The phone rang and I reached over to grab it so fast that I nearly fell out of my chair. “Hello?” I answered, but all I heard was a loud, high-pitched tone. “Damn!” I pulled the phone away from my ear. “What the hell-“ I was cut off when a smooth female voice started to speak. “Emergency. This is a worldwide emergency. All beings are in danger due to imminent comet approaching in 6 hours.” I scoffed. This is probably a prank call from a bored 12 year old. “This is not a joke.” the voice continued. “Comet will make a direct hit in 6 hours. Please stay calm and stay with your loved ones. Further information can be found online through all news channels and keep updated through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.” My hands began to shake slightly. I could’ve imagined it, but the final words that came from my phone will always haunt me. “You have one life and it’s going to end soon. Make the most of it.” And with a final click, the voice was gone.
For the first hour, my phone continued to ring off the hook as I sat still and motionless in front of my TV with my laptop quietly heating up on my lap. Messages flooded into my inbox from bosses, old lovers and high school classmates saying that I was a great worker, apologies with reasons I don’t recall and an onslaught of memories that I had long filed away. As I watched the reporter talk about the axis and momentum of the comet, a part of me wanted to believe that it was all a hoax. The government wanted everyone to stop complaining and pay more mind to them or maybe it was a rich guy’s sad idea of teaching everyone gratitude. For all I know, the comet could even miss. I couldn’t accept that six hours was all I was going to get. Yet, I continued to diligently answer each call, reassuring, crying and yelling with everyone. What else can I do?
For the next hour, I wandered the street and tried my best not to lose my faith in humanity. Broken glass lay strewn all over the ground, couples straight up naked in the middle of the road while cars honked endlessly at them. Discounts filled stores still with clothes still swinging, but stores with bold red letters screamed, “Take it all! It doesn’t matter anyways!” with things like novelty garbage pails gone within minutes — one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There was no point in driving because of the amount of people wandering the streets, carefree and carelessly. It was like the illusion of safety was popped and what we were left was who were truly were. By now, my phone had generally quieted down, so I was surprised when I received a call from an unknown number. “Hello?” I answered, hoping it was the same cool voice from 3 hours ago taking everything back. “Hello?” No one responded. I tried a third time. “Hello? Is anyone there? The world is ending and I don’t want to be that jerk that hangs up on you. For all I know, you might be someone pretty important who needs company.” There was a sigh on the phone and a voice so small and fragile that I had to lean in to hear. “I love you. You were the first person I thought of when the mess of the world started to unravel because to me, you are the calamity and color of the world.” A final click ended the call. The final words comforted my soul and I walked down the street under the rapidly deteriorating and fearfully raw world, their screams lifting up to meet the incoming comet.
As I drove through the storm, the swishing of the windshield wipers reverberated the rapid thoughts fluttering in my heart. “Give me a break.” I muttered as I squinted at the road as the lines slowly disappeared. “I’m just trying to buy some groceries!” The droplets pelted at the windshield, reminding me of things to do, things I haven’t done and things I’ve half-assed. I aggressively flicked on the left turn signal as a subtle F-you! to the doubts in my head. I finally pulled into the parking lot and with a rumble, the car sighed to a stop. In waves, the rain hammered at my car. The wind howled like a ghost whispering about my impending fate, yet the rain continues to pelt, Finish your work! Get out there! You’re wasting your life! And I shout back, “You ass, I don’t want to get soaking wet!”
I pushed my faithful cart down the vegetable aisle, thinking back to the time when I nearly choked and died on a long green bean. My mother told me to eat my vegetables and as a seven year old, I thought I would “rebel” against her by shoving all the green beans she made into my mouth. My logic was that the faster I ate my veggies, the less time I would have to deal with them. My plan was foiled when one strand decided to hang out in my throat. I shuddered as I headed towards the fruits, picked out a couple almost ripe apricots and picked up a couple mangos. “These would be great in a smoothie.” I said while weighing them the palm of my heads and gently squeezing them. “Or I could straight up eat them.” I wandered around the store for a little longer, passing by the many chip bags and the craft beers. “I like this brand. They put a little more granola in the cereal than that one.” the girl said, waving the cereal box in front of her boyfriend’s face. I passed by and he glanced at me and I just shrugged. “Fine. Let’s get that one.,” he said, throwing the box into the cart. I sighed and remembered when I had someone to bother. “It’s okay.” I said standing in the check out line. “I can always bug myself.” “Excuse me?” an old lady in front of me turned around and looked me up and down. “Are you okay, ma’am?” I nodded and smiled as I watch her pay and wheel her groceries away, her little grey bun bouncing up and down.
I walked out to my car and noticed that it stopped pouring. Little lakes and oceans littered the parking lot, capturing a sliver of the blooming sun in each of them. I glanced at the vibrant blue sky to see a full and beautiful rainbow. And with that, my doubts melted away and splashed into the puddles.
