Joe and Susan Tanner, the people living next door to Megan, had two children around ten to twelve. Rachel, their daughter, was just as athletic and fast as her older brother Joe Jr. They were always out in their back yard with loud music by the pool. Sometimes they would create obstacle courses or play baseball. Fall was her favorite time of year because everything was quiet in the neighborhood. The children were in school all day.
However, it was the end of July.
Megan spent endless hours in her office and living room glued to her laptop; she was a freelance author and proofreader. It was a career she loved. A publishing company was trying to get her to commit to a new series of books. The previous series was popular. Since she was a small child, she had loved books. Her favorite books were Nancy Drew Mysteries and stories of real people like Mary Todd Lincoln.
At a young age, she started to write stories, poems, and in a diary, all about a boy named Tommy, who caught her eye. After college, she worked for a newspaper for a few years before starting her own freelance business. It was great when the neighbor's cooperated and kept down the noise.
Megan was in the middle of uploading an article when the power went out. Disappointment filled her. "Why is it always at the worst time?" She asked her dog, Barrett. He just sat patiently looking up at her, moving his head from side to side.
Megan found Barrett at the pound when he was just a couple of months old. "Black Labs make good companions." The teenager at the shelter told her. How could she resist his big sad eyes? She took him home that evening and named him after one of her favorite authors, Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
In her neighborhood, the electricity would go off all of the time. She lost all communication with the outside world, with the power out. There was not a cell signal in her town without a micro-cell tower hooked to the internet. Her landline ran through her internet as well.
She heard voices outside. The neighbors were in their back yard. What were these people doing? Joe was working hard at putting up a tent. Susan was carrying blankets, pillow, and mattress pads outside. Megan's curiosity was piqued. They were carrying flashlights and camping equipment out to the back yard. "Are they going to camp out, Barrett?"
Megan knew she should be working on an outline for her next book. She could work on her laptop for eight hours before losing the battery. They had her curiosity peaked. Joe Jr. was trying to help his father set up their tent. It was not a modern, easy up kind. It was an older tent that was hard to get to stand up. It was large enough for eight to ten people, she guessed. They almost had it up when suddenly a tent stake pulled loose, allowing one end to fall. She watched as they tried again; it took over an hour to get the tent put up.
They disappeared from view, and then Joe came pushing a charcoal grill. After he filled it with charcoal, he lit it. Megan watched as Susan and Rachel started carrying out hamburger, hot dogs, and steaks for the grill. Next, Susan carried a bunch of veggies out for kabobs. A little while later, Megan could smell the mixture of smoke and grilling burgers. It made her realize she missed lunch.
Megan knew that Joe was in charge of the music. He was playing an 80's radio station. It was the same music her mother used to play all of the time. It made Megan miss her; she usually called her every day. She had been so busy with work that she realized it had been three days since they spoke. Making a mental note, she would call and check on her parents as soon as she was able.
It was a huge inconvenience, not being able to do the laundry or run her vacuum. Not that she would that time of day anyway. It was just the aggravation knowing she couldn't if she wanted. That is what it mostly boiled down to, inconvenience and worrying about it being out too long.
The kids next door played in the pool while dinner was on the grill. Susan yelled for them to get dried off; the burgers were ready. They all sat at a folding table and had their meal. Megan could hear them laughing and talking.
As she watched this family making the most from a difficult situation, she remembered one Christmas, as a child. The electricity went off. At that time, her parents never thought about having a natural gas cooking stove. When the electricity went off, they had no way to cook dinner. Her father got the bright idea he would pull the propane grill out of the garage and cook in the driveway.
The grill had one large burner on the side. Megan's mom picked the turkey off the bones and threw it in a large pot with chicken broth and mixed vegetables. They had turkey soup for Christmas dinner. She smiled at the thought of her father out in the driveway, checking on the soup every fifteen to twenty minutes.
It was about seven in the evening; Megan took Barrett for a walk. They always went one to two miles. Barrett was full of energy and looked forward to getting out of the house and sniffing the neighborhood. It was a much-needed break for Megan's shoulders and neck, being at her laptop so much. She started the walk around several blocks by going right, the opposite direction of the Tanner's house. She would pass them on her way back home.
As they came around to the Tanner's, Susan yelled for Megan to wait. She brought Barrett a wiener. "Good boy!!"
"Looks like you are camping out."
"We decided to make the best of the outage. We are going to make smores in a little bit. Once it is dark, Joe has a couple of scary stories to share."
Megan smiled, "I remember camping with my family. We always camped near a river. My dad was a big fisherman. Once he took my sister and me out in a rowboat to a red-eye and bluegill hole. We must have caught fifty fish and turned them loose. That was the most fun I ever had fishing."
"Joe and I used to camp all of the time. We have decided to take the kids to Cooper Falls next weekend. It will keep the kids off of their devices."
"That would be a good way to unplug from the world." Megan agreed.
"Would you and Barrett like to join us for smores? I know dogs can't have chocolate, but I am sure we could make something for him."
"I appreciate the offer, but I need to get back to my writing. Barrett would never forgive me if he didn't get to go for his walk."
"Have a good evening. I hope the power is on soon."
"If it comes back on, will you go inside?"
"No, I think we will camp out since we are already set up. Good night Megan."
"It is important to make memories, good night, and have fun."
Megan started back toward her house as Susan walked away from the gate. She could hear her say, "Are you ready for smores?"
Suddenly Rachel let out a scream; Megan stopped to make sure she was not hurt. She started laughing when she saw Joe Jr. chasing her with a large toad. "Kiss the frog…he wants to kiss you." Rachel kept running from him, screaming. He tripped, as he fell, he tossed the frog. It landed on Rachel's head. The child froze, afraid to move until the frog jumped to the ground.
Susan looked at Megan; they both laughed. Barrett and Megan continued toward their house. Just as she stepped across the threshold, there were beeping sounds of appliances coming back on as her lights lit up.
Having the power restored was always a joyous feeling. Megan was happy for her neighbors; they found a way to connect in the middle of an inconvenience. As she smiled, she knew the neighbors were making memories that would last a lifetime.