By Gregory HischakIt was the last day on earth and rather than the general panic that we had been taught to expect everybody all across the planet got up early, put on comfortable clothes and went to business in their kitchens. By eight o’clock the whole planet smelled of nice things to eat.
There was of course Little Debbies and Entenmann’s, Baklava and Lady Fingers. As far as the eye can see it was glass casserole dishes and paper plates stacked with powdered delicacies. There were brownies both from mix and scratch. The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the word were there. Sporadically mobs congregated around the sugar crepes, the keylime pie, the peanut butter rice krispies treats, the caramel banana freezer pops, the Eskimo pies and mazurka tables. There were three hundred types of apple pie and they were all excellent. There was free coffee and there was half-and-half.
No one ever said it would be like this. It would come in sheets of fire we were told. It was supposed to trumpet from the plains of Megiddo. It was to be harsh judgement and it would hurt. Maybe everybody who predicted it was wrong, or were themselves victims of hasty translations, but this was what the end of the world was like: The sky did not turn red with signs and portents. The cities did not tumble, the cemeteries were still, the seas were calm and the sun did not appear any closer nor any further away, in fact it seemed in every way to be a really nice day.
But upon waking up that Wednesday everybody knew, quietly and collectively, that it was the last Wednesday, so nobody went to work. It would be the humpday to end all humpdays, though sadly, nobody stripped and fornicated with abandon like we were told people would. But then nobody did interpretive dances either. Folksingers kept a low profile. Poets weren’t feeling particularly introspective. Nobody appeared to be drunk or apologetic or glum because it just didn’t seem all that necessary and nobody said I told You so.
It was nice in that everything was done and everything had been decided for you, and except for the after, nothing remained that warranted worry.
It was the last day on earth and rather than the general panic that we had been taught to expect everybody all across the planet got up early, put on comfortable clothes and went to business in their kitchens. By eight o’clock the whole planet smelled of nice things to eat.
By noon everybody had assembled along streets and fields with covered dishes and coffee urns. In mall parking lots and windy Asian steppes, in shady little groves along the Serengetti and across frozen tundra, folding tables wrapped in white paper sprang up because it was Wednesday and it was to be the End of the World Bake Sale.
Actually, it would prove not to be a sale at all. Very quickly the whole concept of monetary exchange seemed ludicrous and in fact a general baked goods give away began. After all there would be no opportunities to sell day-olds, no time to reinvest profits, but still it would be called the end of the world bake sale and everybody let it go at that.
The end of the world bake sale enjoyed nearly 100% attendance. Nearly everybody was there except for a handful of Jehova’s Witnesses who stayed inside in their bathrobes. Eventually even they succumbed to the irresistible aroma of chocolate cake.
Nobody was at Kinko’s, no gunmen were mowing down subway riders, in fact the subways were empty except for folks trying to get up to the big bake sale uptown. There wasn’t anybody on the net. People who usually were seen conversing with newspaper boxes were attendant and quite animated. They stood around slapping everybody on the back and handing out pecan sandies from a bag.
It was the end of the world and conversation was thick and furious. Everybody had powdered sugar lips and crumbs on their chins. Everybody laughed about how there would not be enough time to get to the loukamathes and honey, or the sticky rice balls or dried pineapple scones. To the Creme Brulee or the raspberry flan, caramel tortes and biscochitos with white cocoa icing, to the thick slabs of warm banana bread there would be no time.
In fact the only regrets voiced by the vast majority of the people on the last day was that they had not started sampling more desserts sooner.
Fittingly; at the end of what would be the last day of the world there was a beautiful sunset. Over cheesecake, almond paste and capirotada, a sourbet palette of long clouds rolled across a pale green twilight and everybody said “Look at that!”, and they did.
As night fell there were warm fires that everyone gathered around. They watched the heavens and when the first star appeared everybody made their last wish.
Lit by the conflagration of paper plates and folding chairs, faces whispered introductions and farewells, whispered their final intimacies to each other. Hands sticky with glaze clasped and adhered.
The appetite for sweets and talk and for each other’s company was insatiable and intoxicating right up until the end.
The end arrived quickly and without fanfare. Save for the final consensus that fudge with nuts was better than fudge without nuts, the end arrived without judgement.
And the last thing that passed through everybody’s mind, after the fudge and before there began a general tidying up of things, and passing so quickly that no sooner was it spoken it would be forgotten, this epithet:
Let it be said of us, that with the descendance of time like a sphere of warm light that quietly subsides behind distant mountains, in the collective delight that comes with pie and the sharing of pie, briefly, there was such community.
Reprinted with permission from The Raven Chronicles
Gregory Hischak is an award winning playwright and poet