It’s the dust, she coughs out: it makes me nervous. Jeb understands, he can’t stop
looking out the small sliver of light, using it on his body like when he was a kid
burning ants with magnifying glass. It doesn’t feel warm, it doesn’t feel anything
but the dust swirls in it, small as grit in a contact, sometimes clouding over. Steph, his
boss before the world ended, has finished freshening her macabre nail polish and watches
him becoming an ant. Her brow furrowed in seismic sadness, her mouth the sinkhole.
I just, she says, …want you to know in case we die – ….. stop, he says, if you don’t
say it, you can’t die. ….. . . . I won’t be able to go in peace, she adds but falls silent. Jeb
doesn’t explain his refusal to help her ready herself for death. Doesn’t care
what her secret is, whether she loves or despises or thinks he’s gay. There is
another small tremor like the nation giving its death rattle. They are neither heaven
nor hell, but just as dead. Between that old celestial rock and godly hardplace. Dust falls
from everywhere like poverty snowflakes. Jedidiah stands under the only light
and speaks softly of all the worser ways to die.
Rafael S.W was the winner of ZO’s first 2014 Poetry Expo. He is a recent Creative Writing graduate and a founding member of Dead Poets’ Fight Club. Rafael has been published in The Big Issue Fiction Edition, Voiceworks, and Award Winning Australian Writing. He also regularly contributes to Going Down Swinging online and competes in poetry slams and giant-sized chess games.