Book Excerpts

Off the Grid (Snippet Three)

“The ambulance is on its way dad. Please wake up!” I cry still shaking his body getting no response. I turn him over on his back and try to perform CPR. Luckily the paramedics burst into the room and take over.

I turn around and frantically dig into his nightstand to get his documents to take with the ambulance and I hear my dad vomit. It sounds gross, long, and painful.

He still isn’t totally conscious but he coughed and is breathing steadier. I run behind the stretcher and the paramedics and jump into the back of the ambulance.

“Dad wake up.” I cry. His information documents crumbling in my hand and getting wet by my tears.

“Sandra, did I die? I didn’t mean to. I just couldn’t sleep in that room! I needed the pills to sleep. I didn’t mean to leave our baby all alone.”

“No. It’s Quinn dad.” I whisper.

“Oh. Sweetie. I’m sorry.” He cries as I squeeze his hand.

We get to the hospital and the ambulance take him to a room with me following behind trying my best to keep up.

The nurses set him up and then leave him alone for a few minutes to look at his tests. My dad is conscious again now.

“Hi.” I say nervous.

“It wasn’t on purpose, I swear.”

“I believe you.”

“I couldn’t fall asleep; I did not think taking one or two extra pills would have that impact on me.”

“They found 28 pills in your system dad. That’s like the whole bottle.”

“Oh wow.”

“That’s not fair to me dad.” I said angry but quiet because I don’t want to cause a scene and cause the nurses to scold me.

“I didn’t mean to Quinn.”

“I have to live and cope with the loss of my mother, then you should have to live through it too. You almost left me in this world alone. You were being selfish.” I said.

“Quinn, it was haunting me being in the room. She was haunting me. All I was trying to do was get some sleep sweetie, I swear.”

“Okay. Sorry dad.”

Then there was a knock on the door.

“Come in!” I said. My dad had walked to the bathroom in his hospital room.

A young guy, probably in his 20’s walked in. He is in a janitor suit though he looks like he can be a model. He has long light brown hair up in a bun on his head, he has a mustache, pretty brown eyes, and he is covered in tattoos.

“The beautiful Quinn. How are you?” He smiled at me resting his chin on his broom stick.

“Do I know you?” I asked confused.

“I’ve seen you on Mr. Morris’s desk at the university.”

“Oh. You know my dad?”

“Yes. I had him for Calculus. He was my favorite teacher. I was an engineering major.”

“Oh. That’s cool. Do you mind me asking why you’re working as a janitor if you have a degree in engineering?”

“I am 21 with tattoos and long hair and no experience. No company will choose me over some man with 10 years of experience and a family.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“It’s all good. I am actually leaving soon anyways, so a job doesn’t matter.”

“Leaving?”

“Forming a community off the grid.”

“Oh.”

“By the way, you are even more beautiful in person.”

“Thanks.” I blushed looking down. I have a bad habit of looking down or looking away when I get nervous.

My dad finally came out of the bathroom stabbing through the silence.

“Poe!” My dad said happily. I guess this was one of his favorite students. It was nice to see my dad light up like that when he saw this guy. Not every part of my dad is dead or full of sorrow anymore.

“Mr. Morris!”

“Sad to see you working here. You are one of the smartest students I have come across.” My dad said looking at him in his janitor jumpsuit holding a broom.

“Job market sucks.” He shrugged.

“I am sorry to hear that. This is my daughter Quinn.” My dad said.

“Yes, we met a few minutes ago.”

“It must be fate that I ran into you Mr. Morris.”

“What do you mean?”

“I have been thinking about this for a while, and with my current situation, I feel now is the perfect time.”

“Please just say what you are talking about.”

“I am going off the grid, and I am going to make a community.”

“Like communal living, like hippies?”

“Yes. But, it won’t be extreme or hippies. Just people who want to get away from society or the modern world or their troubles at home or whatever you want to call it.”

“Good for you.”

