Streetlights, Satellites and Falling Stars
Adele Annesi - Who decides when there is light?
Nighttime Scene at Rittenhouse Town Historic Site - Gina Marie Lazar.
The front of our small house was dark. The streetlight that sometimes blinks on but mostly blinks off was out again, so I called the power company. This time I reached a live person. The man listened for a moment. You should talk with the FBI, he said. I hardly think this is worth bothering them, I answered, though I felt a little thrill. It’s no trouble, said the man, and got someone else on the line. Here, Mike, talk with this woman. She says her streetlight is out, been out for a while. Had I told him that, or had he just known? Hi, this is Mike, said the other man. I suddenly felt I was bothering him but was afraid to hang up. They can find people, you know. Have you called before? Mike asked. He sounded like he knew I had called, like my voice was familiar. I decided to be honest: it’s the best policy. Yes, I said, but not the FBI. I’d never call you without good reason. I shouldn’t have said that, I thought. It might make the first man look bad for passing me on. I think he said his name was Joe. I should have asked, but it’s hard to remember everyone. I heard breathing, like Joe was listening. How long has the light been out? Mike asked. I was in trouble now, I thought, since it had been out for a while. I’m not sure, I said, but it didn’t sound convincing. A few months, maybe longer. Yes, I’d definitely be in trouble for waiting so long to report it. Why did you wait to call? Mike asked. I wanted to remind him I hadn’t called him, not directly. I was afraid to answer, but he sounded kind and I haven’t been around much kindness lately. Then I thought, no, don’t fall for it. They’re being nice because they want you to spill yourself, and you don’t want to do that, not with strangers. It’s okay if we don’t have a streetlight, I said. We’ve been without one this long, we can wait. I hung up before Mike could answer. Then I went back out and around the side of the house. There’s a disadvantage to a predawn moon, I feel. It casts too much light see all the stars. Once I saw a falling star over our roof. I needed to see it. Now I look for them, even though I feel you won’t see a falling star if you’re looking for it. Sometimes I see a satellite skitter across the black. I see these things better when it’s dark. I guess I shouldn’t have called the streetlight in after all, even to kind people. Still, I like to feel safe, like we’re not without a light when all our neighbors have one.