The apartment is homey. Comfortable. Safe, inasmuch as anywhere is safe.
This evening I streamed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (I was in the mood to watch The Goodbye Girl … preferably the original, though I’d have probably settled for the 2004 remake even though the male lead in that one couldn’t touch Richard Dreyfuss. Alas and alack, that was not available in streaming format from my provider.)
Following Dragon Tattoo (satisfyingly consistent with the book at least; a shame Sweden doesn’t come off prettier), I was puttering about, tidying up, and – closing the loop on things – letting YouTube partially satisfy my Goodbye Girl craving, as David Gates crooned the theme song. A good night-into-morning, and all was right in my world.
And then everything went dark. Literally.
Without so much as a warning flicker, the lights went out. The refrigerator stumbled to a stop.
It’s late enough that I should be asleep. If I had been asleep, I wouldn’t have known the lights went out. It would have just been my alarm clock staring blank-faced at me without power, or flashing its unset status at me.
But I was not in bed, oblivious to the unaccustomed dark. I was awake, moving about. So instead I froze, peering this way and that into the darkness.
My apartment is homey, comfortable, safe. But for for a moment, it suddenly felt anything but safe.
It was a totally irrational reaction. It’s not like I’m afraid of the dark (unless I’ve just watched a scary movie, of course). It’s not like anything else had changed.
Maybe it was just the unexpectedness. Maybe it was the fact that there was no apparent reason. No storm. No summertime-evening-all-the-ACs-coming-on-at-once drain on the system.
Or maybe it was the fact that not everything stopped. In a blackout, it gets quiet, but it wasn’t quiet. I could still hear something.
Initially disconcerted, it took me a moment to realize that it wasn’t entirely dark or silent, because in the far corner, my laptop had swapped to battery and was still whirring away. Right. I have a laptop now; battery power. Not used to that yet.
The network connection was cut by the power failure. But fully buffered, David Gates was undeterred. “You fight the love you feel for me instead of giving in…” he sang softly into the dark.
And once I’d identified the source of the voice, reason started to kick back in; actual thoughts replacing the initial child-in-the-dark emotional reaction. OK, what do I want to do about this, at this hour? Is it worth digging out the flashlight, when I really should just be in bed? Do I want to go to bed as-is, when various lights will probably come back on and startle me awake in the night? Does it matter, really? Drat, I shopped yesterday; there’s actually food in the freezer… I hope I’m not going to have to cook everything tomorrow…
The song slowly faded. The lights started to flicker back on. The fridge went back to humming tunelessly.
And almost simultaneously, the outside door creaked open, heavy footsteps thudded through the entryway. I startled just a bit. Then keys jangled, a lock turned. Not mine. It was just my neighbors getting in late. Had they come just a few moments earlier, while the lights were out, the sounds of their arrival would probably have scared me silly… because that’s what happens, when your logic blacks out.
Now I need to go be a “goodnight girl.” Because for some reason, now that the lights are back on, I’m OK with turning them off.