“I could really use a well-educated member to serve as the teacher.” Poe winked at my dad.

“I can’t leave behind my life or my daughter to live off the grid.”

“Quinn is welcome. It’ll be for families too.”

“You’re incredibly smart Poe, you can be the teacher.”

“I’ll have other tasks. Besides, you are smarter. I look up to you.”

“I’ll think about it. I guess it would be nice to get away. My wife just died and it is killing me to be in that house.”

“What about me?” I asked. It is upsetting hearing him ramble on with this Poe guy about just dropping his life and joining this community because of himself without ever mentioning me in it at all.

“Obviously I will think about what you need and want before deciding.”

“Think about it.” Poe smiled handing my dad a flyer. It was a piece of cardboard box, from a box that he probably snagged from the hospital, with the information written on it in a black marker. He has nice handwriting though.

“I definitely will.”

“I have my number on there also if you have any questions.”

“Great. Thanks for the opportunity.”

“I have to head to the next room. See you guys soon I hope.” Poe smiled leaving the room.

 

“I’m pretty sure he is not supposed to be promoting his community while on the clock.”

“It’s not a bad idea.”

“You are actually considering this?”

“Well, we both have been dreading being in the house. A change would be nice.”

“So what if we haven’t liked the house lately. That is because my mother and your wife died! Leaving will not cure our mourning. She will still be in our mind and in our hearts.”

“Quinn. Why not give it a try? We can leave if you don’t like it.”

“Dad! You are mourning and you are probably on stuff the hospital gave you. You are not thinking straight! We can’t just leave and go off the grid!”

“How about this Quinn, we go to his information meeting tomorrow and if you change your mind, we can embark on this adventure together.”

“Fine. We can go to the information meeting.” I said crossing my arms over my chest.

 

Putting other people’s happiness before myself has always been my problem. But, this is an extreme case. I am willing to just change to this unique and foreign lifestyle just to make my dad happy. Lately I’ve been like a mother instead of a daughter to my father. His mood has seemed a little better since Poe presented this idea to him though, so I’ll do it to make him happy even though it’s not what I want.

We pull up to this apartment complex. I guess Poe is hosting the information meeting from his apartment. We walked into his apartment, apartment 123 on the first floor. One wall was filled with incredible art, I am assuming he created, and the other wall was lined with rows and rows of books. He had a bunch of small couch pillows arranged in a half circle on the floor, I guess for us to sit on.

“Hi guys! Glad you’re thinking about joining.” He smiled hugging us with one arm. His other hand was holding a microphone. A small microphone that looks like it’s from a kid’s toy or stereo.

“Sorry. This is all the thrift store had.” He smiled when he noticed my curious stares at his microphone.

“It’s cute.” I laughed looking at the small size and the stickers it was covered in.

“It works though.” He said through the microphone.

“Works like a champ.” My dad smiled.

 

“Help yourself to some refreshments. I am going to give people a little more time to get here before I get this show on the road.” He smiled, so full of determination and exuberance. This community he is trying to build is his proudest idea and accomplishment, you can tell.

“Thanks.” I smiled. I left him and my dad to chat by the door waiting for more people and I went to get a glass of lemonade and a gluten-free cookie. By the time I turned back around, a few more people were sitting on the pillow seats on the floor. Most were young who looked like they worshipped the sixties. There were a few adults who looked like they lived in the sixties. Then there were a few single parents with teen kids like my father and me. These may be my neighbors if my dad is still interested after this meeting.

“Great. Full house! Let’s get this show on the road!” Poe smiled.

I stood in the back against the refreshment table admiring his passion and determination. I also noticed his incredible intelligence my dad talked about. He is a really smart guy. He is also really gorgeous. I never noticed how handsome he is until now. He noticed me disconnected from the circle, so he motioned me over to sit. I sat on a pillow next to my dad and Poe continued with his presentation and PowerPoint with his cute little microphone.

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