Wait! Start at the beginning with Parts I - IV here.
The Beauty of a Sno-Cone Stand
My step-father hated me, but he believed me about the end of the world thing. He said so one morning over breakfast.
I was surprised at his admission and said so, to which he replied, “I always take apocalyptic threats seriously.” Over this, we shared a laugh.
I looked up apocalyptic later that day and learned that it was something related to the Bible and what was called the Apocalypse, which was really just a fancy way of saying the end of the world. This made me proud, because I figured that God was on my side and believed me, too.
I took my new knowledge and showed it off to Zacariah along with my new pair of red patent leather shoes, which really weren’t patent leather at all but cheap red plastic. They matched the end of the world x’s. Zacariah was impressed with neither my knowledge nor my shoes.
“Everybody knows what apocalyptic means, stupid.” He was sitting by Nick Harris, who was trying his best to sneer me into oblivion.
I squinted head-doctor style. “I thought you were my friend, Zacariah. Don’t you like my new shoes?” I tried for a modeling stance but only managed to trip over my too-big feet. Zacariah and Nick Harris shared a laughed, which was when I realized that the home room crew had gotten to Zacariah. They’d offered him the safety, security, notice of being one of them. In exchange, he’d offered them up the end of our friendship.
The world would end in six days, and suddenly, kissing Nick Harris didn’t seem so important. And after I put my calendar back on the wall, I found that my focus was back on track.
Three days before the world would end, my stepfather took me to church with him. He slicked down his greasy black hair and made me wear a dress and brush my teeth and off we went to The Assembly of God. It was the first time he’d ever invited me to go with him, and I felt strangely privileged.
I found that I was very impressed with the members of my stepfather’s church; they seemed to believe what I was saying about the world ending. I said so to a lady with hair as white as the marshmallows Mom puts on top of her pink salad. The lady just laughed. “No, honey, we just believe that you have the spirit of the Lord inside you.”
That sounded nice, so I tucked it away in my mind for later. Maybe that would be one of the things I would write about for the future. Plus, I liked to think about the spirit of the Lord being inside me; it made me feel not so alone.
On the way home from The Assembly of God, my stepfather smiled at me. This was quite an event, because I could not remember an occasion when he’d ever smiled at me before. I quickly realized, though, that all smiles weren’t all about kindness and laughter.
I should’ve known better.
My stepfather’s smile seemed to be immediately swallowed up by his familiar nastiness. I guess some people like my stepfather, my homeroom class, and now Zacariah just couldn’t help but be mean. Maybe if they had the spirit of the Lord in them that meanness would just go away. I reasoned that when the world ended all the meanness would disappear like a giant magic trick.
I focused in on the scar just above my stepfather’s lip and listened carefully to the words that began coming out of his mouth, and though he kept his eyes trained on the road, I could still feel their force pushing down on me. “Did you hear them back there?” He asked me, sarcasm dripping from his voice and burning me like the hot wax from a candle, which was so pretty and shiny and easy to reach out and touch. “They said you had the Spirit inside you. You fooled them real good, didn’t you? Been fooling everyone with your talk of the end of the world. Even me, I’ll admit it. But when I really thought about it, I decided you were just out for a little attention. Well, you got it this morning, so I don’t want to hear anything else about the end of the world from you, okay?”
“Okay.” Sometimes it’s easier to tell people what they want to hear.
January 11th was a sunny, surprisingly warm day, which I thought was very fitting for the day before the day the world would end. I didn’t dare mention this to anyone, but I wrote it down in the journal I’d begun keeping for the people that might still be around when the world ended.
Even though no one talked about the end of the world, I could tell they were starting to get nervous. Mom kept looking at me anxiously all morning over breakfast, and the kids at school were more standoffish than usual.
I didn’t let any of this bother me; when the world ended, none of it would matter anyway.
On the day that world was supposed to end, it didn’t. I waited around all day, knowing that at any moment everything would just be gone, and we could all start over someplace new. But it never happened.
For a twelve-year old girl who didn’t have much to look forward to, I was brutally disappointed.
Before I went to bed on the day the world didn’t end, I took down my calendar with it’s bleeding x’s and tiny red circle and stuffed it into the small pink trash can that stood beside my bedroom door.
My Mom came into the room a few minutes after that. I was sitting on my bed, studying the picture of the Sno-Cone stand. She said, “Well, I guess the world didn’t end.”
She stepped closer to my bed, but I kept my eyes trained on the picture; if I squinted, I could make out the colorful bottles of syrup-flavoring lining the shelves behind the counter of the Sno-Cone stand. And my Mom asked, “Are you disappointed?”
I shrugged, zeroed in on a bottle of what I thought was grape syrup, and said, “A little, I guess, but I figure there’s always next year.”
When I was twelve-years old, I still believed in Santa Claus. I even believed that I had seen him once on a cloudy October morning walking through the aisles of the local Super Mart with a forlorn expression and two six-packs of light beer. I smiled at him, but he ignored me and just kept right on going down the aisle, one six-pack tucked under each flabby arm.
I tell you this so that you understand the level of optimism and idealism that I’d maintained into my twelfth year. The world not ending didn’t deplete that optimism and idealism, and so on the day after the day the world was supposed to end, I decided that the new end of the world would be on a Friday in July. I even bought a new calendar; this one had colorful abstract photographs with faux-inspirational quotations by people like Winston Churchill and Ben Franklin, people who’d been dead so long that their formerly aesthetic and insightful language had taken on a decidedly unaesthetic and un-insightful gleam, but quite honestly, I wasn’t looking for inspiration from my new calendar. I was just looking for a place to record my hope with a red permanent marker, crossing off the uneventful days of my youth and anticipating a chance to start over.
Thanks so much for reading my attempt at fiction. I appreciate your kind comments and encouragement on the first half of the story :)