By C.L. Beck
New Year’s Eve—a time for setting goals and reviewing past events. Or for sitting in the dark because the power disappeared in a blinding flash. Well, maybe not exactly a flash—more like a few winks and a blink.
“It’s hard to believe it’s New Year’s Eve,” I said to my husband, Russ. “How shall we celebrate?”
He twisted from side to side, reminiscent of something from “The Exorcist” and said with a groan, “I’m celebrating by lying on a heating pad. My back’s killing me.”
“Old fogy,” I muttered, stretching out on the TV room couch for a pre-bedtime nap. It’s hard to snooze, though, when someone in the room keeps muttering and groaning. Not to mention the noise Russ was making. I sat up and peeked through the curtains. The falling rain had turned to icy snow in the dark.
“What year are we moving into?” I asked.
“I’m not sure—maybe 2005,” Russ said.
That’s what happens when you get older. Your memory goes south and each year seems the same as the next. On the upside, however, you can hide your own Easter eggs.
Russ popped in a video. Just as it got interesting, the lights flickered and … the room went dark. I looked out the window again. The whole town was as black as a bucket of pitch.
Grabbing a flashlight, I turned it on. Nothing. I pondered the mysteries of life. Who am I? Where did I come from? Why do flashlight batteries never work when you need them?
Snatching another one, I clicked the button. A dim light the size of a pea shone forth. I ran and grabbed the emergency lantern, then hurried back to the TV room. Struggling to understand the Chinese symbols that explained how to operate it, I leaned close and turned the knob.
Click! The lantern’s 10,000 watts blasted straight into my eyeballs. I fell back onto the couch, and for a few seconds saw nothing but a white light at the end of a tunnel. At first, I thought I’d gone to the next life, but I could hear Russ laughing and feel Corky, our dog, hopping on and off me, so I knew I was still alive.
Eventually, my pupils dilated beyond the size of a dust speck, and normal vision returned. In the meantime, Russ turned on the battery-operated radio in hopes of catching the local news. Instead, we listened to a song that expressed the singer’s grief at his pickup truck rusting and his horse catching a cold.
Just then, the emergency lantern—the one that was so good at blinding people—flickered and died. Russ wandered off in search of matches to light his way to the bathroom, while I contemplated stomping the lantern to smithereens.
It’s a good thing the radio announcer came on at that minute and that he had such a soothing voice. It calmed my stomping impulses. Instead, I pondered the mysteries of life. Who am I? Where did I come from? Why didn’t we charge the lantern months ago?
My thoughts broke as Russ walked in and said, “Just think of all those people in the valley who are standing around at dances, in the dark. Aren’t you glad we were old fogies tonight?”
“At least they could huddle together in a big group for warmth,” I muttered through chattering teeth. Then a thought hit me. “I’m going to the bedroom to turn on the electric blanket.”
Russ watched with a grin as I headed upstairs. After two steps, I turned back sheepishly. “Oops, no electric blanket, either,” I said. “It’s funny what we do out of habit.”
The power failure only lasted about an hour and a half. Bless their hearts, the power company employees gave up their parties, went out in the weather and restored service.
Our celebration wasn’t the way we’d planned it that year, but it was certainly worth recording for posterity. And much more exciting than watching a video.
Which reminds me—New Year’s Eve 2007 is approaching fast and I’ve got to skedaddle. Russ needs my help hooking our electric blanket up to a generator.
What books C.L. recommends:
Life is Like Riding a Unicycle by Shirley Bahlmann
Publishing Secrets by LDS Storymakers (BJ Rowley and others)
Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne & Dave King
View C.L.’s other work: