I’m up. That’s good. I wash my face and hands; nothing has changed.

Oh! Look at that. It snowed in the middle of the night and must have fallen faintly, as James Joyce described “on the living and the dead.”

OK, don’t think about that now. I have to wash my face and go downstairs and turn the furnace on. I know I have to do everything today as though it were just another day.

Of course it’s not. It’s Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020. The most important election, both sides say, in the history of America, maybe the world.

Yes, it’s come to that.

This coming Sunday morning as you read this, the world, depending on your political point of view, will be lit by gorgeous light, or will begin sliding deeply into darkness.

Because my work has to be submitted the week before all of this happens, I sit with a 100-pound quandary on my chest. What do I do with this?

But I can’t think about that now. I just have to repeat what it says on my coffee cup. “Stay calm,” it reads, “Stay calm and carry on.”

America, indeed the world, may be hanging on a thin red string, like a broken ornament waiting to fall and break. But I have immediate business that can’t wait. She’s still asleep, and I keep MSNBC on at a low level so that I can follow this historic day, even though I can’t write about it.

Get up, I say, and begin your chores. I take the cover from Ms. Kramer’s cage and then put a coffee pod in the Keurig and fill the water container, just as I do everyday. I have only a few hours to write what you’re reading. Stay calm.

The furnace just clicked on with a comforting sound. Pretty soon it’ll be warm for her to begin the day.

I’ll get her down and ruffle her hair and make her laugh as I do every day, and prepare her breakfast, a soft four-minute boiled egg cooked just right, with a corn muffin and hot tea.

I am her protector. She is why I wear a mask. She is why I warm the house for her, because She is why I’m still alive. So get moving, old man. Duty calls.

I flip open the lid of my laptop and start writing. No matter what I begin with, it’s the last sentence that I woke up with at 4 this morning that burns me.

By the time you all read this, the clamor and counting will be over, and ballots will have been counted — maybe. You will all know this morning what I don’t know now.

I sit and write and erase, and write more and delete it all five or six times. I awoke this morning with two pages in my mind. But only four words of it remain.

It was 6 a.m. when I got up. It’s 9 now. She’ll wake soon, and I’ll have to have her breakfast on the table as I do each day.

She’ll come down, and I’ll rub her knees to warm them to take some of the pain away. It’s what I do each day as I run words around in my head. Soon it will be noon. Stay calm, I say, and carry on.

I stop writing now to go out on the deck and cover the furniture, about three hours too late, but I need the break. I need air. I stand in the cold and close my eyes.

All of you who read me know how I feel about the outcome of this election, and I’ve been wisely advised not to burden you with my angst.

As I stand here in a soft layer of early snow, holding a chair, I feel the need to say something, do something.

I long ago gave up the childish act of asking God for favors, but with the numbers growing bigger and heavier each day and the weight of it crushing my heart, I feel the need to pray.

There are two prayers from my childhood I still remember, but only one, the one Sister Rosanna drilled into me, has the very important and incredibly salient phrase required.

“Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation.”

And then there is that most important line of all, the one that shook me awake at dawn.

“Deliver us from Evil.”

Save. Send.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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