End of This World
She says we need to talk and that she will be here soon. Then silence.
I hate cell phones. Did she hang up? Was it a dropped call? Old-fashioned phones gave it to you straight up. Now I’m left to wonder. Oh well, she said she’d be here soon. I figure it is better to wait. Let it wait then. For an eternity let it wait.
My leg taps up and down as I take a seat on the couch. A thousand miles an hour it taps. The sound the poorly stapled, brown pile carpet under my foot makes is amplified by the silence of everything else around. I can feel my pulse trying to escape from my temples. There’s a cave in my chest as she swings the door open.
“I have something I need to tell you,” she says.
The light in the room begins to flicker and fade. I could be mistaken but I swear the walls are beginning to shake. I feel a shortness of breath and a lump in my throat begins to form. I swallow and cough but it is no use.
“It’s hot,” I say. I brush back the curtains and open the window. The wind, thick and smelling of hay, forces me back a step. I look out to a sky as black as the cloak of Death. I’ve never actually seen Death’s cloak but I imagine I’m looking at it right now. Mesmerized by the sight and sound, my mind begins to spin in revolutions that match the massive funnel cloud before me. Instantly, I feel as if I have been cheated. I turn on the TV: color bars, the radio: static. I look at my phone: no signal. It can’t be, I think to myself. Not like this.
I soak in the pictures on the wall. From one to the next: mother, father, sister and brother—I wish I had one last chance to see you all. I look back towards the window. It’s definitely on its way. So terrifying and yet because I could see it coming I have the time to marvel in its awe.
I sit back on the couch and peer up at the ceiling. She could not believe my nonchalance but what could I do? The end is coming. The goddamned walls are shaking. I imagine anyone not in a shelter is on his knees. What thoughts must be racing through their minds as the arm of God himself sweeps them up into the sky? Are they ready? Nobody is ever ready, but are they ready enough?
I wonder if a twister is a vortex into heaven. I say this out loud and it only makes her angrier. It only drives her point home. She keeps talking and talking and crying and crying. All I hear is the shaking of the walls and the howling of the wind. All I see is the torrent of the rain as it showers down upon me.
She asks me if I’m listening. How can I? It is now upon us. Glass ricochets off the wall as the windows shatter. My roof is wrested away into that deep and endless sky and soon I will be with it. The only question is in how many pieces?
She, unfazed by even a natural disaster, yells at me, “We are through.”
I feel my body come apart. Cell by living cell now quickly dying. Pain is just a word. The real thing is so much worse. It’s scalding hot and freezing cold. It’s all the hurt and sorrow and torture you have felt your entire life all condensed into one final moment. It is starvation. It is brutality. It is injustice without revenge. I take one last look into the sky and there is no portal there, no helping hand or smiling face. There’s only emptiness and tears. With my last breath I curse the world for its meaningless.
As hope fades away I hear the door slam shut, then footsteps followed by a car driving off into the horizon. The lights are back on, the TV, the radio. I look at my phone and there is a voicemail from my mom. She says it will be okay. In time, everything will be okay.