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by Colin Lubner

She is so Amish, he says, that the aliens, when they come, will probably classify her as a different species. He’s joking, he says! They are lying on their backs in the loft when he says this; he smells of hayseeds and pot, and she cannot stop thinking of showering after he goes home. She, he says, will be fine; the aliens will spare the animals. Below them — dreamlessly, she thinks — horses shift in their sleep. There are at least one million ways the world can end, he says; aliens are only one. Through gaps in the unfinished gambrel shine half-broken constellations; Orion, he guesses, and she thinks: the False Cross. But she isn’t Amish: that’s just one of their jokes! And the world doesn’t end. And — what do you know? — they age. They get engaged. He tells her he tells his therapist he loves her because she represents everything everything else is not. Sometimes, as if tiring of his typical pomposity, he lists the ways the world has not yet ended. The Pacific has not yet swallowed Hollywood. Kurzweil was an optimistic ignoramus. She wishes their local park’s woods, which is where these lectures occur, within which the sound and reek of the nearby highway never quite disappear, were more like her woods back home. She wishes he would stop. He has his kinks. Everyone, he says, does. His big one has lookalikes of now-adult child actresses engaging in what she deems depravity. He asks if she remembers Full House. He identifies for her the fictive sister of Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. One day she asks him if he thinks things will ever return to the way they once were, and he says: sure. And she says: are you sure? And he says: sure, I’m sure. And for the first time he sounds unsure.

Colin Lubner writes (in English) and teaches (math) in southern New Jersey. His work has either appeared or will appear, temporally speaking. You can find directions to extant pieces by checking out his Twitter: @no1canimagine0. He is keeping on keeping on.