We picked up Aunt Sarah that morning at nine o'clock on the dot. She was standing out in front of the Arrivals sign, two bulging mustard yellow suitcases on either side of her. She squeezed into the back seat next to me and flashed a big grin. Her teeth were almost pure white, except for one, which was stained the palest yellow.
Everything about Aunt Sarah was large: her smile, her curly hair, her figure ("Curvaceous," she explained to me, in case I ever needed to borrow the word), but most of all, her voice. It seemed to boom out of the car speakers. Her voice had the slightest syrupy quality to it, which I was deeply confused about until I learned, many years later, that she had picked up the accent on a southern vacation and, just like that, it had stuck around ever since.
The entire ride back home, she talked. She told us about how the man sitting next to her on the plane dozed off and snored half the flight, and how she had smuggled an extra pack of peanuts into her purse if either of us were hungry (we weren't), and how she just couldn't wait to taste my mother's famous five-cheese casserole since it had been almost a decade since she'd last had it.
When we arrived at the house, she was the first one to notice that the power had gone out.
"Wouldn't be a trip without something going wrong," she sighed, dropping her luggage inside the doorway.
But since it was summer, sunlight lasted through dinner. The oven wasn't working, but the phone was, so we called for delivery. "Such a shame about the casserole," Aunt Sarah moaned repeatedly through dinner, poking a splintered chopstick at her chow mein.
When the light in the house began to fade, my mother set candles along the window sills and across the countertops. She withdrew dust-coated board games from the closet and poured Aunt Sarah a glass of wine, then a glass for herself.
"We've got Monopoly," my mother said, "Or Scrabble. Or there's cards. Sarah?"
"I think I'll just watch."
Aunt Sarah joined in anyway, once her glass of wine was depleted and she realized there was really nothing else left to do. By the fourth round of cards, the last glow of sunset was gone, and by the eighth, almost all of the candles had turned to soft wax and burned out. We were reduced to only our voices. We put our cards down.
Two circles of light appeared at a distance through the living room window. We watched as they came closer, then as they turned away and parked at an angle. Two figures climbed out of the truck and stood in the beams of light, then went to work. For a long time, we just sat there, watching. Then the bulbs above us flicked on. The room burned white. I shielded my eyes. When I was finally able to pull my hands away, what struck me most was how colorful it all was, the palette infinite.