The Apocalypse for Non-Believers

1 June 2014

At the work barbeque they burnt the sausages and chatted about death.
The four horsemen of bureaucracy were late, traffic, they said, shaking their heads
like scythes. Steven had put off doing the mowing for this, and regretted
it. Only fifteen minutes in, and he’d already run out of compassion and
conversation topics. His wife had kept him up all night, washing the sheets
of their son who was no longer home. He’d rolled his sleeves up for the occasion
and bumped into Maddie, who he’d accidently professed a drunken affection
for, long ago. She avoided his eyes, having taken a small breath of her boyfriend
and his joint, in the car before arrival. He was waiting there now, like the beach
trips she always promised herself. The potato salad tasted strange and they
spoke about the Ukraine. Martin took the floor with the surety of a man
who’d been divorced twice but was still looking. Only being the boss saved him
from the ridicule of being caught on dating sites at work. He held forth a gentle
tirade about America. The half-dozen employees bobbed heads like sunflowers
drunk on sunset. A child with a kite ran along the Yarra and they looked, whether
they had their own child or not. The sky is falling, he shouted, eyes wilder than tigers
in a zoo in winter. He ran, leaking string and gaudy patchwork. For a long time after
they’d returned to their sausages and favourite end-times, they kept looking upwards
at the sky, which remained a beautiful, almost painful, blue.

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