This one’s a little weird, I’ll grant you…and it’s a tad late for the holiday…and technically a little depressing…but also a little wordplay experiment I’ve been thinking about for a while..might come into use in some way in a bigger feature at some point.
“It’s finally here,” thought Graham as he looked to the sky, “the day we’ve all been waiting for.”
His wife caught him staring at the stars as they stood in their driveway, having just arrived home from one New Year’s Eve party to grab some items to take to the next.
“You’re thinking about it again, aren’t you?” she asked.
“You know nothing’s going to happen right? This is like Y2k all over again. And the Mayan calendar thing, and everything else. There’s just no reason to believe that this coming new year will be any different than the last.”
“No, nothing at all. It’s not like some big chunk of the moon Ceres broke off a few years ago and is now finally heading directly toward us or anything. This is it, Shirley. This is the end.”
“Says absolutely no one but you.”
“Not true, there was an article in TIME magazine about it.”
“Two years ago! And all they said was that there was an asteroid that might come close to Earth. That’s it!”
“You just don’t understand,” Graham said as he walked toward the house.
“I don’t understand?” she screamed as she followed him to the back door of their home. “The only thing I don’t understand is your absolute obsession with the end of the world. Every year its the same thing, sometimes more than once a year if some wacko like that Harold guy comes around. The end is coming, the end is coming! You know that our friends have taken to calling you Chicken Little, don’t you?”
“That’s just because they’re sheep, ignoring the facts as they stand.”
“Yeah? And what facts are those?”
Graham opened the door and let her enter before him.
“Simple. Look around us, the end times are obviously upon us. I mean, the Bible says it, the Mayans said it, the scientists are saying it, the–”
“Hold on there, Graham,” she said as she pulled out a paper bag from the cabinet under the sink. “You’ve gone over all this crap with me hundreds of times and you’re as aware of it as I am that the only leg you’ve got to stand on with this argument might be the Bible. But even that could be interpreted a hundred different ways, and doesn’t say it’s happening tomorrow. Give me something new. What makes you so absolutely certain that it’s today?”
“Well,” Graham said quietly.
“What?” Shirley screamed. “Tell me what the hell you think makes today so damned special. How? Why? What’s so perfect about today?”
“You promise you won’t laugh?”
“I’m not promising anything. But I can assure you that there is very little about any of this I find funny anymore. I love you, Graham, but this fascination you have with the end of the world is just about enough. So, tell me. Tell me why I shouldn’t just leave you right now simply based off the fact that you are completely nuts.”
“Okay, well, if you look at today’s date, it’s twelve, thirty-one, fourteen. Now, if you invert the numbers for the date, it makes those numbers twelve, thirteen, fourteen. Now, I’ve been doing–”
“Graham, if you’re going to tell me that this is another one of those things where you’ve been playing with numbers in order to make some sort of stupid coincidence happen, I swear I will leave you right now.”
Graham stared on in silence.
“Dammit Graham! This is ridiculous. Why? Why do you care? Hell, why does it even matter? If the world ends tonight, what will you have done differently that would make that knowledge worthwhile? You spend so much damned time trying to predict the end that you don’t do anything else. Why?”
“Well, I don’t know. I guess I just want to be right, I want to know. Everyone thinks they know the truth, they all think they’re so right. But they’re wrong. I know. I know it all, and I can prove it!”
“But you’re wrong every damned time. Every year, every prediction, every single thing about the end of the world, you’re just wrong.”
“But this time it’s different. I know it, and I can prove it, you see, because the number 13 has long been connected with–”
“I don’t want to hear it, Graham. Not tonight. Not any night, in fact. Tell me something, Graham. If you are so damned certain that the world is going to end tonight, how does that change what you’re going to do with today?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that if you have this grand secret knowledge, something that you’ve spent countless hours working on, trying to figure out and finally coming to a conclusion no one else has, how is that going to effect your last few hours on this planet?”
“Well, I don’t know. I guess I should probably let other people know about it, maybe I could get a spot on the evening–”
“And why do they need to know? What would you suggest people do? Hide in an underground bunker somewhere?”
“Oh, no, that would be ridiculous. No bunker built today could possibly withstand the–”
“Great, perfect, so, what should they do? Why do they need to know? Why does anyone need to know about the end?”
Graham again stares blankly.
“That’s what I thought,” she concludes as she drops the items on the counter into the bag and heads toward the door.
“Well, I mean, they might need to say goodbye or something,” Graham replies, stopping her from leaving.
“Say goodbye to who?”
“To everyone. You know, loved ones, friends, whoever.”
“Well, I mean, we’ve got a few hours left, we don’t have to say goodbye yet.”
“No, you don’t understand,” she said, opening the door and looking back at him. “Goodbye.”
“Wait, no, I mean, give me one more chance. We’ve only got a couple hours left, right? You don’t want to spend them alone, do you?”
“Graham, if you’re right and these next two hours are the last ones I’ll spend on this earth, the last thing I want to do is sit around talking with you about your morbid theories on how everyone is going to die. In fact, if that’s what’s going to happen, I want to spend all my time acting as if it’s going to happen by doing every single possible thing I’ve ever wanted to do with my life.”
“Then let’s do that.”
“No, because I’ve got to live with the knowledge that tomorrow will come.”
“But what if it doesn’t?”
“What if it doesn’t? You’re going to do the same thing tonight you do every night. The knowledge that the world is ending hasn’t done you any good. It hasn’t changed you, outside of the fact that you’re constantly worried that you’re going to just be obliterated. Instead, live it up. Live as though tomorrow will never come. Make that knowledge change your life.”
“But what if I can’t?”
“Then I have a hard time believing you really believe any of it. If anything, I’d guess this is all some crazy call for attention that everyone’s just gotten bored with.”
“But it’s not, Shirley.”
“Fine, if it’s not, then rest assured knowing you got to say goodbye to the one person left who still loves you. Goodbye, Graham,” she said firmly as she slammed the door behind her on her exit from the building.
Graham stood there confused. He stared at the door in the attempt to figure out what he should do. He stared and stared. Contemplative, he thought back to all he had learned that day.
“But she still doesn’t understand,” he thought to himself. “It’s all going to end, and she just doesn’t understand.”