They never mentioned there would be sunshine during the apocalypse.
They never mentioned that it would grow so quiet in the sleepy 2 o’clock hour and that the chirping of birds would grow so loud. They did not mention it because it was not something we were privy to in our stacked office buildings.
They mentioned rattling storms and pounding rain and angry gusts of wind.
It did that today. The lights flickered. The front door banged back and forth in its frame as the air swept violently between the cracks of open windows and up through the stairwell.
But then the sun poured back inside our darkened apartments 2 hours later. And they never mentioned that.
They did not mention that we would be alone. I always thought that when the apocalypse came at least we would be together. But I cannot remember the last person I touched and that truth is scarier than the whole of Revelations.
They did not mention the phone calls. The way the term “zoom” took on a new meaning. The tightness that released from our chests when familiar faces took hold of our screens, filling our living rooms with cellphone light and our souls with connection.
They mentioned there would be death. So much. They mentioned there would be bodies. Ours are stored in refrigerated trucks. They talk about putting them in the parks next. They say, “just temporarily” as if that makes it normal, less jarring, easier to swallow. They mentioned all of that. All of that is really happening.
They mentioned there would be wails. Right now it is the wails of sirens from ambulances. This was not uncommon before. Not here in this city. But it grips me in a way it never has before and my chest caves when I hear another and another. And I wonder if the person they are racing towards will end up in the refrigerator trucks, too.
But they didn’t mention the people. Those who are living. And the echoes they would make around the neighborhood, across the city, swallowing up the whole damn island with their noise. How their cheers overran with un-repayable gratitude. How their yells reverberated against each other’s with absolute resilience. They didn’t mention the new found means we would create for our pots and pans and how the rattling clang of “I AM STILL HERE. We all are” would become the battle cry of the 7 o’clock hour. How it would be that switch of the clock’s hands that would bring the brightest 3 minutes of our days. They did not mention that even in our separation, our isolation, our fear, through the rain and wails of ambulances, we would still find a way to take part in this great and magnificent whole.
They did not mention the silence that follows. I expected the apocalypse to be deafening, full of cries of children and roars of flames. But instead, in the moments after the people go back inside, back to their separation, there falls a silence that lays bare the marked anthem of the apocalypse. More so than the storms or the ambulances, it is the silence we have found most devastatingly familiar.
But they did not mention that through the silence, after all that jubilant noise, there is something that breaks it once more. There is the great bellowing whisper that rises through your whole chest, right through your throat, tickling the back of your nostrils, itching up through your spine.
It breaks free into the crowded, anxious, hurried thought bubbles of your mind. It roots its weary feet, grabs hold of your aching skull, demands to be known, to be heard, and it fills you with your own anthem.
The one you will hold and repeat and scream louder than the sirens, until all this blessed mess of a storm has passed, because it will.
I AM STILL HERE.
We all are. Me and my city. Me and my humans in this world.
We will not go silently.
No. They did not mention that.