With little to gauge it against, time dragged. There was another fight, further away this time. Dean slipped off the back of the couch and padded down the hall. Ella checked her phone and sighed when only an hour had passed, though it felt more like four. She tried to swallow and found it hard, her tongue sticking to the roof of her mouth. She finally eased herself out of Tanner’s hold and headed to the kitchen.
“I need something to drink. Want anything?” Not that there were any options.
Tanner shook his head. “No, I’m good.”
Ella took a glass out of the cupboard and held it under the sink. When she turned it on, the faucet shook; a few sputtering pulses of water splashed into the cup before it died down to a dribble.
But he was already coming over. “What happened?”
He held the candle up and swore. Both realized how foolish they had been, not to have thought to get a stock of water as soon as this had all started. They should have filled every pitcher, every bowl. Now they had a quickly slowing dribble of water.
“Get whatever you can!”
Ella snapped from her moment of fixation and started to empty the cupboards of every cup and bowl. Tanner put them under the faucet, one by one, until the water stopped entirely. He looked at the few they had managed to fill, realizing how utterly unprepared they were for this.
“Is that mud?”
Tanner held up the cup to catch the candle light a bit better. There was a tinge to the water that caught the light when he swirled the cup. “No, but it is dirty. Dust must have gotten into the water lines somehow?”
Ella’s mouth felt even dryer now without something to wet it. “Well, can we just- I don’t know, let it settle?”
“That would probably work if we knew it wasn’t contaminated. Who knows what else is in there with the dirt, though. But I have some in my apartment.”
For once, Ella couldn’t find any reason to tease him about buying bottled water, even if it did mean leaving to get it. That door, with all that was going on, was her token of safety, and she looked at it as if leaving meant some horrible fate.
“Look, there’s no reason to start getting paranoid.”
“Don’t leave me here, please.” She couldn’t even vocalize why she was scared, she had lost the peace of her home, lost the light in the sky, even lost the most basic utilities of power and water. Was she going to lose him next?
He put his hands on her shoulders and gave them a reassuring rub. “I’m just going up to my apartment, I’ll be right back. Nothing bad is going to happen.”
“Then let me go with you.”
“Fine, you can come!” he laughed, exasperated by her outburst. “I just didn’t think you wanted to.”
She didn’t, but she would rather be with him than left alone. “I’ll help you carry stuff.”
He raised his hands in mock defeat. “Alright! Let’s go.”
Ella grabbed her coat, not really knowing why since it wasn’t like they were going outside, but it felt like they were. She locked the door behind them and they started toward the stairs. With power out, the elevator was out. They had to walk twice as far down the hall, but it was empty and mostly quiet except for the sound of talking from one apartment, the sound of sex from another. Well, Ella couldn’t argue that was a bad way to pass the time.
They arrived at Tanner’s apartment without incident and she started to relax as her fears failed to materialize. He changed his clothes, since he’d been barely out of bed himself when he got to Ella’s that morning. They filled a grocery bag with some better supplies: protein bars, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, chips, and ranch dip. Ella grabbed the chocolate, too. This was a chocolate kind of disaster.
Tanner also got some blankets. He figured it wasn’t too long before they started to notice the lack of heat. Along with some more candles and matches, and some good old batteries and flashlights, they each took a gallon of water and headed back to Ella’s apartment to wait this out in a bit more comfort.
Once they got the new supplies sorted out, they each had a glass of water over some fruit and eggs, curled back on the couch with the extra blanket, and now with the additional light, Ella was able to finally get to her book. She read out loud to help pass the time, and it worked wonderfully. Ella might almost have forgotten entirely what was happening outside the windows, until the fire alarm split the peace.