If you ask someone who works there, someone who knows the machines, they’ll say the steam turbines sound like a storm on the ocean. If you ask any of the sixth graders who take the field trip through the power plant each February, they’ll say it sounds like the static when the cable goes out, only louder. Like the cable is going to be out forever. But none of these kids have been to the ocean. This is a town that people sneak out of or escape. They don’t take vacations.

After the turbine room, the kids are shown an illustration detailing how the electricity, once created, is sent to the power stations, and from the power stations it shoots out in every direction over deteriorating powerlines. The lines split at every street, then again for each side of the street. And every time they split they get weaker.

They split one more time to terminate at their destination.

At our house, the line terminates outside of Hanson’s room.

Hanson isn’t here now. He’s at one of his appointments talking about why he gets so upset. The doctor says he’s too young to understand his own disappointment and anger. They are developing a coping strategy for him. Jenn and I have strategies of our own. They fail us but we won’t let them go. We would rather blame each other. We stand in Hanson’s room talking about what to do next.

I look at the line draping over our front yard. If I were outside, I could jump up and grab it. I imagine a lightning strike. Sparks shooting out of the outlets. I imagine finding the words to explain that love doesn’t matter anymore. The lights would get bright and then go dark. Every bulb would need to be replaced.

I open my mouth and what comes out sounds like a storm on the ocean. At one time that would have been enough. Hanson is in fifth grade. We can still figure this out.


Nathan Willis lives in Ohio. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of journals including Passages North, Outlook Springs, Cotton Xenomorph, and Jellyfish Review. He can be found online at nathan-willis.com and on Twitter @Nathan1280.