I looked at you with a smile It was a crooked kind of smile I waited... And waited... Waited some more.... But there was no crooked smile back Not even a tiny one So I just awkwardly walked away And I'm assuming you did too
Remember that hike? Where the three of us stood at the bottom Of a beaten path That was nicely laid out With stones and markers? Remember how we all laughed At the prospect of taking the easy way out, And took a path invisible to all others? A path hidden by Plants, Jagged rock faces, And lack of markers. If you fell, You’d have a bed of Vermont green to cradle you. Remember how when we screamed? We screamed loud enough To put Peter Pan and his lost boys to shame. Then we finally got to the top of that mountain, Where we saw a bird's eye view of a sea of trees - That, I do not need to ask if you remember. Remember that hike? We should do that again.
Staring her in the face seemed to be the truth, The belated and undeniable truth. Now don’t get me wrong, I love it I do The instant burn and flash in a loop. Though it can get old and tired and bored, The same thing over and over, the same old chord. Though when she stares me right in the face, I don't even flinch, no, I don't even pace. And she says ‘you needn't have fear’ I believe her, and invite her just a little bit near. And when she pricks me with her little needle It melts away, the chapel, the steeple. ‘The laughter’ she says, ‘Is it music to your ears?’ I just shake my head and say ‘no, not for years’ She takes my hand and says ‘I know where you fit!’ So she takes me there, im not scared, not one little bit. ‘The singing,’ she says, ‘Does it make you love spring.’
It wasn't much more than a quarter mile, so we decided not to drive, instead we raced like children. She slapped me on the shoulder and took off running. The words "tag you're it" rang through the air. So I chased after her across the meadow that lay between our current position and our grandmother's old house. As the game of tag progressed, we ran in loops and circles in order to catch and avoid eachother, making the trip to the cottage much longer than if we had just walked. But it was worth it, to be a child with my sister again.
We have walked along the same path our entire life. Its always been straight with no twists or turns. Never once have we had to choose which way to go, there was never another way. Then the day came. A fork in the road. One veers left into the forest, while the other bears right leading to a city. We look at each other, unsure of what to do. Thinking we always knew how to stay together we nod and begin to walk. I walk towards the right and my hand is yanked back. I look over my shoulder and realise that my compainon is pulling towards the woods, not the city. There is a sudden lurch in my heart. We do not want to walk the same path. I yearn to go to the bright lights and bustle of the city, while my friend wants to stay in the calmness and security of the forest. We debate for hours, but to avail.
(Illustration credit: Ava Kendrick, Waitsfield, VT)
The front porch, where Aunt June would greet us as we tumbled out of the old Subaru into the dry dust of her winding, country driveway. She would be sitting in her Adirondack chair drinking an iced tea and wearing her pink straw hat. It was always summer when we visited, always that squinty, humid kind of hot that only a popsicle and a kiddie pool could cure. Aunt June had both.
The kitchen, painted the same shade of blue as Cinderella's ball gown. Aunt June would tell me to fetch her some ice cubes for her tea and I would stand in front of the freezer with the door open, letting the cold air roll over my scrawny frame. There was no air conditioning in that old house. Aunt June always said the heat kept her joints from getting too rusty. Eventually I'd hear her call from the porch, "Anita, what's taking so long?" and I'd yell back, "Coming!" as I'd scramble to fill a glass with ice cubes. I'd pop one in my own mouth and crunch down, making my teeth ache, a price I was willing to pay to briefly escape the heat.
Apocalypses don't come smashing down from the heavens, destryoing civilization in one easy wave of fire and sending everybody into a frantic scramble to survive twisted political ideals and stay alive. They don't steamroll over people's lives, destroying political and social concepts all at once. They don't dry the Earth up all in one giant cloud of dusty red smoke, leaving us on a Martian desert land full of prehistoric beasts. Apocalypses don't scream their intentions as they slam down onto our heads, and they don't wipe out live as we knew it, not noticeably, anyway.
No, I think that in real life apocalypses arrive so subtly that people don't always realize they're there. One simple, reasonable step after another until it's too late. We go on and continue our regular lives,
Long beyond the swollen, commanding flow of the Mississippi, in the far, unknown west, lies the quaint and hopelessly secluded town of Driftwood Springs, Wyoming.
Not much has changed since my departure, which may as well have been a lifetime ago. Orange-haired Margot waits at the Wild Cactus Diner for me; sitting behind the wheel of Dad’s once-scarlet ’72 Chevy. Waitress apron still on, her shift must have just ended. She grins, cigarette between lips, as I kiss her cheek and whisper, “Hello, little sis.”
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