Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Flash in the Night

It was the flash of light that first drew my attention to the window. I dismissed it as lightning at first. The usual evening’s activities kept me busy: dinner,  homework projects and a movie and finally a long book. I think I even drifted off for a nap, I was so tired.  It was late, and I was ready for bed. I was exhausted  yet, I could not ignore the bright flickering light any longer, so after sending the kids to bed, I dutifully trudged back into to the living room. Behind the sofa, with growing haste, I pushed the curtain and dusty blinds aside, and practically pressed my face to the dusty pane of glass to get a better view at the night sky above. The taste of the cold bitterness of the filmy glass pane tainted my lips. Craning my neck beyond the image of the living room’s reflection in the glass, I took a quick look above- and immediately was filled with a surge of fear and dread. I was transfixed in shock, as I could not comprehend or describe what I saw. I could not believe my eyes and for a split second, tried to convince myself that I was dreaming. A quick glance around the room brought me back to reality- the new reality. It was not a dream. A lump formed in my throat as I observed horrific, strange, pulsating waves of bright yellow light in the atmosphere above and the bright flashes of light. There was a stark contrast between the glowing. yellow aura against the night sky. Ripples of slow moving, yellowish plasma appeared to roll across the evening sky. Far into the distance, the horizon appeared as bright as day as if the sun were rising- and it was still the middle of the night! I stood transfixed in terror for what seemed like forever- my thoughts were drawn to my two sleeping children in the other room.

Carefully I turned the squeaky knob to the bedroom door so as not to wake the two sleeping children. By now, the oppressive bright glow was filtering through the bedroom windows- casting an eerie dim glow into the bedroom. Thankfully they remained peacefully asleep. I sat down on the bunk below and watched my youngest, sleeping peacefully, oblivious to the flashing light outside. I gently wiped a bead of moisture, glistening from the yellow light, with my hand- from his forehead. He did not wake. He was a heavy sleeper. At that time, I noticed it was uncharacteristically warm for a Spring evening- most likely attributed the atmospheric anomaly. Before long, I dreaded the heat would grow oppressively hot. I glanced around quickly in an attempt to absorb any information possible- trying in vain to come up with an explanation. I heard a soft spark, and a dreadful buzz. It was just as I imagined- the power in the house must be out. All the lights were off! And the only light, was the ominous yellow glow that loomed outside. A quick glance outside confirmed the global loss of power- and that the street lamps, sign lights and in fact all electricity in town was out as well. All I observed was the threatening bright light everywhere! By now it was almost as bright as the sun itself! My next quest, however predictable and uninspired, yet practical- was to get my cell phone. Stealthily, with renewed purpose I took a few steps into the kitchen and found it on the countertop. The sight of the cell phone gave me an initial burst of hope- yet it was false hope; there was no battery power. It was dead and apparently there was no reception either. My inability to place a call confirmed that the phone did not work and that I was completely detached from the outside world. Dejectedly I dropped the useless phone to the ground and purposelessly walked back into the kids’ bedroom. I felt lightheaded in fear. The sense of dread loomed over me like a wave.

By now it was almost as bright as day, and instinctively, my two sleepy- eyed children were stretching and yawning in their beds- eyes barely open, with outstretched arms asking, “is it morning, mom?” ….. just as if it were any other normal school morning. Transfixed, I stood in place with my eyes tightly closed, as I recalled those once dreaded early morning rushed routines where I would be getting my kids ready for school: clothes picked out, breakfast prepared, lunches bagged, dog- walked and then daycare and school drop offs and then finally the commute to work. And by the time I arrived at work, I was exhausted. Yet how I longed for those days; how I wished this was just another weekday morning. I could not believe how I used to dread those safe, predictable mornings. I almost made myself believe that the eerie glow was actually the warm sunlight on an early Tuesday morning- as I imagined it was time to prepare breakfast and get the kids ready for school. I could even imagine inhaling the scent of fruit flavored powder as I poured the fruit loops into a cereal bowl. I could feel the condensation of moisture and the weight of the cool gallon of milk as it was poured. I could see the eager cheerful smile as I handed his favorite green color changing spoon to my little boy at the kitchen table. Meanwhile, my older daughter would be brushing her hair and admonishing me for neglecting to feed the Sea Monkeys, yet again.

I wished that time could stand still, as I dreaded the explanation that I would have to give to my children, who were by now waiting expectantly on their beds as I stood transfixed into place with a glassy blank stare. How could I explain that it was not actually 7am, but the middle of the night? How could I explain the unexplainable aberration in words that would not frighten my children. In mere moments, they would learn the dreaded truth that it was not morning, and that something had gone terribly awry. They would learn that an atmospheric anomaly threatened our world- the planet where we live and call home. They would be faced with their own mortality as the progression of the events continued mercilessly through its course until the ultimate end. They would feel afraid, insecure and unsafe. I had to protect them, yet I myself felt powerless and vulnerable and alone. In an instant, various plausible scenarios and explanations flashed through my mind. I had to conjure up a believable and realistic explanation that would not illicit terror and fear- though I myself felt terror and fear. I could not tell them the awful truth that the sun was expanding, or that solar flares threatened to burn up the Earth to a smoky crisp. Would an eclipse be a believable explanation? Or could I just pass this off as Just another Tuesday morning? In my heart, I dreaded the reality that this in fact was the end, yet I felt that I had to protect my children.

Suddenly, the bouncing, energetic family hound interrupted my thoughts, drawing me back into reality as she ran into the bedroom, jumping on the bottom bunk. The dog’s presence offered a comforting sense of normalcy as she enthusiastically licked my younger one’s face. “Yuck!”, he exclaimed as he attempted to cover his face from dog slobber. My 11 year old daughter reluctantly climbed down from the top bunk and proceeded to the closet to select her clothes for the day. Then instinctively she walked into the kitchen, approached the counter, and dropped a small pinch of green powder into Sea Monkey container. “Mom…how long has it been since you fed these Sea Monkeys”, she reprimanded me. Clearly, both were oblivious to the strange, bright solar light that penetrated the house. And maybe it was for the best. “Umm… I thought I did, I don’t remember for sure”, I answered as usual.

By now, it was bright as day, and come to think about it, maybe it was day. I looked at the clock, and it was 7am. It was time for me to prepare breakfast, make lunches and walk the dog. Here I was standing around, not even dressed yet and I was running out of time if I didn’t want to be late for work.

This short story is based on the dream that I had last night.

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