January 10, 2020
I do realize that documenting this arctic time is to my benefit, and I’m alone in this house. My house is full of windows. During the day it is flooded with natural light. I don’t use any candles until about 5:30 pm and I am grateful for that but the storm has turned. The sky is gray, nearing black and it is only, I guess based on instinct, eleven am. I want to hide from my street so I close my curtains off and on all day. Frankly, this signals anxiety but I am a hidden moon and my neighbors are obtuse. I conserve sometimes, when I feel adequate, I am able to conserve.I have lit only what I needed. I am quite panicked and terrified to talk to my neighbors or go outside after the riot. I read, and this is before my phone died, that riots had broken out all over the city and tons of stores were looted at once. I really missed my chance. I pace now, eager to connect, frightened by the sky. Turn to my cat licking herself on the floor, her leg raised and pointed mid pirouette. She has already adjusted to the nightmare.
I peek out the window to see my neighbors gathering. They will knock. They will check on me. I have not said a word to anyone since I moved here but they will knock. I peek, I see them, their bomber jackets and beanie hats and strong accents. That’s how I identify breeds. They are wearing Eagles jackets, two of them, and Eagles hats. I giggle and turn to look at Genevieve.
“Get in my truck, I’ll take ya, Jim.”
“We gotta go down to Bob’s first, alright?”
“Well, they have a back up generator. Him and Margie, they are set, they can ride this out. I gotta go check on Mom and Bob and then you wanna go check on your Moms too. She’s where? Wynnefield? I don’t mind.”
The doors open and shut so the voices become muffled quickly. They are yelling right outside my window. I see the red pickup parked neatly to the curb right outside my house and shut the curtains. I snicker some more at their caricatures, unfettered for a moment, feeling almost light enough to open the door and say “Hey! Remember when we didn’t riot for the super bowl! Now’s our chance!” I’m so close to doing this that my left index finger is actually grazing the chilled brass knob. My hips are turning toward the exit. I am almost reaching their conviviality through this wall. But I turn towards the table where my phone sits instead, lifeless. If it was powered on what would I do differently? I linger there, listening to the engine start, to their friendly bickering, their unctuous need to help each other. I am staring at my phone. I am turned towards the front door but looking back at my dead phone. I am feeling a dull sensation in my hand. I am feeling the constant callous on my palm with the right index fingernail as my hands are curled in, balled into fists and my own nails are poking the skin. Without realizing it, I had been clutching the curtain at the bottom and have balled it up into my fist. I release and watch the wrinkles set. Another problem. Hear the gravel under the tires and the pause, the gravel again, the pause, the steady whirr of the engine and the radio suddenly click on loud as the two men leave me. A radio. Those city sounds you get used to: how you know a car is backing up, then turning the wheel, then backing up over the gravel, then the pause before the final execution. The radio. The battery.
Still near the front door, I am waiting for something. I am squinting to feel it, remembering there is a flashlight in the basement. My head is facing the floor and I am seeing it, buried in a box, a white box that says “misc” in my child’s handwriting on it. There were no batteries in it.
That’s why it’s in the basement. Turning suddenly, I nearly step on Genevieve’s tail but hop over it using the wall to steady myself and begin humming; an old habit. Genevieve quickly joins the dance. We skate over the hardwood floor on my way to take a final inventory of the kitchen. She prances behind me and under me meowing for food. I am humming and looking at her, beaming. We have already adjusted to the nightmare.