When the Power Goes Out

Right after the crack of thunder boomed throughout the house, the lights went out. Most people wouldn’t find peace in something like that. They’d be lost without their electronic toys.

Looking out the front window, onto the dark street, it felt weird not being able to see the cars belonging to my next door neighbours. No reflections from hubcaps or puddles of water. I opened the door, needing to hear something to counteract the temporary electrical blindness. Watching a circle of light approaching my front steps, I leaned against the door frame. The moist air smelled like moss and wet manure.

Someone carried the flashlight up the steps, then stopped in front of me. “Reckon you don’t know me, except to see me now and again,” a woman’s voice said. “Name’s Rosalind Arlington.” She held out her right hand to me. “I live across the street from you.”

“Ah, yes. The house with the gardens in front.”

“Too many gardens now, for these old bones.”

“Some kind of storm, eh?” I asked.

“That’s the reason for my visit. I was expecting my family to come and stay this weekend. Turns out, they can’t make it. Now I have a fridge full of food and no one to share it with. I have no idea how long the power’s going to be out. Gilbert, from next door, he’s bringing over his barbecue. I’m inviting anyone who’s in the neighbourhood to come on over and join in.” She stopped speaking for a second. “What’s your name?” she asked.

“James Eastwood.”

“Any relation to Clint?”

“Afraid not.”

She looped her hand through the bend at my elbow, leading me down my own stairs. “That’s too bad. Do you like vegetables?”

I slowed my walking pace. “I’m not really sure I should be leaving the house.”

“What else have you got to do James Eastwood? We can all sit around the glowing barbecue afterwards, telling our wild and wonderful stories.”

“I’m pretty boring.”

“Never you mind. Everyone has a few good stories in them. They just don’t always know it. I don’t mind telling you, I had a massive heart attack when I was forty-two years old. Now I‘m seventy-two years young. Changes your perspective on things.”

We walked along, listening to the crickets, frogs and the drops of water falling down from the leaves of the largest trees.

“Gilbert used to sail around the world in his sail boat. After his wife died, he quit his job and just took off one day.” She snapped her fingers. “He came back eventually, thank goodness. He’s a wonderful neighbour. Likes cognac, almost as much as I do.”

“Should you be drinking that stuff? Isn’t it bad for your heart?”

“How about you just sit back, relax and take a trip around the world with us.”