Adventures in the Dark

This isn’t my house.

I must have missed the end of the world; here we are taking shelter in some abandoned house. The lights are out. The water hasn’t run in ages. We scope the place out, sweeping flashlights over a silent, dusty landscape. We scavenge cans of beans from the cellar staircase. The TV sits there dead no matter how long we stare at it and wish it would work.

Outside, another arm of the storm rolls in. The branches groan and strike the sides of the house. Rain beats on the roof over our heads. And that’s all this place is to us: shelter from the elements. We’ll be moving on soon.

No, wait. Then I remember — this is my house. This isn’t the zombie apocalypse, and we’re not going anywhere tomorrow. We’re waiting — just waiting for the lights to come back to life. This is my house, but you could have fooled me.

I’m torn between the adventurous spirit of a power outage and the frustration of being without just about everything that defines my life. How bizarre is it that my own home can feel so unfamiliar to me? But it’s true: without lights, flowing water, a stove or microwave to cook with, without my computer, this house really is just a lid to keep the rain off. Even the cold eventually gets in.

I walk down the halls of my house in the dark, flashlight in hand, and I’m exploring some utterly foreign place. The beam of the flashlight turns the world colorless and still. Bits of dust floats past my vision. I feel as if I’ve disturbed the perfectly preserved life of a long-dead stranger.

Here’s a fun game, by the way: go down into your basement (if you have the fun kind that’s still all cement floors and exposed woodwork) during a power outages. Go by yourself. Take a flashlight, and sit down somewhere. See how long it takes before you can feel that presence lurking in the shadows right behind you. You can thank me later.

Anyway, to put it less pretentiously, the hurricane plowed through here yesterday. We were one of the lucky areas to lose power for only about twenty-four hours. If the storm hit you too, I hope you’re doing okay. Stay safe out there.

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