Prompt: “Pure & Easy” by The Dining Rooms
The thing about the end of the world is you never see it coming. It comes like a bad divorce or a crippling disease. Looking back, the signs were always there but you are always living one day away from complete catastrophe and standing in that slim, sanctified space, you let yourself believe things aren’t as bad as they might appear to be until one day you wake up and realized they are much worse.
It is like being pushed from a ledge, this sudden sharp shove from one reality, constructed for maximum comfort and soft confusion, into a hard, bright light that shines relentless, brutal with its honesty, generous with regret.
These are the things I think about when I am drinking too much, which is to say, pretty much everyday and all the time.
You can make yourself crazy looking backward for signs. You will see them everywhere, the litter of your life. Clothes strewn on a highway in the aftermath of a hurricane. The high-water mark on your walls after the flood.
I was never one for reading the Bible. I kept one. I carried it with me, of course. The one my mother gave me when I turned twelve and she realized too late that I might be ill-equipped to make the virtuous decisions when times got hard. It must have been like watching a cake bake after you’ve realized you forgotten to add the sugar to the mix. How awful to realize you have used the last ingredients in your cupboard and you’ve forgotten the most important thing. And to have to sit and watch cake batter that’s already been mixed, apply heat and take shape. There is none of that life-affirming anticipation stuff parents secretly despise in each other. Just marking time until the timer says it done and you can pull the cake out, watch it cool, all the time knowing it is going to taste like shit.
What was I saying? Oh yeah. My mom gave me a Bible and I carried it with me everywhere, especially in those early days after the sky fell down. But I never read it. Mom read it all the time and it never did her any good. The sky fell and she got crushed. She didn’t even try to hide. She just stood there and watched the collapse.
I think she wanted it to happen. That’s my problem with most of the Bible people. They didn’t really try to make things better. They just kept walking around with their eyes watching the clouds, waiting for the promised things to fall out so they could stop pretending so hard to care.
This is bleak. I don’t mean it that way. I’m a good person, I think. I try to keep a positive attitude. I haven’t had to kill anybody. Yet. There was that one guy I had to lock in the attic but I’m pretty sure he would have killed me and probably eaten me. He looked so hungry.
I should say a thing or two about hunger. Hunger is pain. Hunger is life. There is something my high school math teacher used to say about transitive property. You can probably work that one out.
I’m not a negative person. I like to stay on the bright side of things. Except sometimes there is no bright side and you just need to stay quiet.
I like people. In some other life, I could have been a sales person. Or a teacher. They are the same kind of thing, you know.
I should probably tell you about the day the sky fell. Or, as they would say it in whatever history books get written, The Day the Sky Fell.
That’s a joke. The part about history books. No one is going to write any history books. History is finished. Everything from now on is just one long day.
And that’s what I want you to know about Life After the Sky Fell. It is tedious. It is boring. It is all just One Really Long Day.
I was going to tell you about the day the sky fell but what’s the sense in that? You’ll just read it and wonder what’s the sky thing anyway. Besides, its pretty boring. The sky was there, up top where it belonged and then there was a huge noise, the sound of metal bending and it was so loud and so strong that it made us vomit and cry. And those who were fast enough and small enough ran and hid in the small, private places under rocks, inside trees, the basement of the earth. And everyone else, like my mom, just stood outside and watched it all happen.
No point in really talking about that.
So, I should probably tell you about the thing that happened the week before. That’s where my mind goes when I think about the end of the world. The Saturday morning my dad called to say he was coming to visit and could I make a place for him to stay for a few days. I said yes. Of course. My dad is a neat freak and always brings his own groceries. Except this time he didn’t and he was an actual awful mess. His clothes were wrinkled and grubby. His hair unkempt. And there was a light inside his eyes that wasn’t tied to anything else inside of him.
“I’ve seen something I cannot explain,” he told me. Those were the words that brought to me the End of the World. It was a prophecy in reverse. Useless to prevent what followed, but maybe what gave me that head start I needed when the main beams of the universe cracked and the whole entire sandwich collapsed.