My family sits at the table, huddled together in the darkness. My mother lights at least fifteen tea lights, while I roll my eyes at the fourth day of cold leftovers. Even with the tea lights, the room remains dim, and I poke at my hard bits of white rice blindly.
My eleven year-old brother grumbles for the fiftieth time about how freezing the house has been since the hurricane hit.
Hurricane Sandy ravaged through Milford four days ago, causing us to lose power and my brother and I to feel absolutely miserable. Milford appeared on the disaster list and school remained canceled for five days. Now, we felt we were going to die of boredom at home.
“I feel like I live in the 1800’s; this torture never ends!” I exclaim, exasperated with the never-ending day.
“Esha, there is nothing I can do. Just stop making a big deal out of everything and eat your food,” my father scolds me.
“Since I can’t watch TV, can’t go on the Internet, can’t text on my cellphone, and can’t call anyone, I can’t do anything all day,” I complain, experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.
My dinner half-finished, I slide my chair in and face my father grumpily.
“You know what, I am going to bed now because I can’t deal with this dinner anymore,” I tell my father with clear attitude present in my voice.
The next morning, I groggily take my breakfast and use up the last bit of charge on my iPod, when I hear the doorbell ring. When I open the door, my aunt stands outside and asks if I want Dunkin Donuts. I instantly hop into her car, excited to get out of the house.
“Before we head to Dunkin Donuts, is it okay if we take a little ride around Milford to observe the damage?” my aunt asks.
“Sure, I don’t mind,” I answer, not knowing what to expect.
We head through a narrow road with many woods, and I suddenly notice a house on my left. I roll my window down in astonishment.
A large oak tree tears the house in two, as if a chainsaw has been hastily run through it. Large branches lay in clusters creating a menacing forest around the house. The house looks as if it sits in a war zone with ripped sidings, a battered roof, and the yard destroyed. I catch my breath and try to look away from the shattered house, unable to think straight.
“Wow, can you believe what happened to this house? We need to check out the beach areas,” my aunt says, with a tone of concern in her voice.
Feeling a catch in my throat, I am fearful of viewing the damage in the beach area, but I do not protest against my aunt.
We coast down a few roads until the beach area arrives. The car cannot plough through these areas, so my aunt and I walk unsteadily on the street.
The waves crash rapidly all the way up to the sidewalks, a stormy gray covering the streets. The mist from the salty ocean burns my eyes. I start to shiver from the ocean breeze and feel as if I am standing underneath the Niagara Falls. The waves manage to throw the sand on the beach so high that it covers the legs of benches. Sewage covers the street, causing my nose to wrinkle up in disgust. As I trudge through the mess, the seagulls even seem to give me confused glances about what happened to their home.
Then, I face the beach houses and instantly cower in pain. They stare at me helpless, resting on only a few screws. Doors, windows, porches, and more are nowhere to be found. The houses seem deserted, probably due to mandatory evacuations. The beach area represents a ghost town.
I accidentally kick an abandoned kid’s toy across the street, and my stomach churns with distress. How could I be so selfish? Here I am, complaining about losing power for a few days when people have flooded basements, no doors or windows, wrecked bedrooms, and possibly no place to call home! The events from yesterday night flash before my eyes clear as day: the way I insulted my father, treated my food, and stalked off to bed. A pang of shame and regret travels through my body.
My aunt and I do not need to communicate to know we both saw enough. We enter the car without a word, and my aunt weakly turns her keys in the ignition. I put my head in my hands and exhale a deep sigh, tears preparing to fall out of my eyes.
Suddenly, something in my jacket vibrates, and I realize my mother is calling me.
“Hi mom, what’s up,” I ask, trying to disguise the hurt in my voice.
“Esha, I have amazing news; we got our power back! Now you can watch TV, text, or do whatever you teenagers have been dying to do,” my mom says sarcastically.
“Oh yay,” I murmur meekly.
“Well, enjoy honey. I have to get back to work now,” my mother says.
I hang up, without emotion. I do not even inform my aunt about the call, caring less about whether or not I have power.
Instead, I glance back at the beach and try to remember this moment.
Written by Esha Deshmukh, a junior at Jonathan Law High School in Milford.