This is my piece for the Indie Ink writing challenge. The way it works is that you sign up for the challenge weekly, and you'll be paired with another participant who will create a writing prompt for you, and you have a few days to write and submit your piece. (Click HERE if you'd like to participate next week.
This week, I challenged Christy ofThe Colour of Four with the prompt, "Why do you sneak out of the house at night?"
I was challenged by D. R. Rux He told me to write about, It's December 20th, 2012. Your children are scared for their lives and the lives of their friends. How do you handle the situation of the apocalyptic nature of the Mayan calendar?
"Are we all going to die and go into outer space?" Marian asked me.
"What?" I said. "Why did you say that? Of course we aren't."
"Someone at the workshop said that it's the end of the world," she said.
I was standing at the kitchen counter, cutting onions for a broth. The hairs on my arms stood on end at the mention of her workshop. The workshop was a new low. I tried having her hospitalized temporarily, but she didn't get better during any of her stays. I tried having her admitted to a ward, but she came home so angry at me, I thought I'd lost her forever. The workshop was a place where she could go every afternoon, with other young people like her, and they made things with their hands. They put together fasteners or elaborate paperclips or something. It kept them busy, and also allowed them to make their own money, under constant, palpable surveillance, of course.
"It's nonsense," I said. "How would this person be privy to knowledge about when the world is going to end while the rest of us have been left in the dark?"
"He's a genius," she snapped at me.
"Of course he is, darling," I said and transferred the onion slivers to a boiling pot.
"You never believe me about anything," she said.
How could I believe her? She lied to me, to the authorities, to everyone about what my husband had done. She only wanted me to divorce him, to kick him out of his own house. It was payback for losing his job and forcing us to relocate inland.
She had a boyfriend on the lake. We were barely aware of his existence until we moved away and suddenly, she was threatening to kill herself, or us, if we wouldn't change our minds and stay where we were. She claimed she belonged there. Her love was made of water, she told me. It grew by the light of an unencumbered moon. Now we lived alone. Her stepfather served a short prison sentence and refused to speak to me after he'd been released. He was scared of her.
"I mean it," she said. "I'm really terrified, actually. He told me--"
"Who?" I asked. "Who told you all of this?"
"He's a pyromaniac," she said. "He has eyes so light blue they're almost see-through. He knows a lot of things because his parents were archaeologists."
"What are they doing here?" I asked. A tiny college town in western Pennsylvania hardly seemed like a place for a pair of highly knowledgeable archaeologists.
"His parents?" she asked. "They're dead, okay? He lives with his grandmother."
"What did he burn down?" I said, being careful not to look at her. I moved on to the carrots and basil.
"Everything, alright?" she yelled. "He fucking burned everything down and that's not even the point!"
I placed both of my hands on the cool counter top and stared at the patterns in the polished granite. I feared that any quick movements would set her off. "What is the point, honey?" I asked.
"He knows, mom," she said. "He does. He knows things. Why won't you listen to me?" Her voice had a frantic edge. I wasn't prepared for a fight, right now. I just wanted to make dinner in peace.
"Mom?" she said. "You have to believe me. I wouldn't lie to you anymore. I said I wouldn't."
It didn't matter. She lied the one time that destroyed everything. Since then, I could barely stand to be in the same room with her.
"I'm scared," she said. "I really am. There's an ancient calender. The Mayans made it, and they read it in the stars. They were brilliant mathematicians and astronomers. They said that the world is going to end in three days, on 12-20-12. See? That date is fucked up, right? 12-20-12?"
"The world isn't going to end," I said softly, still watching my hands on the counter top. "Just shut up before you make me insane."
"I love him, mom," she said. "I wish you would listen to me."
"You don't love him!" I screamed. She was frozen, watching me with her dark eyes. "He's some crazy teenager who sets things on fire. He's criminally insane, he's a liar and he doesn't know anything about the Mayan calender!"
"Fuck you," she said. "He does. He has a book about it and he showed it to me."
"The calender has come to an end before!" I yelled, staring at her fully, now. "What about that? It's not the end of the world. It's the end of the stupid calender. All it means is that the numbers that they used to count the days and years is being reset to zero."
She picked up a glass then, and threw it at the wall. Diamond shards littered the tile of the kitchen floor.
"Clean it up," I told her. "It's not the end of the world. All of this has happened before."