Mary Ann Ellis

Before I left home Thursday night for my bridge game, Trey, my 16-year-grandson, asked, “So what happens if you just don’t go to bridge, Grandma?”

Before I could answer, Larry said to him, “Oh, she’s going to bridge, son. The earth could be crumbling at our feet and the sky falling, and your grandma would be tearing out of the driveway. Nothing interferes with bridge.”

Laughing, I said, “Trey, that’s not entirely true, but if one of us doesn’t show up at the last minute, then the others can’t play. I wouldn’t want to shut down the game unless some dire emergency arose. Are you sick? I know you’re not hungry because I’ve already fed you. I think you and Grandpa can manage until I get back. Bye. I’m off.”

As I drove toward town on Hwy 341, also known as the Golden Isles Parkway, ahead of me dark clouds were gathering. They also swirled in the sky above Alma. Ironically enough, as I passed by the radio station, a weather alert came on. 

“Bad weather’s coming to this area,” it promised. “Be alert.”

“Oh, well, maybe it won’t get too bad,” I told myself, glancing once more at the darkening sky.

In town the other bridge players were arriving, and Elaine had everything ready for us; we sat down to play. The sound of shuffling cards sent the weather to the back of our minds. Throughout the first round of play, my cards appeared prettier and prettier, the best I’d had in ages. My partner Dot and I could do no wrong. Our score rose steadily. I was the scorekeeper, after all. 

Outside, the wind whistled through the trees, bringing down small limbs and debris. Bright flashes of lightning caught our attention for a minute or two, and eruptions of thunder pulled us briefly from out game, forcing a quick glance out the window, but bridge must go on. We kept on playing . . . until the lights went out, that is. 

We all sat in the dark for a few minutes, except Elaine. She jumped up to gather candles. No one even suggested stopping the game and going home. We all put our heads together to figure out how to continue. Imagine 8 ladies holding cards and sitting around 2 candle-lit tables. In addition to the candles, several phones perched on top of glasses, their flashlights lighting the tables. The tables were well lit, but seeing the cards in our hands was a bit difficult. We had to wiggle and squirm to see our cards without showing them to everyone else. We continued to play as the storm raged outside.

Phone calls interrupted us occasionally. There seemed to be a tree down near Cristen’s house. Her husband was taking the children to a friend’s house. No problem. We played on. Carrie called to say that Dot had power at her house. Elaine did not, but we played on. At the end of the second progression, a bowl of luscious dessert seemingly appeared before each of us before I even realized it was coming. Other phone calls came in. Trees were down all over the county, but we couldn’t do anything about it. No one was hurt, so we continued our game. Wiping perspiration from our faces (Ladies don’t sweat!), we were playing the next to the last hand when the power came on and there was light. 

We finished our game in full light, and I discovered I’d won 2nd place. Sue had beaten us all with her excellent skills or some magical spells performed under cover of darkness. I’m not sure which, but we had fun. We’d never played bridge in the dark before; we probably never will again. 

When I told my sister the saga of bridge in the dark, she told me she’d been at a baby shower at her church—Oakland Baptist over in Jeff Davis County. It too was in the dark. Somethings you just cannot postpone—bridge games and baby showers are apparently among them.

As for Trey and Larry, they too survived nicely while I was gone. The storm came roaring through and took the power for a couple of hours. They even put on Charlie’s thunder shirt and saved the poor dog from the storm. They were watching some old, old western on TV when I came in: all’s well that ends well