Gridlock: A Precursor to Her Sister’s Tattoo

“My sister Ruth showed up on day four of the blackout, the day we began to suspect this wasn’t an ordinary grid failure. There had been no blizzard, no fragility of the coming western Massachusetts winter. The utility company issued no major wind event. It wasn’t even that cold, though the early November air already held the crisp-edged reassuring texts about the prompt restoration of power and there were no earnest promises from the mayor.

At our co-op meeting two nights before, we discussed how to handle people seeking shelter in the converted factory building where Samuel and I lived with twenty other people, including our son Ben and his wife Sarah. Ben was obsessed with climate disaster, so we were off-the-grid and mostly self-sustaining. He’d been collecting cots and blankets and stockpiling food for something just like this—whatever it was. At the meeting we decided to keep the outside doors locked, take turns keeping watch, and set up a shelter in the community wing. People in town knew we had heat and electricity and we expected neighbors to show up—about three-dozen people so far—but we never anticipated Ruth. My sister and I hadn’t seen each other in over fifty years…”

Read more of this astounding scene by Ellen Meeropol to get a sneak peek at how Her Sister’s Tattoo evolved through the writing process!