The day the lights went out

streetlights

When the lights finally went out forever, the rain had poured relentlessly the entire day, washing away the last of the dirty snow which swirled down through the rusty grates into the storm sewers below.  By the time darkness fell, the city was eerily quiet—and a heavy atmosphere muffled the air like a black, damp, cold blanket.  For a while, a few streetlights remained on, pulling the last residues of power from the local generating station, but in time, they too began to spark on and off; and on and then off again; and eventually, one by one, all the lights flickered out and the street was lit only by the headlights from an occasional car as it shooshed slowly by along the cold wet pavement.

Behind the locked doors and the shuttered, curtained, closed and boarded windows the people waited for their lights to go back on.  They waited while the food in their refrigerators warmed and they waited while the garbage under their sinks began to rot and their kitchens smelled like sour milk. They waited while the frozen lasagnas and breaded chicken wings in their freezers thawed forgotten because their electric ovens could no longer cook them.

They waited and stared at their reflections in the black screens of their computers and tablets and they waited while the batteries in their not-so-smart phones slowly died.

The days passed interminably and the lights still did not come on.  The early spring temperatures dipped again and the cold of the dark nights invaded their homes and stayed like an unwelcome guest.

And still they waited.  “The lights will come back on soon,” they told their children and their pets and their frightened elderly parents.  “Don’t worry; this won’t last long; everything will be alright again soon. It will all go back to normal and our lives will be the same again.”

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