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In the Next World

Margaret Rose Smith

            Four days before the end of the world, Trent and I were smoking a blunt on top of his aunt’s roof like we did every Sunday. We never fucked sober, or it would ruin the whole schtick where we pretended we were friends.

              “In the end, we’re just animals,” Trent said, smoke spilling out of his mouth like baby vomit, “it’s like, why deny that we crave that connection, that instinct to pass on our species?” He scratched underneath his chin, where angry ginger stubble was pushing out. He’d stopped shaving when he’d heard the end was near.

              “You hear that Jodie’s going to Japan?” I said, trying not to think about my instincts for once, and have a civilized conversation with him.

               “Mm,” replied Trent, passing the blunt back to me, “stupid shit.”

               “I think it sounds fun,” I said, inhaling and feeling the smoke hit the back of my throat and coat my mouth in the flavor of pencil shavings.

               “Sure it is. But then what? You get back and you have one more thing to miss when you realize you won’t get to go back.”

              “I guess that’s true,” I sighed, laying back on the roof shingles and looking up at the sky. It was one of those afternoons where both the sun and the moon were visible, as if sizing each other up for battle.

                Three days before the end of the world, Trent and I were flipping burgers in the back of the In-N-Out on Playa Del Norte Drive, a task which always ended up feeling like a ritualistic competition for dominance.                                   Whoever could spatula fastest would win possession of the female in heat, in this case the yellowing print-out picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe that hung over the fryer baskets. I liked when the bits of crud from the griddle landed in oily specks on the neck of Trent’s t-shirt.

                Two days before the end of the world, Trent called in sick to work and urged me to do the same. I was hesitant, but figured there was no point in coming in if he wasn’t going to be there. Our manager hadn’t even come in since she heard about the end, anyway. We drank ourselves sick on Trent’s aunt’s bottle of New Am. She was saving the nicer stuff for a special occasion. The twin bed croaked underneath me, begging to be put out of its misery as Trent gathered fistfuls of my hair and pulled like he was trying to take my mask off.

             The day before the end of the world, I planned to go over to Trent’s aunt’s house and tell him I loved him. When I got out of bed, the room started spinning and I blew chunks all over the carpet. When the room stopped spinning, I knew it was already too late. I cried like a girl. Maybe, in the next world, I’ll be one.

Carolyn Schlam

Zoe Hansen

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