Something Out There

Author : Joe Essid

The bluish-gray haze in the western sky this morning is not the shadow of the Earth, rising up against the Dawn. No, there is something out there. It’s coming, already slipping over the sky like a thin curtain, the first of many curtains before it arrives in darkness and fury.

You will not learn much on CNN or Fox. They are all yelling past each other, just like the politicians did the last time it came here.

That time, just like today, we had enough warning for my husband to rush around with a checklist printed from a spreadsheet, filling water jugs, freezing block ice, moving aside or inside anything outdoors that might be used as a projectile.

It won’t care. It could crush the house like an eggshell, even though we trimmed the trees and paid a company $500 to cable the big maple so it won’t split. One neighbor already took down a hundred-year-old Oak that looked sound enough to me. He said it was hollow inside. I’m mourning. It spared the big tree twice, already.

Maybe it likes big things more than it likes us. We are so puny and soft.

I watch my husband pretend he can steer the course of events with a pencil and a clipboard. By tonight he’ll be oiling our guns and checking that we have enough ammunition handy. Last time, in the sudden calm after it roared out of town, motorcycles raced at 100 miles per hour on the boulevard not far from here. Guns barked and, for a few terrible seconds, a machinegun stuttered into the endless darkness. But guns cannot stop it. Prayers cannot stop it. For a time when it arrives, even the police cower off the streets in strong buildings, drinking coffee and staring at each other every time the building shakes.

My husband smiles at me. He’ll see that the flashlights all work. He will check the propane tanks and test-start the noisy little generator.

I will be freezing vegetable stew, so, if the propane does not last, stew can slowly thaw in the powerless freezer as we hunker down. We will watch the four walls, our pets clustered around us and making themselves very small, while it stomps and rips around outside. Then, in the awful quiet, if its errant eye misses seeing us, we will creep out into the ruined yard to just listen to the departing roar.

We will steal some glances into a sky free from the smut of city lights, maybe be brave enough to sit in lawn chairs as our bare feet rest on cool debris left in its wake.

We are not the religious kind, but we’ll thank God and clink glasses, grateful that we’ve been spared once more, and we will pretend that it will never come again, just as we have done every time so far.

After it leaves, for a few days until the street light returns, the Milky Way will climb the sky and the stars shine just for us, as they did for our ancestors.

3 Comments

  1. xdhz8

    Suspenseful and mysterious. Very good.

  2. SimonJM

    Wasn’t that a corking little vignette!

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