“Aftermath” by R.E.M. from Around the Sun
I didn’t leave the kitchen table for days after that. I know that sounds like an overstatement and I am sure it is, but that’s honestly how I can remember it. Sitting in stunned silence, drinking cooling but not yet cold coffee, staring out the window, willing myself not to turn on the radio or TV or look on the internet.
At first, it was just about waiting for the end to come. A race of monstrous humanoids pouring out of the Earth? That took down London in an hour, leaving no survivors? More hordes spotted in San Antonio, Toronto, Tokyo? New Delhi? It seemed inevitable that the human race would be wiped out in a matter of days.
But somehow that didn’t happen. Somehow, humanity found a way and trounced the beasts, eliminating them in shockingly quick order. From the depths of despair to the heights of elation, the human race rode a wave of emotions.
But for me, I was left behind. At that table. Thinking about him. His last moments. I hoped it was fast, I feared it was not. I hoped he was with people in the end. I imagined them all going quiet together, closing their eyes, linking arms, and letting the creatures destroy them in one fell swoop. I have no idea if that’s how my husband went. I suspect I never will. But I like the idea of it, him leading one last meditation circle.
So for days, I sat. First, convinced I would die. Then guilt ridden and overwhelmed that I had not.
Eventually, they came. The Well Wisher Brigade. The “We’re Praying for You” Squad. The “Remember, He’d Want You to be Happy” Dancers. I moved for them. I showered, shaved my body, put on deodorant and nice clothes. But god did I hate them. Their platitudes. Their nonsense. Their attempts to indoctrinate me into their worldview in the name of limiting my distress. I hated them, but at least they got me off that chair, away from that table.
I weighed myself last night. 15 pounds lost. I am sure a month ago me would be thrilled. Today me shrugged and yes, fretted a bit. Fifteen pounds was more than I thought. Fifteen pounds looked like malnourishment on me, not like a sexy new size like I imagined before all this happened.
I slept last night too. Through the night, for the first time, since. It didn’t feel good, per se, but it felt better. It felt a little more like being human.
I might go outside tomorrow. The hot meals and such that the people have brought me are starting to run out and I think it seems like an early spring might be upon. So I think I might go outside, take a walk to the store, and buy some bread, some eggs, a two liter of Dr. Pepper, some OJ, some apples, and a bunch of broccoli. Oh and cheese too. Spend a few times eating omlettes in the morning, and microwave popcorn chased with Dr. Pepper the rest of the day. A choice he’d have made, a choice he’d have loved.
Christ. Who can say?