Shaky footing

January 14, 2010

Carl wandered through the house. Jacket on, travel mug in hand. “I’m going,” he said.

“Okay,” Audrey said from somewhere. Her voice was muffled. Carl followed it to the front closet.


She emerged through several coats and fleeces. “Have a good day,” she said.

Photo by Pam Wells © 2010

“What’re you doing?”

“Looking for the emergency kit.”

“Anything I should know about?”

“I just got to thinking… that terrible earthquake in Haiti. Those poor people.”

“Yeah. Yeah.” Carl sipped his coffee. “Maybe we should donate to the Red Cross.”

“Did that already. I’m restocking our supplies.”

“Okay, an extra layer of security. I get it.”

She gave him a “that’s fine, dear” look as she lifted a rumpled paper sack. It was marked “survival stuff.”

“At least it’s double-bagged,” Carl said.

Audrey spent the rest of the morning on task. Some of the old items were fine: One first aid kit. One transistor radio, which still worked. Two candles—only two?—and matches. The flashlight was okay, but the eight extra AA batteries were guaranteed fresh through 2008. She wrote:

Buy fresh batteries & candles.

The 45-foot utility cord could come in handy for… whatever. One shutoff wrench for the gas and water. Three mylar ponchos, paper, pen… but where was the deck of cards? She remembered the last time the power had gone out. They’d played hearts.

She went online and found more earthquake readiness information at She added to her list:

Find sturdy shoes… manual can opener… cash & credit cards… extra month of Carl’s blood pressure Rx.

A trip to the grocery store yielded food and water for three people for three days—no, seven days, she decided. She was glad Carl had bought a generator a few winters ago, but now she wanted to learn how to run it herself. That would stay in the garage.

By the time Carl got home, Audrey had reorganized the front closet to accommodate two plastic bins.

“I don’t know if this is the best place to keep them,” she said.

“Good as any,” he said. “That stuff’ll probably end up in the neighbor’s yard anyway. Along with the house.”


“We’re not bolted to the foundation. We get hit by a 7.0, we could be slippedy-sliding all the way to Idaho.”

She stared at him.

Move to Idaho.

© 2010 Pam Wells


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