Lucy Corin



Three girls, maybe eight each, stand with sticks at a pothole of water. They're leaning, or stirring. It's hard to tell, because they're frozen, although it's summer. They're looking into the water together, with their sticks. Dim oils sketch the surface like lines from skating. One girl, the one in the middle, from this angle, anyway, has a piece of grass between her teeth, and she's grimacing. The end of the grass has fluffy seeds, and normally, it'd be bobbing. There's breeze, yet all is still. In this apocalypse, the air, it seems, can move, though nothing in it can. Where do you draw the line? Even seeds that could drift like smoke stick. There's no logic in it. Especially with pages accumulating, time continuing to pass. The girl on the supposed left is turning to dust as we speak, but invisibly, like a figure made of icing going stale. Touch her and poof.
      I know what they were doing. The girls were playing "three witches." They were making magic. They were poking their stew. They kept meaning to get on with their game. They'd planned to capture someone, and they'd planned to turn a bunch of things into other things. But after a while the entire plot had been taken over by recipes for potions. Then, of all things, this is what happened.



When Annie was a child her mother told her she had a gift and a burden, that what she saw was not what other people saw. "Remember, you know better than that," she told her daughter, when her daughter came home crying. "And you know better than them, too."
      It's hard to make friends with this much isolation, and Annie grew up in the midst of it. One day a man said to her: "Look at that boat," and there was no boat in the ocean that she could see. But he sounded sincere. Soon, another man, this one with a hat, said, "Look at that boat," and there was a boat; she'd seen it all along; it was exactly as he said, but this time the boat was truer than she'd been able to know before he showed her.
      "Watch it," said her mother, on the phone. Annie stared at her kitchen cabinetry, and saw her mother deep in the glossy paint.
      Later, she was eating an enormous salad at an outdoor café by the harbor. Every few bites she bent under the table to re-arrange a folded napkin under one of its three feet. After a while, she added a bottle cap under another of its feet. The third foot hovered. She scooched the table around on the cement. She took another few bites of the salad and it loomed like a mountain in front of her. She could see her knees through the mottled glass tabletop. The top wobbled in its white metal frame. She looked around, edging toward panic. Everyone seemed happy as bunnies. A bunch of them were clinking glasses. Annie turned sharply in her chair, this way, and then the other way. A few people looked up. Her breath felt like a train. More people looked up. A boat went by. There must have been more boats. It was a harbor, but she could only see one boat. It went by, sails gushing, and by the time she couldn't see it anymore everyone in the café had turned to watch her as item by item, signposts, trashcans, pedestrians, and then plank by plank the pier, disappeared until she was sitting with her salad in a desert at the ocean surrounded by nothing but suspended eyes.



The minions lined their sneakers along the wall and then made two lines, like teams at the end of a game, and each by each held hands and touched foreheads. They were past words. They'd been hollering and leafleting for months. They'd been psyching themselves up and out for years. They lay in their cots like orphans. Hands to hearts, eyes to the black air, the rafters of the bunker invisible in the dark, a sky without stars, everything celestial sprinkling the insides of their domed minds. They waited for the world to disintegrate. It would disintegrate before next light and they waited for a red and gold explosion to light the universe in one final burst. They listened to night tick through the wooden walls. It could be now, or now, or now. Someone held back a sneeze and then sneezed. They'd abandoned their timepieces in the river that evening at dusk but at two a.m. a boy named Jonathan got up from his cot, cracked open the door, put his penis out and peed. Then he went back to his cot. One woman, a secret doubter, had taken a bottle of pills before she lay down to wait and died with the click the boy made closing the door.
      By morning, there have been three more suicides and two of the leaders have disappeared into the woods. One leader is weeping under a tree, fallen leaves in his fists. One leader is running, running, running, hoping he will die midstep, trying to feel the moment within each step when he is sure both feet are off the ground because he feels that if he can prolong that beat he will be flying, he will be without his body finally, he will be light, light air, light light. In the hut one minion has punched another in the chest. One is cross-legged on her cot, watching. She's vacant or else she's fuming. Three have closed themselves in the kitchen and begun to screw. Two are quietly packing their knapsacks, stuffing them as full as they can with any useful items the group had forgotten or not bothered to purge: a woolen lap blanket, a can-opener, a tin of olives, a box of matches, a comb, a tube of lip balm. By two o'clock in the afternoon the bunker is empty except for a few dead bodies and one man, badly beaten, who is clinging to his cot like it's a raft, who is gasping for breath and calling "Help! Help!"



These are three apocalypses from an off-and-on project I imagine as a book of apocalypses. It could be a "one a day" calendar book. Or like the book my sister and I made when we were kids called "101 Fairies."