The lights went out. A sharp spurt of fear shot from my stomach to my heart. My heart responded by pounding. Thud. Thud.
Why was I afraid? Was this not still my house, with doors and windows closed and locked, with solid roof overhead?
But so dark! No LED glow from the bedside clock, no soft reflection from the kitchen night light, no comforting red bar telling me the phone was in its live cradle.
And so silent, too. No TV-DVR hum, no refrigerator rattle, no soft purr from the ceiling fan.
So dark, so quiet.
“Too quiet,” said a voice in my head, from a thousand movies—usually just before something horrible happened.
Is that where this fear comes from? The primal alert system that is triggered when things go too quiet in the dark, coupled with the tribal lore of the terror that can be unleashed only when the visual and auditory barriers erected and constantly maintained by modern life, fail?
Beside me, my husband snored. Why was that?
Why do women wake and not men, our protectors? Is it because we can never forget our own vulnerability? Is it because fear has been trained into us?
Every religion in the world praises the light and shuns the dark. Is it because we remember the darkness of the womb? But the womb was a safe place where we were nourished and protected. It was the light that heralded separation, pain and loss.
I have heard that in the time before patriarchy, darkness was revered. All life comes from darkness. In darkness, I return to the unknown, the potential, where anything is possible. Maybe that’s what scares me. Who—or what—I might be when I am stripped of everything I use to distract myself.
When the power gores off, whose power is it? Am I not the same person I was a minute ago? With the same intelligence, the same strength, the same will? If there is a power failure, why should it be mine?
The lights came on.