Running to the World’s End- Final Part

That night, Denzia chose to walk home than take the train. Her mind was heavy with thought. She had felt invincible for the last ten years because she had a rare gift. She translated her power to protection, from the normal concerns of humanity, like death. Besides she’d always tapped her heart, and that had convinced her of life. But if her Mayan foretelling ancestors were right, then her heart beat revealed nothing. She felt powerless. As she walked through the narrow path that cut into her street, her eyes turned to focus on a poster that softly fluttered in the wind, but was still stuck against the wall. Its movements moved her. She was confronted by a sign. The poster was promoting a marathon to be held on the 21st of December 2012. The event was called “Running to the World’s End”, as the race was to close at the final transition between the 21st and the 22nd. Denzia mused at this. She had never run before, but this was such a beautiful idea. If the world was indeed going to end, then it would be a perfect way to go. Not running to the end, or away from it, but just alongside it, in the midst of her own achievement, until she would be swept up by the same grey cloud that would consume everyone. She also liked the idea of being normal, for a little while. Of running with thousands of people who were just as scared as her, and who she was now equal to in not knowing or seeing any more than what her eyes could show.

Over the following nights, Denzia left her door closed and her blinds shut. Even if her vision wasn’t grey, there would be nothing to tell her clients. It wouldn’t matter if they would be able to afford their dream house, or if the man would be chosen for that program. It was pathetic to think of what could have been, if the world decided to stand for a while longer. So she drained her room of that horrible incense smell, and went back to sleeping in her favourite position. Sleeping was all she chose to do, because her dreams were always in colour. They lured her to strange new worlds, and told her of life’s mysteries. She struggled to get up on the morning of the 21st. She thought how funny it would be if the world imploded even before she arrived at the race. It would be a waste, because the most dramatic moment for a mass exodus of life would be right on the cusp of a new day. It would be a time that teased with the hope of a future as everyone would begin to feel safe, and then brought forth the despair of finality. That would be the most appropriate, wicked way, because the end of the world was itself a wicked, wicked thing.

Denzia got ready, feeling that it would be the last time. The last time she could look in the mirror and smile at thoughts of being called “Denzia the Divine”; the last time she would behold her caftans neatly stacked in her wardrobe as a symbol of her craft. She would be free from being trapped in the untold futures of strangers, but she would be freed into something much less endearing. Inhaling deeply, she put on the most appropriate items that she owned, pushing her thick locks in a scarf. She picked the stress ball from her table and put it in her pocket. It was a memory of her former life, of the normalcy to which she was now returning. It also reminded her of a time that her visions came without a seeing thing. So it would spur her on to unexpected achievements, like running the race as well as she could. On the train to the field, Denzia felt the insecurity that normal people were prone to. She was surrounded by people who were dressed in the right running gear, with the right running shoes and clothes. But there Denzia sat, hair wrapped tightly in a scarf, in an old t-shirt and bell-bottomed trousers, wearing converses she had bought a decade ago when she was painting her store. It wasn’t such a divine sight. She was struck by just how many people were running this race. And then it made her realise how quietly her life had passed, as she discovered by accident what many had directed their thoughts towards for weeks.

As the train pulled up at the field, hundreds pushed their way out of the bustling energetic vehicle, into a field of grey. There stood thousands more: mothers, daughters, grandparents, all laughing or crying. But nothing in between. These moments that were left were made for strong emotions. Fathers mounted their young children affectionately on their shoulders, while mothers were swamped with the weight of their babies in slings. This race would not be one of blind competition, as they usually were. It was to make all these people feel that they were not alone in being afraid. And so they stood. Denzia among them, waiting in a line for the starting bell to go off, and hoping that they lived to hear the closing one. As it sounded, people started to run, in one great mass of movement. Some ran quicker than they could sustain to feel the breeze blow strongly against their faces, while some other just walked in hand with their families, savouring the moments of togetherness. Denzia was slower than most, as her body confronted her for this strange choice. While they ran, everyone seemed to keep alert for signs, or wonders, or sounds, that would usher in the end. So they moved, all in their own way. It was a long and hard race, and Denzia struggled to breathe. She was sweating through her scarf, and her thighs were throbbing. It also did not help that her converses were causing her blisters. Sometimes, she had to stop and tap her heart to be assured that she was fine. And she kept going. Time passed till it became the wicked time- the ten minutes before the crossover to the 22nd, where the hope and lightness was apparent. People were smiling around her, and some began to cry tears of joy, giving thanks to the universe for holding on to itself. Denzia was not convinced, and waited on the wickedness.

She could see the finish line at a small distance. Most had already finished, and were just standing with their eyes closed and hands linked, waiting for the final bell to go. Denzia was in so much pain that her vision became blurry. The end of the world might bring her body comfort now. As she limped to the finish line, she heard the closing bell go with a greater conviction than any sound before it. The field was torn into a place of screams and laughter, and of even faster movements than during the race. The world had survived. Denzia tried to breathe but her lungs failed her. She tried to tap her heart to assure herself, but she felt the beat slow down. In the midst of the joy, she was dying. This was why she could only see grey, and Mother Divine had seen grey of her- because her part of the world was ending. Perhaps Mother Divine had known. Maybe that knowledge was what filled her many silences that night. Denzia fell to the ground with her finger lightly placed on her heart. She smiled faintly as she realised that she really wasn’t normal, as she never wanted to be. Normal would be living and dancing. Laying there surrounded by laughter and relief, her world went dim. The moment that she could not tap anymore was the moment her heart stopped beating. Such symmetry of time. The stress ball rolled from her pocket to the feet of a little boy who picked it and began to play. And the world went on around her, like she should have known it would.

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