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Is This the End of the World?


Written by Pranjal Joshi (she/her) | Contributing Author

Illustration by Gabbie De Baron (sher/her) | @gabizzlesizzle | Graphic Designer

I blink as the golden sunlight bleeds through a slender gap in the curtains. Faint purple hues creep into the blue sky as evening approaches. Opening the curtains, I sit on my windowsill with a can of lemonade and watch as a plane passes overhead. Its vapour trail slowly turns from white to peachy pink. For a moment I feel like a Disney princess, expecting bluebirds to perch along my arms and sing to me. Wisteria’s sweet scent dances towards me from the trees outside my window. They whisper goodnight to each other and just past them, the tide sings a lullaby to the shore. The crescent moon watches silently, waiting for its turn to shine at us, only for us to shut our eyes against it and drift into another morning.

But when my eyes open they are not greeted by birdsongs or a flood of sunlight. No beautiful flowers or blue skies. Where did they all go? They lie in the depths of my memories where they cannot be touched or tarnished by this cruel world. Or maybe we were the cruel ones, finally facing the consequences of the many mistakes we all made. Storm after storm, we wait for something to change. Maybe it will all stop one day. Maybe we will make it to that day. They say to look to the stars for answers, but all I see is smog.

I stand up, finally, and rub my eyes. My small apartment room, the only inhabited one in this building as far as I am aware, acknowl-edges me with the creaking of a floorboard as I step toward my closet. Yawning and stretching my arms, I look over my three clothing options for today. A navy blue safety suit, a purple one, and a black one. Black. Next, I look at my accessory options. A brown oxygen mask or a green one? The 250L oxygen tank or the 500L? Gloves, safe shoes, earmuffs and good luck charms. My brother had gifted those to me three years ago on my birthday. All eight of them dangle off different parts of my outfit every day. They must be how I've survived so long. I attempt to shake the thoughts of him out of my mind, but they only seep further into it. Sometimes my thoughts are like parasites. The more I fight them, the more they intensify.

The sound of my footsteps echo on every step of the staircase. They are the only sound, other than my breathing. I check one more time to make sure there are no air leaks in my gas mask. Taking a deep breath of the purified air in my oxygen tank, I walk through a large door onto the open terrace. My eyes wander, looking for hope, but it's nowhere to be found. It’s nowhere at all. My gaze settles on a patch of ground that is slightly cleaner than the rest. My brother used to sit there with me. I wish he still could.

Finally, I take a seat. My feet dangle over a thick, green, smog that engulfs what once was a beautiful home to so many people. The sky has greyed, like most of us, and not a bird is in sight. I’m not sure they exist anymore. Lights that once brightened this city now only cast shadows. Electricity many relied on for survival has long disappeared. The global blackout caused a lot of factories to be abandoned, sitting alone, diffusing all kinds of chemicals into the world until the air was too thick to breathe. It’s only gotten thicker. Storms, fires, droughts. Countless tragedies came and went one after the other, taking far too many people with them. I’m so tired of being alone, of rotting in a world that’s rotting away. A soft pain spreads in my chest as tears begin flooding my mask. Burnt houses littered across the city, my own somewhere in the midst, blur together morphing into the same grey abyss as the sky. Is this the end of the world?


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