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A Moment of Static

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“Your call could not be completed as dialed. Please try your call again later.”

I listen to the tinny, computerized voice recite these scripted words against the background static of a failed connection. If only I had dialed the number from the Princess Phone in my teenage self’s bedroom; then I could slam the receiver down with a satisfying crack.

But there is no dialing. Only the tap of a touchscreen: one touch against the word “Dad,” followed by another touch against the word “end.”

I call again, a few hours later.

Nothing has changed: No electricity. No telephone “land line.” No cell phone. The battery died days ago.

He left me a voice mail, calling from a friend’s cell phone. I had stepped away from my phone, and missed his call by a NY minute.

I heard about an enterprising parking lot attendant in the City who is charging people’s cell phones for them. For $5, he’ll plug your phone into a car in the lot and fire up the engine for a spell.

This makes me wonder why my dad hasn’t devised a similar scheme in his NJ neighborhood.

I text my brother to ask how he is keeping his cell phone charged. He is a resourceful guy, and has managed to secure a generator for his home. He tells me that he has driven over to our father’s house to check on him, to survey the damage and to bring him to a place of light and heat. But he cannot convince our father to leave his home.

“He’s fine,” my brother types to me with his thumbs. “He expects to have his power restored soon.”

I will call Dad again, ask him to define “soon,” cajole him to spend a few days with my brother’s family. I will resist name-calling, though I have typed the words “stubborn old goat” to my brother with my thumbs.

I tap my screen and listen to a moment of static before tapping End.

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