The End of the World, If Just For an Hour

Posted: April 21, 2011 in Dark Phase, Random Writings

It’s Monday.

 My husband is 3000 miles away on the east coast celebrating a milestone birthday with his father.  My oldest son is in a nearby town with a friend, playing video games at an arcade.  My three-year old and I are in the backyard weeding and planting lavender and poppies. 

 Our backyard is fenced in, but behind the fence our property continues several hundred feet down a steep hill before it turns into state preserved park land.  I often dump my lawn clippings down the hill, where two huge decaying tree trunks also reside, having been cut down last summer when they began dropping large, dead limbs onto our deck.

My three-year old is standing triumphantly on a remaining stump; the stump might as well be a throne placed on our hill   You can’t help but feel you’re in command of something with a spectacular view like this, looking down on the valley and the ocean beyond.

 “Be careful,” I tell my son, because my mother danger detector tells me he might slip and fall down, down, down the hill, and collide with the rotting tree trunks causing all manner of bodily injury.

 In my head, I’m running through an end-of-the-world scenario.  Although my logical brain tells me it is highly unlikely we have reached the end of human civilization as we know it, tornadoes in the south and a major earthquake in Japan has put my animal brain on alert.  We could be next, my inner paranoid says, and it could be bad. It could be the “big one” they keep telling us is inevitable.

 In my daydream of doom I imagine my son and me riding scooters on the deserted highways, eating left over Halloween candy because all of the other food is gone, playing games to distract him from the devastation and death that surrounds us.  In short, I’m cooking up a post-Apocalyptic take on Life is Beautiful. And then the rumble begins.

 I look up at the house and see the window panes rattling in their frames.  I look back to my son perched atop that dangerous stump and I snatch him down.

 That quickly it’s over.

 My instinct is to get inside, but my second thought is to wait, because if there’s more to come we’re actually in a pretty safe place now that we’ve moved away from the treacherous tree stump.

 My son has barely registered the quake.  After a few moments we go inside where I discover the power is off.  I use my cell phone to contact a friend.  She confirms that yes, there was an earthquake, a 3.8, and yes the power is off.  Before saying goodbye she reminds me that it’s the anniversary of the 1906 earthquake. 

 My son and I read books and play a few games of Bingo to pass the time while I wait  . . . for something; news that something far worse has happened nearby, a second, stronger earthquake, anything to put an end to this lingering sense of dread that intensifies every time I read the news these days.

An hour later we are still without electricity.  A helicopter flies over and circles the valley.  I try to imagine what life would be like if the power never came back on. No more computers, television, refrigerated food. No more recorded music. My synthesizer would be rendered useless, but I could always play piano by candlelight in the evening.  It has a certain appeal.

Suddenly everything whirrs back to life.  The power is back.  My son calls to say he is on his way home.  My husband calls to say he just got in from the restaurant with his family.  I start dinner .  Life as I know it goes on.

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Comments
  1. “It has a certain appeal.”

    Sometimes I, too, wish the power would go back out and never come on. Some things would be much simpler than they are now.

    Then I wonder what I’d wish for in that world. It tickles me to think I’d likely wish for the easily made connections from the good ol’ days.

    In my case, at least, the pasture is probably always going to be greener on the other side. That’s the joy of imagination, tho’–as Yo Gabba Gabba informs, we can create those worlds, then leave them when we’re ready!

    It’s fascinating to see someone else’s take on these questions. Thanks 🙂

    • ” That’s the joy of imagination, tho’–as Yo Gabba Gabba informs, we can create those worlds, then leave them when we’re ready!”

      Ah, the font of wisdom of our age, Yo Gabba Gabba 🙂

      I’m right there with you though. If the power went out permanently I would most likely be pining for my microwave, dvd player and Facebook friends in no time.