"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May Be Not

(Harold Egbert Camping is a Christian radio broadcaster and president of Family Radio, a California-based religious broadcasting network that spans more than 150 outlets in the United States as well as a website. He has used mathematical predictions applied to the Bible to predict dates for the end of the world. His current end times prediction is May 21, 2011. He had previously predicted that the end would occur in September 1994. It did not. His followers are legion.)

Her petticoat scratched sharply at her skin, and the intimate place where her thighs met was slippery with sweat. She shifted, wishing to billow her skirt…circulate air…but her hands were firmly held on either side by the clammy suction of kin.  A catch in her breath was the only indication she mourned the wind. Eighteen years had passed since the last prophecy. They had been three children shy back then, but the fear on the face of their oldest was forever etched, and echoing now in older lines. Frightened, yes...but something else rode his features and burrowed beneath the surface of a chin, freshly shaved not so long ago. It had been 23 hours since The Preparation, and Matthew now looked haggard and nervous. She could not know his fear was not of doom.

Her husband sat stoic, eyes closed, with determined lashes twitching away the seconds. He had bought into the necrosis willingly and raised his children according to their pre-determined end.  He believed.  He was alone in it.  A loaf of bread sat next to an idle pitcher on the buffet, half filled with the color of sacrament and the taste of strawberries. The only sound in the room was the scuff-ting-thump of Ruthie's little feet bumping her chair legs in time with the clock. Questions hung as silent apparitions, dusty in the closet of their keeping. Doors threatened to pop with tension and even the chairs beneath them felt the unease of something about to go more horribly wrong than any End Of The World might be.

The only light in the room was the bright spots of the news vans...chomping at their microphones in hope of failure. Should tomorrow come, their humiliation would be the menu of all future meals...until the public forgot...and if she recalled correctly, public memory was long. She would not endure such ridicule again. As the clock struck midnight, on what was resignedly not the end and crested into the full moon of just another day, she squeezed the hands beside her and released them. "One last communion. We've twelve bells and this is how we shall commemorate the last."

All six of them reached for the glasses she had poured and grabbed a torn piece of bread. "Drink! Drink!" she encouraged as cups met lips, leaving a stain of tragedy like a mocker's grin. She gulped greedily, watching the adams apple of her husband as he also drank. His eyes closed, his faith unwavering, he did not question the cramp that shot through his gut at the stroke of midnight. She doubled over, surprised at the severity of it, the suddenness with which it threatened to take her. Raising up, she sought her children with one grimaced eye, as they bore the condition of their father's blind faith. What she saw was...unexpected. She shook her head against the blurry vision of Matthew and the rest of the children calmly putting their drinks down side by side.

It was then she noticed their glasses were full.

Matthew 24:36 “No one knows the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”


  1. Yes, that was unexpected! A very well-written piece, Annie - may I call you Annie?

    I don't know if it's funny or sad that there are people out there who will be very disappointed when - or should I say if :) - Sunday rolls around. It's certainly interesting, from a psychological point of view. One has to wonder: will there be suicides among the true-believers? No, I've made up my mind: it's definitely sad.

  2. Annie, this is an outstanding story. It is short, sad, and ultimately sweet, it is perfect! You, my friend, are indeed a wonderful writer.

  3. Oh wow! I am so impressed that you took this threat, or prediction, or whatever you want to call it, and made is useful via a short story. Well done!

  4. Andreas - Annie is just fine! This morning I was getting dressed and I remembered THIS was THAT day. And it struck me as desperately sad that there are people who will think about it every second of today. I will forget. I have two parties to attend...celebrations...graduation and birthday. It is fitting I think, to be celebrating against this prediction, but I feel for those who have put their faith in Mr. Camping, only to have it crushed.

    Marty - Thank you! I like that Matthew stood up against the craziness. I liked knowing his agenda whispering in the background like the breeze his mother mourned. I've started reading your chapter. I still hate Medea :)

    Liza - I've only the patience for short stories...or at least that's what I tell myself. I would rather write someone else's story. But occasionally I come up with an idea via something like this. Thank you!

  5. AnonymousMay 21, 2011

    Uhhhh....Hello Jim Jones, good to see ya. All one has to do is be prepared to go. ;)

  6. I'm ready no matter what the day. If it's today, then yeeee-haaaaawwwww, let's RIDE!!!


  7. There will be some people who's world will end today... but that's the Nature of Life anyway.

    I have always been amazed at the suicide cults.

    This is very good, Annie... thank you!


  8. the color of sacraments and the taste of strawberries was sweet.

  9. Nice writing, it flows very smoothly ... I'm glad the kids got out alive.

    Well, the rapture has come and gone here ... but it's not finished in the US yet. I think the time was to be about 6:00 PM or so ... ;)

  10. Enjoyed the post. I had been ignoring much of this, hearing bits and pieces about the craziness, trying to sneak in as so many things try to do. I can only shake my head at what some let themselves believe.

  11. Travis - Hey Ripley...believe it or not, we're still here!

    Marion - Me too. Just a smidge disappointed :)

    Shoes - Has there been a biography written of one (unauthorized of course)? But I wounder if anyone has gotten inside the mind of these types of cults. Interesting.

    Ed - Kool-aid. Gotta love it.

    Matt D - It's just wrong to pull kids where the adult mindset can go. They need to make up their own minds about these kinds of things. It was a beautiful evening for the non end of the world! Soft breeze, perfect temperature, not a cloud in the sky.

    Anthony - I don't read the paper or watch the news, but there have been these huge billboards all over town. Anyone who drives could not avoid this prediction. And I really, REALLY, wonder what the followers are doing today. Some of them gave their life savings to this cult to advertise the end. Now what?

  12. His followers are legion or his followers are Legion? Of course his followers are simply lost, but I couldn't help note the word play. Very SAD.

  13. I have to assume that this is fiction. ;) I sometimes wonder about the reality of your site and can't always tell the difference between fac-n-fic.

    I'll comment on the writing, though. Your use of analogies is notable. There is a distinct lack of "like" analogies, which are abused by writers, if you ask. I try to keep them to no more than one "like" every page or three. "Questions hung as..." rather than like. The doors weren't acting "like they would pop" -- they were stressed and about to pop from the tension.

    To your avid avoidance of "like" constructs I bow and applaud.

    I like that.

    - Eric

  14. Amy - So sad to be so lost whilst trying to be found!

    Eric - LOL. Fiction. And thank you. Perhaps I will (for the sake of you and others) tag my posts as one or the other. I try to vary my approach to analogies but don't know of that many. I's got no schoolin' in it :)


Thank you for listening.