An accidental time machine.
By Sue Langenberg

–During a recent storm, I was vaguely aware during the night that Mother Nature had delivered a most rude message. She said, “CUT!” in my area and the show was over with power in an instant shudder.
–I groped around in darkness and came upon a time machine. It swept in and I was immediately transported to another century. The first place we stopped was my grandmother’s farm house where you could hear only her joints crackle and teeth soak overnight. Sometimes, she countered Fiddlesticks!” when I said something stupid.
–The first stupid thing I asked to my grandmother of circa 1956 was about why she didn’t wear spandex and comfy slides around the house.
–Before she could say, “Fiddlesticks!” I looked around and remembered that even she had electricity for her afternoon soaps and the Huntley/Brinkley report when they said, “Goodnight Chet” and “Goodnight David” to each other. She could even plug in a wringer washing machine and, if she didn’t run the toaster and Christmas lights at the same time, all was well.
–For the next 18 hours, this time machine sent me further back into a world that I had never encountered. My Third Age house was suddenly a ramshackle hovel with no wires leading to it. The outside had a silent street. I thought I heard the clip clop of horses, but no one was delivering pizza. An outhouse with a moon above the door flew into my back yard and a cook stove, whatever that is, appeared in my kitchen. “Fiddlesticks!” I heard the ghost of my grandmother’s mother say if I didn’t know how to work the thing.
–And where was the chilled wine, designer water or microwave popcorn? Where was the microwave?
–Not that I could see anything right away, of course, because my cell phone/flashlight turned into an unlit candle. I couldn’t find a lighter and wondered how those men used to use their overalls to light stove matches.
–Unaccustomed to such deafening silence, I suddenly realized how dependent I was on new-fangled technology. A candle doesn’t text and there were no “send” functions on the toilet paper. And how would one do laundry again? I seem to remember hearing something about a washboard, but thought that it meant a bad road.
–I heard nothing but my battery-powered clocks in sync with my beating heart. There were no Breaking News reports about murders or hangnails. No irritating commercials to mute. Nothing.
–Now what? I asked myself. No computer, no lights, no furnace. Worst of all, I had to use real playing cards for Solitaire. That is, if I could see them properly. “Fiddlesticks!” I heard everyone say.
–So I read by window light, but the chair didn’t fit right. I knit by the same light, but it wasn’t bright enough for small stitches. No outside activities because it was raining. So I paced awhile until the rain stopped.
–That was when I went outside and met some neighbors in the same time machine. I could tell right away that they were also in another century because none of them answered any of my texts from down the block. “Do U hve pwr?” But then I remembered I had a candle in my hand instead of a cell phone.
–So we all had to resort to regular conversation, a major feat. But I found that I knew nothing about the schedule of the ice man, grooming horses or the proper maneuvers for runaway carriages.
–Thankfully, I was returned to the 21st century after 18 hours. My computer is happy and, “Do U hve pwr nw?”