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Blackout Bookends

January 21, 2009

We’d been a pair for a few weeks…no one knew…or so we thought…doing a terrible job of concealing our hearts and our love-stupid smiles.

Then, one hot, hot Thursday, the power went out across the continent. A full moon rose, silhouetting the CN Tower. A planet was visible, too. Mercury, or maybe Venus. Mars? One of those.

We fetched wine, water, bought fruit from a grocer eager to sell his wares before the heatwave drew flies to the broken coolers. Crept west along Queen, watched squeegie kids wave commuters through nasty intersections. Spending summer lounging on the curbs, they knew the flow better than any traffic cop. You could tell they loved this chance to boss the business folks around, ushering cars left, stop-sign hand halting traffic to the right.

Made our way through the humid park–crickets and small voices. Shared wine on a blanket with ten or twelve friends (ok, so now this dozen had seen us kiss, we accepted that our cover was blown). The tick-tick-tick of my bicycle as I wheeled it north, walking by your side.

Reaching my house, detached the headlamp from my handlebars and used it to navigate the stairs. Propped it against the taps while we showered together, enjoying the last hot water we’d touch for four days. Opened the fridge for a jug of water and caught a whiff of broccoli already mouldering in the crisper.

Our homes stayed dark till nearly Sunday. The city consumed by quiet, civil parties. People whispering on porches, voices so low you could hear water trickle in sewer grates over these dusky conversations.


Peter walks me to my door after a night at the pub spent swapping details of our recently smashed hearts. Beer, pizza and the hockey game on widescreen TV.

My glasses fog as I step in from the cold. The thermometer registers minus 30 outdoors, the thermostat says about 15 inside. Drop my shoulderbag, switch on a lamp, crank the tap for a hot bath. Wish you were here to snuggle me warm, but you’ve been out of my life a handful of weeks. Unlike our furtive early dates, sneaky little kisses, everyone knows about this. My choked voice and uniform of trackpants, blanket-cape and clutched tissues gave it away.

At 9:45, the power goes out across our end of the city, remains out till the same time the next day.

I look out my window, see the CN Tower illuminated by artificial lights, figure ok, worse comes to worst, I can camp out with Shahab, his condo tucked neatly at the tower’s base.

In the morning, it’s too cold to skip work–no one dares stay home to freeze beneath a pile of quilts. Commuters gripe into cellphones, “Yeah, I’m almost there, just a few blocks away, the streets are a mess! I’m so, so cold!” Like this is some sort of disaster, like their office attendance makes the world go around.

I realise I’m wearing the same tanktop I wore during the summer blackout, this time as an extra layer beneath three sweaters and a scarf. Then, you swept your index finger across my chest, said the trickle of sweat making its way south was sexy. In six summers, the shirt has become over-washed and stretched out, threads picked along the hem.

A few weeks ago, this observation, this convergence would have made me sad: the blackout tanktop a clumsy bookend to our affection. But, I’m too fucking cold to worry about things like that, and hurry home to make sure my kitten didn’t freeze on her own while I skulked around the office, warming my fingers with a latté and stack of fresh photocopies still hot from the machine.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. lilboyblue permalink
    February 17, 2010 12:13 pm

    Landlord- “Peter. It (the blackout) is everywhere.”

    “Ish okay…I know.”

    • welltailored permalink*
      February 17, 2010 12:17 pm

      “Peter–it is everywhere” is one of my favourite memories of that night, hahaha.

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