Author's Note: This is the first four parts of a short story that was published in a local magazine called West Georgia Living. Thought I'd share it with those of you who may not have seen it. I'm weird about sharing my fiction and poetry, so this is making me incredibly nervous. Didn't want to post the entire thing in one post lest I bore you. :) Thanks for reading!
The Beauty of a Sno-Cone Stand
When I was twelve-years old, I read about the end of the world and hoped I’d be there. It seemed like as good a place as any to be to a twelve-year old girl who didn’t have much to look forward to. So I looked forward, ignoring the stark and pale-under-florescent-light reality of my present, and began to plan.
I spent that first week making key decisions.
With the entire store of logic in my underdeveloped, underutilized, adolescent brain, I reasoned that the end of the world might as well be on a Wednesday afternoon, so I decided on one in January. When I informed my best friend Zacariah of this first decision, he approved and agreed that January was the worst month of the year because of all the snow and the fact that people broke a lot of promises because of the whole resolution thing.
I resolved that the end of the world would happen before people could break those resolutions. My last gift to everyone.
I started marking the days off my calendar in anticipation.
When my Mom would come into my room late at night to turn off my light, remove the book from my faux-sleeping chest, which I’d learned to make rise and fall in a perfect mimicry of real sleep, I’d watch her out of the miniscule slit in my eyes as she would look and sigh over the calendar on my wall with its red x’s counting down the days.
The first time she did this was on October 22; at first she only gave the calendar a cursory glance, but I guess she noticed the bleeding x’s, because she stepped closer to it and then began flipping ahead through the months. She’d always told me that looking towards the future on a calendar was bad luck, but I didn’t say anything in my pretend-sleep state.
When she made it to December, she stopped and puzzled over what I’d always called the baby calendar at the bottom of the page. In the same red ink as the x’s, she saw the tiny circle around the 12th day of January.
The next day at the breakfast table, as I pushed around the little o’s of cereal that I thought matched the x’s on my calendar perfectly, she asked me what was supposed to happen on the 12th of January. I calmly informed her that it was the day the world would end. She just laughed, and then turned from her dishwashing at the sink to study me. She said, “the end of the world, huh?”
And I nodded sagely and shoveled in more sugar-coated black holes.
When November rolled around, I began making a list of the things I would do on the day the world would end.
I’d tell my step-father just how I really felt about him. I’d tell him how his beer gut was the grossest thing on the planet as far as I was concerned and that I’d rather touch a slug than have to look at it all the time, so to please put on a shirt at least sometimes.
I’d announce to my entire homeroom class how I hated the way they avoided me every morning, like I smelled bad or something. I’d inform them, with just a hint of superiority, that I did not smell bad and that I knew that for a fact because I took a shower every day. And if they were avoiding me for a different reason, then they’d just have to tell me because the world was going to end anyway.
I’d take a picture of that Sno-Cone stand out by the new Wal-Mart that was closed for the winter. I thought that’d comfort me through all the horror and death and all, and people just don’t appreciate the beauty of a Sno-Cone stand.
I’d write a few things down of interest just in case anyone’s left or in case anyone ever returns, so they’ll have reading material and maybe won’t get too bored. Whatever I wrote would include the word segue, just because I found that I liked it.
I’d finally get up the nerve to kiss Nick Harris, full on the mouth. It would be my first kiss and his last.
The kiss with Nick became the only thing that mattered to me on my list. I even began to look forward to that kiss more than I was looking forward to the end of the world. That happens sometimes. We lose sight of what we really want in favor of the things we think we want. I thought I wanted that kiss from Nick more than I wanted anything in the world or, what would be, the un-world.
On December 14, as we pushed our loaded cart throught the Wal-Mart parking lot, Mom caught me taking a picture of the Sno-Cone stand with my step-father’s old Polaroid camera. She paled under the sickly glow of the winter sky and announced that it was time that I visited what she called a head-doctor. The appointment was made with a head-doctor by the name of Earnest Jones for December 23, Christmas-Eve-Eve, at 4:15 pm. That day I pouted all the way to his office and continued pouting during the session, though I don’t think I did a very good job of it because neither Mom nor Dr. Earnest Jones, head-doctor PhD, seemed to notice.
Like faux-sleeping, I was really good at faux-speaking. It was easier than you could imagine telling Dr. Earnest Jones, head-doctor PhD, just what he wanted to hear. He pretty much fed my lines to me.
I gobbled up words like depressed, lonely, purposeless, hormonal, neglected, adolescence, notice, and vacant, chewed thoughtfully, and spat them back out in an advanced form of faux-speak that even I hadn’t been aware I could produce.
The head-doctor seemed to be impressed with my faux-speak, too, because he kept nodding and grunting, squinting his dark-circled eyes in a way that was intended to make me believe he was really listening. On the day the world would end, Dr. Earnest Jones, head-doctor PhD, would regret never listening to the truth behind his patients’ faux-speak.
Before we left his office, the three of us mutually decided that I was just a lonely kid looking for a little attention in the wrong place. When we got home, Mom took down my calendar and, with that same squinty look the head-doctor used, sternly said to me, “the world will not end on January 12.”
As if saying it aloud would make it true.
To be continued...Read the ending here.