Fiction: Outage



They had been quarreling for an hour when they reached a lull, the way a climber reaches a ledge. They sat on the living room couch — the woman staring at the window, the man focused on the carpet — as the radio leaked its message from another room. It was the kind of jazz he didn’t understand, the kind of jazz she loved. It was barely there, like the smell of dinner in the house when the dishes are cleared away. The hush had lasted several minutes when the power went suddenly out.

Night had fallen hours before, so they found themselves in darkness. They didn’t look for a flashlight because each kept thinking the power would come right back, that it was only the wind in the wires. There was no way they could know that a small plane had crashed into a substation and caused a fire, and that it would be many hours, quite possibly days, before their power was restored, before the jazz that had brought them this far could be resumed. […]

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Charles Rafferty has published poems in The New Yorker, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review. In 2009, he received a creative writing fellowship from the NEA. Rafferty’s tenth collection of poems, The Unleashable Dog, has just been published by Steel Toe Books. His collection of flash fictions, Saturday Night at Magellan’s, was published by Fomite Press. Charles currently directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College.