Outside the window, the birds happily flitted around announcing their cheer for the world to everyone who was listening. I just happened to be listening, but I wasn’t too happy that I had no choice. I stared at my blank computer screen and saw a sad reflection of myself. I wiggled my eyebrow like a mother would to entertain her child, but I felt no joy erupt from within me. I picked up my phone and checked the time even though I had a clock sitting on the shelf above me. It read 3:20pm, too early for dinner, too late for lunch. My eyes refocused from the numbers and onto the smiling face I had set as my wallpaper. Every part of her was radiating with joy that was matched with a brilliant smile. At the corners of her eyes, they crinkle with a gentle reminder that she was a woman with a story. Perhaps she was a mother or a sister or someone’s lover. I cracked a smile, but the phone’s screen shut off, brutally reminding me of my balding head, unshaven face and acne broken face. I resisted the urge to fling my phone into the wall like I did with my old phone and put it down on my stack of World War II books. My mother gave them to me every single Christmas and birthday until I stood up during one of my forced parties and announced, “I don’t read those fucking books. I don’t understand why you think I would enjoy them.” Needless to say, that was the last party and the last time I saw my mother. In fact, I see that anonymous smiling woman on my phone screen more than I see her or any other female. The last time someone came over to my place was a couple weeks after I was unofficially denounced from the family. That someone was my best friend and when I was younger, he would be the one to bring me out of my “lock-yourself-into-your-room-and-sulk” phase. When he came over, I decided that I wanted to stay in that phase, so he left. I checked up on him, through Facebook of course. He got married three years ago and another bloke was the best man even though I had agreed with him when we were twelve that I would be the one no matter what. I guess that contract was bullshit to begin with anyways. I have to admit that that was what caused me to fling my other phone into the wall. You see, I have a strict bedtime routine where I would check up on him before I fall asleep and you can piece together what happened after I was disrupted from my routine. I just went to Amazon and ordered myself a better and nicer phone and put a new girl as the wallpaper.
I looked out the window and noticed that the birds had quieted down and night had fallen before I even knew it. “Well, I must’ve been more productive than I thought I would be.” I muttered to myself before rolling into bed and pulling out my phone and checking up on my ex-best friend. He has a daughter now named Bella and yesterday he put up a video of him doing her blond curls for the first time. Her laughter echoed in my ears and for the first time, my chest erupted in joy and I burst out in laughter only to end in solitary tears. I reassured myself and whispered, “That was a good laugh. Better save that up. Don’t worry, everything will be okay.” I gently kissed the phone screen and slipped it under my pillow, closing my eyes. A single tear rolled down my cheek, bidding me good night.
I remember reading a post stating, “If Trump wins I’m going to be openly more of an asshole to ignorant sexist racist homophobic people. No more being polite to these fucking idiots. Fuck.” I frantically shouted a response, “No, please. This is when things will certainly go down. Yes, he’s terrible, but if we are going to not be polite and be assholes, then doesn’t that make us just like him?!” I still had hope not that Hilary can win because that had gone by, but that the country isn’t as bad as it revealed itself to be. Among the 21k responses this post received, I can only hope and will that at least a quarter of the people responded as I did.
In the frantic nature of people, we are quick to panic and quick to shroud ourselves to protect our most vulnerable sides. Everywhere I looked, there were open responses of hatred, cutting sharp and leaving lacerations too deep to naturally heal. When I turned around, there were open responses of love, quickly patching and sealing the cuts, the gentle and encompassing red shrouded the sticky and oozing red, the leak that was always there, but we simply ignored because it was easier.
People bravely opened up their shirts to show the world their wounds that were caused from the other night, but the stood still without swaying and opened up the dialogue to converse with them. Our pain united the states and while it did force ourselves to expose the problems, we are evident that it is here. We can’t avoid it as it stares at us in the face. In one of my classes, we expected to just be jumping into Margaret Fuller, instead my professor opened up and said, “I stayed up late last night watching the election and I’m tired. You are also tired. Before we start class, I want to open up a discussion. If there’s anything you want to talk about, we can talk about it.” We stared back at her, not entirely comfortable with this open dialogue because our wounds were still raw but I appreciated her gesture of openness. On campus, a group of students holding handmade signs with “Send hugs not hate!” and “Love Trumps hate” and “Free hugs!” stood around smiling in the bleakness. When I walked by them, I smiled comfortably and felt myself stand up straighter.
My roommate and I hang onto the hope that because Trump is under so many watchful eyes, he wouldn’t do anything as reckless as he promised. We told each other about the small lights that we witnessed and we gave a small sigh of relief. People were shouting red, but for the right reasons.