Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Blackout by Stephanie Erickson



“The nature of the world is to be calm, and enhance and support life, and evil is an absence of the inclination of matter to be at peace.” – Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

What a difference one hundred years can make.  The 20th century saw the dawn of automobiles, the Internet, cell phones and the personal computer.  All of which came to rely on one common denominator – electricity.  

The world hummed and clicked away, consuming more electricity than those who lived a century ago would have ever dreamed could exist.   But it was a fragile existence, one easily shattered by the sun’s fiery tendrils.

The light the world created blinded them.  A storm was coming that would sweep across the globe like wildfire, leaving nothing but darkness in its wake. 


Molly was just finishing cleaning out her inbox when Cindy’s slender frame walked by the door.  “Hey!”  Molly called out. 

Cindy stopped and poked her head in.  “Hey yourself.  What’s up?”

“Nothing.  I’m just finishing up here, and was going to get some dinner.  Wanna come?” 

Cindy knew Molly was lonely and didn’t get much social contact when her husband was gone.  Even though she had a lot to do, Molly needed her.  “Sure!  The kids don’t need to be picked up for a while, but I’m not quite ready to go yet. Can ya’ wait like fifteen or twenty minutes?”

Molly smiled.  Cindy was never quite ready to go.  She had three kids and a sociable husband, so grading essays and preparing for the next class weren’t easily accomplished at home. 

“Sure, that sounds great.  Just holler when you’re ready.” 

Molly, on the other hand, had lots of quiet time at home.  Gary had already been gone for two nights and wouldn’t be back for another five.  If nothing else, being a pilot’s wife left her with plenty of time to herself.  It was an adjustment she hadn’t fully mastered, and she was grateful she wouldn’t be eating alone tonight.

When Cindy left, Molly sifted through the night’s work, thinking she’d get a head start.  She opened the file for her Modern Poetry class and took out the essay on top.  “Mutability”, it was titled. 

What can a person rely on?  Friends and lovers come in and out of a person’s life as often as they change their underwear. 

Oh Lord, she thought, and flipped to the end of it.  Seven pages of this crap?  She leaned back in her chair, pulled off her rimless glasses and rubbed her eyes;  her habit when she didn’t want to embark on the task at hand.  She sighed and uncapped her purple pen (she never used red - she found it too harsh, too judgmental, and way too negative) attempting to ready herself for the potential garbage she was about to trudge through.

Four pages in, Cindy came to the rescue.  She had pulled her long blonde hair back into a low ponytail and donned a gray blazer over her white blouse and khaki pants.  She was always very put-together and stylish. 

“Ready!” she announced.  “Where do you want to go?”

“Thank God!  This essay is a nightmare.”  Molly paused, considering the options.  “You know if I was alone I’d just go up to McDonald’s.  So, what are you in the mood for?”

Cindy frowned and wrinkled her nose.  “Not McDonald’s.  I don’t know how you can stay so thin and eat there as much as you do.”

“I don’t eat there every day.”

Cindy laughed.  “I know, but still!  If I’m going to eat that many calories, I want it to be worth it!” 

They walked to the stairwell together.  Molly never took the elevator, so if one of her friends wanted to walk with her, they had to take the stairs.  The building was only two stories high, and the elevator was installed in 1967. Molly didn’t trust it to get her where she needed to go reliably. 

“Whatever.  McDonald’s is delicious,” Molly countered.  “So, since you vetoed my suggestion, where do you want to go?”

“I’m thinking pizza.  How about the Pizza Garden?”

They stepped outside and Molly assessed the situation.  “It’s a nice evening.  Pizza Garden sounds great.” 

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Genre – Adult Fiction / Contemporary

Rating – PG13 (some strong language)

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