To begin, car and truck exhaust mixes with light snow flurries in a hilly town. Slurry covers broken asphalt. Wooden utility poles leaning at crazy angles hold up sagging lines. Snow and ice weigh down the lines. A maroon Honda Prelude, rusty and missing a door, with a broken tail light and dented sides, is trying to navigate a turn through the slush and go up a small hill when the engine stumbles and dies in a cloud of blue smoke. People stumble out of the car to help push it up the hill and out of the road. I run over and help, putting hands on the cold, wet trunk lid, and push, slipping and sliding on the broken, icy asphalt road. We do it. A small cheer goes up.
I know the people in the car. I wish I could help them more but I have problems, and wave good-bye, rushing on to school. The classroom is packed. I’m in fifth grade. The teacher explains an assignment. The students will be divided into teams. Each team will be given an article. They’ll read it as individuals, discuss it in a group, and then write individual essays about the article. Then she singles me out to tell me that she has a special essay for me, and I will work alone. My reading assignment is denser and longer than the others. I feel isolated and confused.
Taking the article with me, I head to my work. Two concrete buildings make up a small compound. I live there with others. Most are young, but a few are older than me, but I’m in charge. A storm is coming, but we also worry about attack. I explain that we have to secure everything outside so it won’t blow away, but also so we’ll be safe inside. I put Randy in charge of the rest to do this. Randy is upset because he doesn’t think others are contributing. I have to talk it through with him. Meanwhile, he and his team are doing a terrific job of moving things to make us safe and boarding up the place. I just need to keep encouraging him.
I discover a problem with our plan. The main room has a big window that overlooks the sea. It’s calm but I worry about that window. The rest is all covered, but all someone would need to do is circle the building. They’d discover that window and smash it in.
Options are discussed, decisions are made. Some of which we’ve done must be undone. Showing me what must be undone, Randy shows what they’ve done. I’m impressed, but I also spot weaknesses and explain that to them. They begin the re-work.
Going to the second building, I discover an old man living in the cluttered, windowless back room. The room reminds me of part of an old gas station. The old man is a friend and has a cat. I help him lock the cat up, but the cat is trying hard to get back out. We discuss papers that need to be read and written. Then I make sure he’ll be okay for the coming storm.
Returning to the first building, I check on food and supplies. We’ve done everything that we can, but anxiety that we’re not ready nags me. I can’t think of what else we can do. Feeling helpless, I try to think up answers but I don’t know the questions and issues.
I’m left waiting.