This Is Only a Drill


The Whirligig 305

Prompt words in red.


     First, the porch light went out, then the entire house went black.  When it happened I’d gone outside and looked up and down our street.  We weren’t the only ones, it was the entire neighborhood.  My father leaned out the front door, waving his arms to frantically usher me back inside.  I tried calling the electric company, but the phones were out too, landline and my cell had no service.   It had now been four hours.

     We sat silently in the living room, our faces eerie in the flashlight beams.  I’m not sure what we were waiting for, why we were so silent and still, sitting so near each other on the couch, but my father had asked us, no, ordered us to sit, so we sat.

     It had been too quiet for too long, so when he spoke I was startled and I let out a small shriek, and I swear to god, I jumped a good foot in the air.  He abruptly asked, “Did you turn the locks on the front door when you came in?  All of them?  Are you sure?”

     I wondered what he was worried about, what he foresaw befalling us in our own home during a power outage?  Did he believe tragedy was waiting to strike in the dark?  I’d never seen him like this before, pale, visibly sweating, his hands trembling.

     I twisted around on the couch and drew back the drapes a crack, but all I could see was star after star in the deep blackness.

     “Close the curtains!  Turn off the flashlights, and shhhhh,” my father harshly whispered.

     Even the dog was nervous now; he came over to press himself against my legs, his ears flat against his head and his tail curled under his back legs.  I rested my hand on the top of his trusting furry head.  I think it helped calm me as much as it did him.

     We sat like that for close to 40 minutes before we heard a click and whir of the refrigerator as it started up in the kitchen.  The power was back!

     My father sighed and collapsed back against the cushions.  “Alrighty then… it was just a drill.  We’re safe this time.”  He picked up the remote, pressed play, and resumed streaming his movie.

     I turned to my mother, “What was that all about?”

     She only shrugged, but I didn’t like the way she averted her eyes and quickly asked if anyone wanted some ice cream.


 ©2021 Lisa Smith Nelson. All Rights Reserved



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