When The World was Ending
I lay in bed under the December sun. Dust particles dispersed in the sunlight, I spend almost an hour watching them; motionlessly, effortlessly. 9 o’clock, shoot. I have to reach to the day-care in an hour. Today is my last shift. I finally got the apartment in the Upper East Side, among the rich. Moving to NYC always seemed like a dream; big busy city, a young girl pursuing her dream career in midst of a chaos and challenges, falling in love with a man on my way, in the end a happily ever after. It was, at last, just a dream.
I got up, splashed handful of water on my face and looked into the mirror. 32. I look older than my age. Dark circles, wrinkles and flat lips, god I’m getting old. I rushed to get ready and walked out of my small one-bedroom apartment to catch the bus. With coffee in my one hand, I held the handle in the bus with my other. My eyes lay on a young couple sitting in front of me. It reminded me of me and my husband; we spent our whole day running around town, working together in the neighbourhood restaurant. Life was good before we got married. He wanted to start his own business. A chuckle left my mouth. Own business. He was so excited for it, we had saved all our money, got a bloody insurance, he got the shareholders. It was about to be the biggest accomplishment of our lives. He always dreamt big. Two dumb, very much in love teens dreaming about an impossible life. We never went to college either.
The bus driver pressed the brakes, I almost fell. Glaring at him, I got out of the bus. 10:30 am. I rushed inside to find Este already with the kids.
“I’m so sorry” I apologised.
“Its alright” she smiled. Este, the owner of the day-care, was kind enough to hire me even though I had no qualifications. She had been with me through thick and thin.
12 pm, I finally managed to get the kids to quiet down and colour in their notebooks. Such a pretty and innocent crowd of little devils. These kids have been my everything from past 8 years. 8 years of my life I spend in this small room, without planning or thinking of tomorrow. Living today was difficult enough for me. 8 years ago he passed away, left me all alone. My parents wanted me to move back, get remarried but my heart never gave in. I quit painting and started coming here. Now in a few days I’ll begin a new chapter of my life. He always told me he wants to see my paintings in an art gallery, I’ll do that. I’ll quit crying, I’ll quit not living my life just for him.
I sat on my desk watching the kids when little john came up to me showing me how he turned himself into a super hero. I praised him, “Good job John! What’s the superhero’s name?”
“He’s C-capt Sav-avi-” he stammered.
“Captain Saviour?” I asked.
“Yes!! Grr” he shouted and ran to his desk. I watched him show everyone his little painting with so much admiration and excitement, it reminded me of Him. That’s when my phone rang.
“Hello?” I picked up.
“oh- oh m- oh my god” Este panicked on the phone.
“Hello? Este este? What happened? calm down”
“See the news, Betty” the panic and horror still in her shaking voice. I quickly switched on the tv.
‘This is a global emergency; everyone is requested to stay where they are. This is a global emergency’
“Este what is it?” I got up and looked out of the window. People running in all directions.
“I-I don’t know. Betty, you are with the kids watch them. Something is happening I don’t think any of their parents will be coming. Lock the doors and be wi-”
“Hello? Hello?” I shouted, nothing but a static sound could be heard. I started panicking. No network. News channel was static too. I turned on the radio, no luck. Electricity went out. Kids started panicking as well.
“Miss, what is happening? I’m scared dark” Sofia said holding my hand.
“Me too” three other children called out.
“Miss, can we open the curtains?” Brian suggested.
“Um” I struggled. I need to be strong, the scenario of outside is scary. Okay Betty get it together. “Oh no no, we are going to play a game”
Almost all of them cheered.
“I need you all to move your tables, chairs and backpacks to the back to room. got it?”
“Yes” they all said in unison.
“Alright I’ll be back in a minute, lets see how quickly everyone does it”
Everyone rushed to get the furniture. I ran to lock the main gates, I saw the bright white sky turn unusual green. There were no clouds, no sun, or birds. I got back, told everyone to sit in a circle.
We all sat, holding each others’ hands. I could feel the tears dwelling up in my eyes. Is the world ending? Just like that? I questioned myself. I thought about the kids sitting around me, what about their life? Their future? They just started to learn, observe the world. Will they understand whats happening? Will they ever get to see their parents? I thought about their parents, how helpless they must be in some other corner of the city. Wondering if their kids are alright, at the thought of this I heard a cry.
I opened my eyes to find Gia crying.
“Are you alright darling?” I asked. I felt my voice empty. My throat was dry, my heart was throbbing. I felt suffocated.
“I miss my mom, I’m scared” she said sobbing.
“Its alright honey, your mom will be here soon”
“My mom always sing a song when I feel scared”
“We can do that” I smiled. As the words escaped my mouth, I saw her eyes lit up even in the dark. How innocent and clueless they are.
“Its called, welcome to won-wo”
“Wonderland?” little John completed. “I know that song!”
“Me too!” several children joined.
“Alright we’ll sing that on count of 3. 1, 2-”
Everyone started singing together,
“Welcome to wonderland, we’ve got it all
Potions and pastries that make you grow tall”
I felt the hair on back of my neck stand up. For the first time in a while I was praying for a tomorrow. Whatever happens today, at least I wont leave with a heavy heart. I’ll finally be with him. I thought of him, I thought of his annoying habits, his infectious smile, his dad jokes. I missed him.
I thought of my parents, do they even know what’s happening?
“Make an appearance and maybe they’ll sing us a song
Dancing through a dream underneath the stars”
I opened my eyes and saw everyone singing their little hearts out, eyes closed. Tears shedding from my eyes, what if its a dream after all?
I closed my eyes, his face appeared. That same wide smile. And the last thing I did was smile.