Meeting People

Aj Maiorana, 3.24am May 10th 2021

After the stars disappeared and the night sky turned red, I thought about Sister Wecht. When our seventh-grade class had asked about the end of the world, her response felt less religious than what we were used to. “The end of the world is unique to each of us.” the librarian told us “when I die, that will be the end of my world.” I’ve met a lot of people who think the same way since, but for some reason, I thought of her. I wondered if she still felt the same way, now that the world was ending.

 

I came across a priest, prostrated in the remains of his church, and asked him what the devout had done. “We prayed,” he said, “until we were no more, we prayed.” Members of the church had gathered under the blanket of darkness and knelt before their altar. They spoke to their god, to themselves, not knowing how far their voices might reach. They trailed off one by one, swallowed by sin or salvation. When he realized his voice was the last, he decided to pray silently instead. I said a short prayer with him before I left. Another disappearing voice.

 

I met a man who pushed a cart along the empty supermarket aisles. When one was blocked by chunks of fallen ceiling or toppled shelves he would sigh and continue on. I walked with him, helping inspect cans of soup and vegetables. When his cart was full, he walked through the self-checkout and instead of leaving, tried to scan each item. I asked him why. “This can’t last forever,” he said, “when it all goes back to normal, I don’t wanna worry about the little things I did.” I left him there, trying to feed bills to the broken machine.

 

I stayed with a woman who made an encampment on the roof of a warehouse. She had seen the end the same way that I had. “The stars receded like the ocean before a tsunami,” she said, “they went dark, and then, they rushed to earth, suddenly, violently.” We laid on the roof staring up into the emptiness. I listened to her breathing until I fell asleep. When she disappeared, I waited two days for her to come back. People rarely come back now. I left her a note, told her I was going North. I’ll hope she finds it.

 

Sister Wecht had left the school during our eighth-grade year. We had pestered her for answers to The Metamorphosis. The nuns weren’t interested in answers that didn’t vaguely pass the buck to god. We asked them where she had gone but they turned us away. “Sometimes,” she explained, “things change, and there is no use questioning why. Whether there is a reason or not, it doesn’t matter. You have to move forward.” There were whispers that she had abandoned the church. Rumors that she had changed overnight, turned to a beetle and scurried away. Eventually, we all just moved on