The beauty of this is that we saw it coming: waking up in the morning to reports that the other side of the world has gone black—that the future is here but we can only see where it is not; cloaked in past, all of the lights out. This is worse than we could ever imagine: we imagine glamour, panic in the streets, our neighbors huddled together after my father cuts down the dead apple tree in the front yard (it has since blown down in a storm) and sets it on fire to warm our hands. It is the future now: houses that we have not yet lived in, places that we have never been to—we announce our arrival shining like a mirror ball, we reflect any light that is left. There will be testimonies: shouts of never, of how there are a thousand and one ways to hurt you and I will list them here. The first is to crush your head with my knee. The second is to arch your back until your ribs stretch out like gates rusted in the rain. The third is to crack your skull against my shin—to turn myself into a table that jumps up to meet you: a table with no bread or wine or god or salt. I will spare you the others, but I will tell you a story. Where I am from, we eat twelve grapes at midnight—sometimes green, sometimes purple. I used to shove them all into my mouth and chew: the acid of the skins sticking to my tongue, the coldness sneaking into my nostrils. It was for good luck for the year ahead, my grandmother would say, as if luck had anything to do with any of this, although it is dark and you are cold like the pulp of grapes. The key is to eat them one at a time: to be patient, to count the threes the fours the fives before the clock strikes again, that it is time for us to ignore the lions at the gate. Are you not dazzled? Are you not impressed with how the seconds get crushed to sweetness? Today, the numbers reset to zeroes, no code to break, no cipher, nothing more than the cascading of nothing larger than one—the end of glamour, the end of the world as we know it. Today, we chew in the dark and do not swallow: that this is the end of grapes, that no one will take the time to harvest them, to pluck them from branches in bunches and slip into plastic bags with holes in them—presumably to help them breathe. Tomorrow, stores will be empty: heels of bread face down in dark aisles, jars of jelly smashed open. The walls of this city will not hold us safely in their arms: if these walls could talk they would say nothing before they turned to fragments. Hope resides in a return: to normalcy, to simple transactions at diners, to a white light that will save us from rawness.
And then the lights flicker: downrushing this house with something we thought we would never see again, our grief disappearing with a glow.
And then nervous laughter, a kiss on the cheek, the swallowing of pulp, the decision to stay awake or to sleep dictated by the banging of pots and pans outside.
Later, I whisper to you. Later, after we shut the door and turn off the lights, I whisper that when the world ends I do not want to be here—I want you to lose me to the earth earlier than when the earth is lost. Here is something you should never think about: do not think about our children, and the color of their eyes. Do not think of their end, their children’s end. Do not think of them pushing buttons in their sleek cars in garages we will never see. Do not picture them inhaling the smoke until they are sprawled in shapes on the floor. Do not imagine the world without them. Do not picture the world continuing, their blood and our blood tamed by the rising end.