Electric, A Woman in Lockdown by Carly A. Krakow

I am a car that needs to be jump-started.

For every short trip to the grocery store, or to the post office, or to pick up my kid from school. A soul that just needs that jolt out of despair to keep going. 

Except, why did I settle on this shoddy car analogy anyway?  I don’t have a car. I live in this big city and I take the subway and I would not know how to jump-start a car if I tried.

Remember all those teachers? The ones who taught that you better write in a way that relates to the Lived Experience of Others, or you should not bother writing at all.

Didn’t they mean to tell us that Experience, with a capital E, is for a certain kind of person? (A certain kind of man, mostly.) The ones who jump-start cars, and send us to the store, and to pick up kids. (Or the ones who hire other men to jump-start cars, and hire women to shop, and to retrieve kids.) 

And Others, with a capital O, is for that certain kind of man, too. (Not all of these men can be the narrator, and the protagonist, and the hero of the story all at once. They need Others to rotate in, and fill up the desirable supporting roles. People like me just have to make do with the undesirable ones.) 

And surely capital L, Lived, is not for me, either. 

Living. Reserved for those born with an electric current already running through them. 

Didn’t those teachers mean to tell me that my soul, which I claim needs to be jump-started, is probably better described as a patient, cut open and bleeding, who needs to be resuscitated on the operating table? Or a blown fuse that needs to be replaced?

Don’t mix your metaphors!

You know, like in the fuse box the landlord checks every time he comes over because “let’s just make sure nothing else screwy is going on here” and it “could not be” the broken and leaking boiler inflating the electric bill. It must be because “women are always cold” and turn the thermostat up “much too high.” You know that, you do, of course you do, how could you forget. 

Well, I have never been a car mechanic or a surgeon or an electrician or a landlord. But it is all electric in the end, right? 

Just like the little electric lighter. The one that sizzles when it creates that tiny blue spark.

Sure, you know the one I mean. 

The new one he got last year, the one that he charges on the bedside table. The one that lights the cigarettes as he holds them to his lips before he guides their fiery, amber tips to my arm. 

Or my neck.

Or my waist.

Because the grocery store is crowded but there is nothing on the shelves, and the post office is closed, and the schools have moved online until the weather changes again, and the landlord took his wife and went down to Florida. “Can’t afford to get sick at our age. And better to have fresh air than to be cooped up inside.”

So no one is coming. 

And so we are stuck here in this apartment. And every time he ignites me (about four times per week now instead of the usual two) I remember that I, too, am electric. 

Just fuse the right wires or hit the right switch or pound my chest in the right spot with the defibrillator. Hold down my power key and make me restart. 

I will come back.

Just need to get a current running through me. 

I am electric, after all. 

A few burns were never going to put me out of service. 

© 2021 Carly A. Krakow

Carly A. Krakow is a writer, freelance journalist, editor, and activist based in New York City.

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