I Thought I Had My Life Together by Rachel Hare Barry

One thing I know about adults is that they are really good in emergency situations. Adults always know what to do when something goes wrong. They know first aid and CPR and that choking thing. They know how to find a vein, and a pulse, and the closest hospital, and they know what to do if they get into a fender-bender on the way.

Do you know what I would do if I got into a fender-bender? I would call my dad.

It is safe to say that I do not consider myself a real adult, although I am rapidly approaching 30. This was never more apparent to me than when the power went out at my apartment last week, and I realized that I didn’t know where to find my flashlights. And even if I had, chances were the batteries would be dead.

I’m pretty sure adults keep a flashlight in every room, and they probably know exactly where their extra batteries are – even the obscure sizes. When an adult’s power goes out, they don’t freeze up, they make sure their children are okay, then gather the family around the table for non-perishable snacks and a game of Go Fish lit by a camping lantern (powered by fresh 9-volt E batteries, of course).

When my power goes out, I shut down and wonder whether Charles Manson has come back from the dead to murder me. At least that’s what I did last week.

The only thing worse than being in a bathroom alone is being in a bathroom alone when the lights go out

First of all, I was in the shower, which everyone knows is the most vulnerable place in the house. Ever wonder why your mother always told you not to go into a public bathroom alone? It’s because she’s seen Psycho. Murders always take place in the bathroom. The only thing worse than being in a bathroom alone is being in a bathroom alone when the lights go out, because then you feel like maybe you’re not alone.

I keep a fairly extensive list of villains cataloged in my mind for moments such as this, because my brain likes to wonder who might be standing there, just beyond the shower curtain, staring at me in the dark. Maybe Ted Bundy’s out there with a creepy smile on his face. Maybe Buffalo Bill is putting on his lotions in the mirror, getting ready to toss me into a hole in his basement. Or maybe it’s the alien-inhabited farmer from Men in Black with his lopsided jaw covered in decaying skin.

So there I was in the shower, rendered helpless in the sudden dark and fairly certain that Michael Myers was just a feet away with his giant butcher’s knife. I wondered how long it would take for my roommate, Rosie, to come to my rescue. I was fairly certain that our flashlight-with-the-most-likely-dead-batteries was buried somewhere in the couch downstairs, which meant that Rosie, who was microwaving soup in the kitchen, was closest to it. I tried to estimate whether she could toss me the flashlight and somehow manage to outrun Michael Myers. It didn’t look good, but I figured she was obligated to try.

Rosie, however, was in quite a precarious position herself. If she was in the kitchen, she would be standing right next to the basement doorway, and who knew what might emerge from that gaping hole in the darkness? Probably a wayward member of the Donner Party, galloping up the wooden stairs on all fours in a deranged fit of hunger. I hoped she would offer them the soup.

Eventually, I fumbled my way out of the bathroom, clutching a towel across half my body as protection while silently punching the air in front of me with the other hand to ward off Hannibal Lecter who had come to harvest my liver.

Suddenly, I heard Rosie call from the bottom of the stairs: she couldn’t find a flashlight or her phone, but she was coming upstairs to help, and she was carrying a bowl of soup. I called back that I also had no flashlight or phone, and I was nearly naked. Thus, we traversed the stairs, Rosie, balancing her hot soup, and me, punching my way towards her in my towel.

When we reached each other, I lowered my fist and we clutched hands to ascend towards my room, where I promised Rosie I had left my phone. Of course, once we got there, I couldn’t find it. So we stood there, holding hands in the darkness, whimpering quietly and waiting for The Candyman to appear, until the power was finally restored about 30 seconds later.

The very next day, we went out to buy two new flashlights, a camping lantern, and all the extra batteries Walmart had – even the obscure sizes. We’re kind-of adults now.

Rachel is a Maryland-based writer who tells stories about life, family, growing up, and being human. Her favorite subject is the mundane (and the inordinate amounts of dog urine she has cleaned out of her floors).