When I got home from work on Saturday, I noticed things were cold.
My whole house had a certain chill to it, as if someone had left the window open or something.
I also noticed a large, massive, in fact, convection oven taking up a quarter of our counter space in the kitchen.
For we had no gas.
Natural gas--that's what our house runs on. That means we were without the following: No oven or range, no hot water, and no heat.
You see, the company that used to fill our tank with gas used to check how much gas we had at any given time. Once a month, they would do rounds, check the level, and ask if we wanted more. Then we would tell them yes or no, and they would give us what we wanted and then leave us alone.
They were nice.
But then this new company (notice how I'm being polite and not giving names out) bought the old company and started just filling our tank up to the top every time they felt like it--which was usually right before winter when gas prices are highest, or in midwinter--you get the picture. Mom was shocked that they started this new way of handling things without telling her about it. So she did what anyone would do in such a situation: she yelled at them.
Watching my mother yell was impressive, empowering. Mom yells so rarely. It really is entertaining.
The frightened gas company reacted as any terrified gas company would, they took us off the list of people whose tanks got filled whenever they dropped below 100% full, leaving us to monitor the level of gas in the tank.
Since we had not responsibly monitored the level of gas in the tank, we had now run out of gas completely. The gas was gone, and it was feeling mighty cold in my house (most of the chill was in our relation to each other. See, in a crisis, we all blame Dad except Mom, who blames herself. Oh, and Dad blames Mom too).
The convection oven was Mom's attempt at keeping our lives as normal as possible.
So we'd have food.
Because we cook so often...
My father, once denied something, wants it more than anything else. Denied heat, he huddles under a blanket shivering until he manages to convince my mother it is freezing in the house and we are all near death.
I have asthma.
That being such, I avoid things like mold, perfume, and smoke of all sorts.
Mom, driven by fuel-induced guilt, decided to light a fire in our fireplace. Mom knows how to do this. In fact, during the early years of their marriage, Mom taught Dad how to light a fire in a fireplace, so she knows what she's doing. Despite Dad's attempts to make her believe otherwise.
When Mom lights a fire, no smoke comes into the house.
So she lit a fire, but before she even moved away, like a owl swooping in on its prey, he dove in brandishing a poker, and yanked all the logs and newspaper forward to the front of the fireplace.
This accomplished two things: 1. It caused the newly-lit fire to go out and 2. It caused all the smoke from the fire-that-was-but-was-now-no-more to pour into the house rather than out the chimney.
I had locked myself into my room and shoved several towels under my door before the fire had even been lit. In addition, I had thrown open the one window in my room that still opens (who knows why the other one doesn't anymore). So my room was freezing cold, but smoke free.
I commenced watching every episode of The Gilmore Girls: Season Six. Rory is a poor little rich girl, and I'm not a fan anymore.
But eventually, all good things come to an end. For me, this moment arrived when I became thirsty. Also, I was hungry. And I kind of had to go to the bathroom. Because 1. there is no Pepsi in my room, 2. there is no food in my room, and 3. there is no toilet in my room, I was out of luck.
So I saturated the facecloth I had in my room with the remainder of some water I had taken to bed with me the night before. I placed the towel over my mouth and nose, fire-safety-style. Then, I ran out of my room and closed the door behind me, took care of the various things on my list, and darted back into my room.
It worked like a charm.
Then, shockingly, something else happened: I had to get ready for bed.
This involved my brushing my teeth, washing my face (cold water), and rubbing various chemicals on my face to purge the horrible bacteria from my pores. To do this, I had to put the rag down...
What followed was the worse asthma attack of my life. It was so bad, I wanted to call an ambulance, but my phone isn't working because something freaky happened that I don't understand.
Also, I no longer could breathe, so I couldn't call my family for help. No, I was trapped, gasping like a fish out of water (pardon the cliche), helpless. What few mouthfuls of air I got into my lungs were expelled an instant later as I hacked and coughed in my misery. Luckily, I managed to get down two puffs from my emergency inhaler, because no one came to see if I was okay, even when I passed out.
That's how much my family loves me.
The next morning, I found a note shoved under my hand when I woke up. Someone had snuck into my room while I was sleeping to leave a note for me, placing it in my hand so they could be sure I would find it.
This is what the note said:
I'm sorry the fire made you cough so bad.