Girls Prepare for the Apocalypse
When the apocalypse comes, we will pile our minds heavy with vine-ripe tomatoes, late-night text conversations with the boy who plays second-chair clarinet, and the cool weight of a pearl necklace against our collarbones. We will pile our minds heavy with wet football bleachers, ballet shoes, the bone-like curve of the X-box controller, and the sandpaper-rough tongue of Fluffy, so that when our homes are overrun with flood waters, or zombies, or a flesh-eating virus, we will be able to leave these things behind.
When the apocalypse comes, we will not be afraid.
We will have our pepper spray, our parents’ car keys that can double as knives, and our Zippo lighters.
If it’s apocalypse by flood, we will learn to fish with nothing but shoe strings and a wad of gum. If it’s apocalypse by zombie, we will lock ourselves in the basement and be grateful our mothers kept canned foods in the cool, shelved corners. If it’s apocalypse by virus, we will run to the woods, to the mountain peaks we saw every morning on the horizon beyond our town but never thought to climb.
When the apocalypse comes, we will realize what a relief it is to give up our pre-apocalypse goals. Once the apocalypse is here, it won’t matter that we didn’t get asked to slow dance at prom, or that we never retook the SATs. It won’t matter that we’re still waiting for an acceptance letter from Brown (and also from our back-up school). We’ll find comfort in the easy, obvious goals of survival: ensnare that fish, kill that zombie, find clean water.
We’ll realize that the dangers of the apocalypse are not so different from the dangers of our old lives. We were raised to avoid alleyways, to see every man as a potential threat, to walk carefully at night in groups of three or more, to see death around every corner.
When the apocalypse comes, we’ll stay with our families as long as we can, but we know it won’t last. We know we’ll lose them in a late-night zombie raid, or to a great white wave, or maybe we’ll just go separate ways when we reach the interstate.
We’ll forget our families, we’ll forget our crushes, we’ll forget our boyfriends. We’ll remember the strange things. We’ll remember how we borrowed our boyfriends’ socks in the winter, how they slid down our ankles. We’ll remember Girl Scout cookies crushed on tongues, hemp lanyards, and hand-sewn tote bags. We will remember how many things we used to make with our hands, but we won’t remember when we stop remembering.
When the apocalypse comes, we’ll feel prepared in a way we’ve never felt before.
Dana Diehl graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Passages North, Swarm, Booth, and elsewhere. She lives and works in Tucson, Arizona.
Photo by Jared eberhardt