they say.
The rain turns to sleet, angry and hard. A branch falls off the maple tree landing in a soggy spot in the yard.
The house is so quiet.
No furnace, no heat.
The pump that runs the septic system is out.
No humming from the refrigerator.
TV’s computers, iPads out of juice.
The utility outage app says no crews have been assigned.
Across the pond and up the hill I see streetlights. Why do the people on the hill keep their power? Storm after storm we black out.
The rain lets up and I take the dog for a walk up the street.
Every other house on the water growls and is lit by a generator. The smaller houses are mostly dark.
A young, newlywed couple has candles lit on their fireplace mantle. The big family across the street has a battery-powered lantern on the dining room table. It’s like a fluorescent in-house lighthouse.
Branches are all over everyone’s lawns, not caring if you’re rich or poor, powered or out, candled or battery ready.
A gust blows up and there’s an eerie, high-pitched howl, like how an oncoming tornado might sound. Except I’ve never heard a tornado except in horror films. Nor-Easters are our windy villains.
I note who has a generator running and who might be willing to make me a cup of coffee in the morning, COVID be damned.
Back at our dark house I take off my school-guard fluorescent vest. Undo the dog’s leash. Put the poop bag in the trash. Pull down the heavy garage door.
The flashlight lights the way into the kitchen, across the living room, into the bathroom.
When I place the flashlight on the bathroom counter, I see billions of dust mites and tiny bits of toothpaste. How have I missed those in cleaning?
I go back into the kitchen and lay the flashlight on those counters. It’s a microbe mess. In the dark I get out the white vinegar and start wiping things down. Then I bring out the bleach.
The neighbor’s generator sputters, like it’s exhausted, but catches its breath and goes on.
I undress by the windows in the dark and look out at the pond. Clouds are moving fast, blowing away the storm and letting the stars through.
Now I see how midnight blue got its name.
I want to keep watching the sky.
I want to check the outage app to see if the repair crew has been assigned.
But this house with no lights and no heat is getting cold.
I climb into bed to wait.
For morning coffee.
For the neighborhood equalizer that is electricity.