“Kill a Watt?” by Sheila S. Hudson

This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Home Improvement.” 

The summer of my discontent began early, in May. But the season of ironing with a flashlight in my pocket is forever ongoing.

Sheila on a mission

Sheila on a mission

It was not always this way. When we remodeled our entryway, the piece de résistance was a sparkling new chandelier gracing the stairwell. Dainty spirals of light pirouetted across the white banister and highlighted our new Berber carpet. That giddy sense of pride in a DIY job-well-done quickly changed to chagrin when I realized I would have to dust each and every one of those shards of glass in that dang chandelier.

But that was only part of the problem. It wasn’t until I foolishly tried to iron while watching television that I realized I was teetering on the tip of the proverbial kilowatt iceberg. When the steam iron erupted, my bedroom plunged into the abyss of a pitch-black night.

Groping my way into the hall, I located the emergency flashlight. With limited sight, I tromped down two flights of stairs to the basement, flung open the breaker box and frantically began flipping switches. I was home alone at the time, which added to my irritation. Mumbling to myself, I trudged back up the two flights only to witness the lights blink and go out again. Luckily, I still carried the flashlight.

I called the electrician who did the wiring. His telephone was no longer in service. I phoned my husband and it went straight to voice mail.

Did I mention that the air conditioning was off, also? I worked up quite a sweat. The stair climbing and stress triggered a hot flash, the arch enemy of women in the over-50 crowd. Needless to say, I wasn’t a very happy woman at this point. Who is, when dealing with both menopause and no electricity?!

Alas, on my third trip downstairs, the light went on—not in the bedroom, but in my head. It’s the new chandelier! All those bulbs use up too many watts!

I began my investigation. When the lights blinked off again, the chandelier in question was not turned on. Hmmm . . . I wasn’t using the lights in the master bath or the hallway. There was another fruitless trip to the basement then upstairs again to find the lights still not on. I stood in the foyer, fists clenched. My low mumbles turned into words I wouldn’t want my grandsons to hear. Then my husband came through the front door and casually inquired, “What’s the matter?”

After explaining the situation and my frustration, he calmly told me what the problem was. “You’re using too many watts. Turn off the makeup mirror light, the vanity light and the bathroom light. Oh, and don’t forget the nightlight,” he instructed. Then he plopped into the recliner and grabbed the television remote.

I stood there, floored. There were so many things wanting to leap from my mouth at him and his smugness, but I decided it wasn’t worth it. Doing as he suggested was only a temporary fix because the lights blinked off again. By this point, I—not the iron—was steamed. That’s when I gave up on ironing. Instead, I returned to the basement to vent my frustrations on the treadmill.

The gods smiled on me until that weekend, when I recklessly began my vacuuming regime. The over-wattage dragon reared its ugly head once again. I coped, but just barely. This time, I traversed the three flights of stairs only twice to flip breakers.

Later in the fall on an especially rainy, miserable evening, I plugged in the heating pad and adjusted it on my aching lower back. I nestled into the bentwood rocker in our bedroom, grabbed a mystery I had been reading and was thankful for the chance to relax. As the book’s plot thickened, my aches subsided—but so did the lights on that entire floor. Only then did I remember our little electrical issue.

purple flashlightStumbling in the dark, I tripped over a pair of shoes, stubbed my toe and ran my shin into the footboard of our king-sized bed. Groping along the bed’s frame, I reached for my trusty purple flashlight, which was my constant companion.

I have learned that whenever I dry my hair, plug in the curling iron, turn on the television, iron or even vacuum, it is prudent for me to carry my little purple friend. I take it to my study. It lies on the counter when I shower or put on my makeup. I have flashlights in the kitchen drawer, in the medicine cabinet, beside the front door and in the pantry. My purple companion—or one of its clones—accompanies me whenever the lights blink off, and together, we traipse downstairs to flip the breakers. I realize we should probably call an electrician, but sometimes going to the breaker box is the only exercise I get.

If you ever come for a visit, I promise to leave the light on for you, just like they do at Motel 6. But bring a flashlight, just in case.

HomeImprove 250_RGBSheila Hudson has been published in many anthologies, including Not Your Mother’s Books, Chocolate for Women, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Patchwork Path and Love Stories. Through Dancing with Bear publishing, she has released My Forever Valentines, Holiday Reservations, 13 Decisions That Will Change Your Life and the sequel—13 Decisions That Will Transform Your Marriage—is under contract. Recently, Sheila inked a book deal with publisher Take Me Away Books for a cozy mystery series entitled The Thursday Club. Since 1983, Sheila has been affiliated with Southeastern Writers Association, including two terms as president. Contact her at sheilahudson.writer@gmail.com, Sheila@13decisions.com or visit www.13decisions.com.

Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Home Improvement.” The book is filled with 65 very funny stories by do-it-yourselfers. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/Hm66pb) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1w5gLvO).

To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.