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After the Storm

by Erick Zeidenberg

(...written mostly by candlelight during the four days we were without power due to Hurricane Sandy)  

 


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Erick lives in New York City and has previously been published in a few music publications including Relix and Seattle's The Rocket.  He does his best to get in solid writing time when he's not catering to a fussy Brittany Spaniel named Henry.


     When Dan woke up on Tuesday morning, the worst had passed. For the last three days the news and internet were focused on one thing: The Storm. By the time the show started on Monday night he was already tired of hearing about preparation, weather patterns, and evacuations.  He narrowly avoided the last item on that list as his apartment was just one block outside of the designated evacuation area.

     “How the hell can they predict a hurricane's path block by block?” he wondered while looking at the online map that noted the various city zones where evacuation was mandated.

    Dan had trouble sleeping once the winds kicked up around 10 PM on Monday. He felt like he was sleeping on an aircraft carrier because the gusts outside sounded like jets screaming down the deck for takeoff. Once he remembered about the stash of drugstore foam earplugs he kept in the bathroom, he was able to eventually drift off.

     Now that Tuesday had arrived, the first thing Dan did was to reach for his phone to check email.  He knew the power was out because the face of his digital alarm clock was blank. When he saw the “No Service” status on his phone he knew that he was not going to find out what everyone on Twitter had to say about the storm. For a moment he was grateful that not only did he get through the storm intact, he was also given a forced reprieve from the internet and all of its hissy chatter. Because his days were spent at work sitting in front of a computer and his nights were dominated by smartphone use, Dan sometimes experienced the sensation of his brain sizzling inside of his head like a pan of bacon. The break wasn’t such a bad thing, he figured. He flipped on the battery-power radio he reluctantly bought after the incessant nagging by his mother. (“I guess Mom was right”, he admitted to himself.)  The Con Ed official whose voice boomed out of the speaker said that it might take a week before power was restored. Since it was still raining, he stayed in all day and read by candlelight. Before retiring, he added a short entry in his journal:

     Obviously, I didn't get killed in the great storm. No power in the apartment. I opened the window and yelled to Mrs. Schwartz, the mayor of the block. She said that the whole neighborhood is out. I'm reading and writing by candlelight. I feel like I'm living in the fucking 1700s. The only things missing are my powdered wig and feather quill pen. I have to say that this isn’t so bad. 

     The next morning the novelty of living without electricity wore off and Dan started to get twitchy. Since he was awake with little to occupy himself with he figured he'd walk the dog and see how the neighborhood was holding up.

     As he led his dog through the sidewalk obstacle course of downed branches and toppled-over garbage cans, Dan became acutely aware that he was lucky.  From the radio he learned that there was a lot of flooding just a few blocks over that engulfed parked cars.  At least he wasn't carting buckets of water out of a basement apartment as he saw others doing just a few blocks east from his place.  The sun was trying to cut through the grey sky, the small glimpses of light serving as a beacon of hope that the worst was over.  He felt like one of the survivors at the end of a disaster movie who squint and move slowly through a forever-altered landscape, unsure of what lay ahead but cautiously optimistic nonetheless.  Other early-birds were taking photos that they hoped to upload to Facebook and Instagram once their phone service was restored.  One woman was walking down the sidewalk with her phone held out in front of her, hoping that she would lock into the correct position that would enable service.  As she looked up to the sky Dan speculated that she was searching for a virtual pathway to the rest of the world.  With her device held out in front of her, he thought she looked like one of the guys on Star Trek looking for signs of life with their little scanner devices.  Despite the fact that there were no traffic lights, some drivers whooshed up First Avenue like it was an open desert highway.

    When he got home he sat at the desk by his window. All he could do for now was wait.


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