That night, at seven o clock, first the lights and the music and fans and computers and microwaves went out, all along the street, like dominoes, or the rolling descent of a rollercoaster, or the whip of a snake’s tail, one by one. Light fell from the windows like pearls off a necklace, in breaking.
It was darker and more silent than we’d ever known or remembered, and we asked each other, what do you think that was, a power shortage, then shifted to sit closer to each other, and I could hear your breath, and the rumbling of your stomach.
The people who were alone in their homes thought what to do, to read by the light of no lamp. Some went out and stood in the lawns and talked with their neighbors. “You too, huh?” and “It shouldn’t last much longer…these things usually get fixed pretty quick.”
More people went outside, to the whir of the bicycles on the street, and the couple with the baby crying, and the cars moving tentatively, unsure without the lights’ telling.
Then one by one the cars jolted stopped and all the batteries in all the flashlights dried, and that brought even more people out, to stand and wonder what this was.
An airplane fell from the sky, like it had just fallen asleep, and it burned on a field as the passengers exited to their screaming voices.
But there weren’t flames anymore; the flames licked to blackness, and the moon darkened like an eye closed after death and the stars were plucked away into a bouquet of nothing. The leaves stopped shivering.
Never was there such silence or stillness. People wondered if this was the end.
But still the birds were chirping and a cat was prowling, and together, outside, we stood stunned, wondering, waiting for what would happen next.
Emma Borges-Scott is a recent graduate of Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. She now lives in New York, and is completing her first novel.