The civil defense sirens had not sounded, not yet, but the power had been out already for several hours. She’d lit the votive candle in the little holder on the nightstand just as soon as the lights flickered; in the distance she heard the unmistakable sound of an exploding transformer—that’s how her father explained it. Picking up the volume of Hans Christian Andersen, she opened its dog-eared pages and thumbed through them to find a story: here was one, The Little Match Girl. Fitting, considering the circumstances. After a short while, she felt her eyes grow heavy in spite of the storm, so she snuffed out the candle. Burrowing down deeper into her bedding, pulling up sheet and blanket not quite over her head, she took in the reassuring soapy smell of them. But the wind picked up—she could swear it somehow knew she was lying there alone in the darkness—and now the angry lightning cast terrifying shadows against her walls, transforming familiar objects in her room so that she no longer recognized them. She rolled onto her belly and closed her eyes. Still clutching the book in her left hand, she felt the edge of its cover against her shoulder. With her right index finger she traced the word ‘Stop’ in cursive, which she had only just learned, picking up her finger to cross the ‘t’ and then starting again. She felt her fingertip growing raw from friction against the sheet. Would morning ever come? And would there be anything left, or would she be swept up like one of the filthy little girl’s matchsticks and tossed about in the wind?