Outage

Tricia Bauer

The snow spilled early, its silence gaining weight overnight to stun the trees into submission. They gave over their leafy tops, stretched and tore their roots, abandoned whole selves sideways, some caught only by the thick netting of wire or other stronger trees. Even the evergreens lowered their arms.

It was as if all the clouds in the sky collapsed. At once.

That first night powerless, we lit the long wicks of candles and stared into the darkness of each other’s eyes. We were both thinking of a time long before mobile media. The next day we filled the bathtub with snow, stuck in containers of orange juice, ketchup, pickles, wine. The odd sculpture in white held all night long.

The third day we collected snow melting from the roof in buckets and flushed the toilet. The rest we warmed on the wood-burning stove and later took turns rinsing each other.

We woke cold and scavenged for wet twigs that hissed in the embers. We fed the firebox with old wood, and new beeches, and pieces of a molding pine chair from the early days of marriage. By the sixth day the batteries had all died or diluted to a pale wash of hope.

The seventh night I walked into the woods, found a rock for illusion of cover, defecated, then covered it with bits of fallen things and the nostalgia of an old cat—our first pet—I had loved. Above me the sky, shattered with stars. You could say it was beautiful, nature providing a small but sure dose of illumination. But I saw a sky shot at endlessly, and the damage now our only meager source of light.

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