The world will end today at seven fifteen o’clock in the evening.
Greenwich Mean Time.
Everyone in the world knows this. They have known it for about a year.
An old man who knows this, is on his knees pulling weeds in a garden out of habit. It occurs to him this is a useless thing to do and that habits themselves are useless. He takes off his gloves and tosses them away. Let the weeds have their time.
He grunts, sighs, staggers to his feet. His knees hurt and his head spins. He rests his hand on a tomato stake to steady himself and glances at his watch to see if the second sweep hand is still moving at the same speed. He glances at the long afternoon shadows of the tomato plants. Holds out his hands to see if they have changed in any way. He understands what is about to happen but there is no way to perceive it
A child takes his grandmother’s most precious vase of Dresden porcelain and drops it from the second floor stairs onto the hard wood floor. His grandmother watches placidly, waving a fan over her face and sipping tea from a glass which is never quite empty. The priceless vase shatters, assembles itself, and leaps upwards to his little hand. He screams with delight and drops it again, over and over like a lavish yo yo. She puts down her tea and goes upstairs to try it herself.
The old man stands in his garden with his old wife, the retired entomology professor. She has veins in her legs.
He waves at a large bug with delicate wings.
“May Fly,” she says to him. “They live a day, no digestive system. They just mate and die. All in a day.”
“Oh,” he says, waving it away. It occurs to him. They haven’t fucked since New Years Eve of last year. “It’s very hot,” he says. “Would you like to take a little nap?”
They walk towards the house holding hands.
In a prison a man is sitting before an open cell door talking to the drunken driver who killed his wife a year ago. All the cell doors are open. Some prisoners have walked off. Some have been here so long they are terrified of the world outside. If only it had happened tomorrow, the widower jokes and the man sighs and wishes it were so. They sip cold coffee together and chat about their regrets.
At seven fifteen Greenwich Mean Time, this evening, Time as a dimension, as a phenomena, will come to a full stop.
No one knows why.
On a beach a man and a fat woman are laying in bathing suits. The fat woman should look ridiculous in the tiny suit, which covers her loins no better than a pocket handkerchief, which hides her nipples no more than a pair of Dorito chips on a string.
They have been friends since childhood. They have witnessed each other’s divorces from a distance. They have never touched each other.
The man has always loved her but never been able to say so.
Children run by and play in the waves, and clouds pass back and forth over the sun. They chat about their memories. Do you remember that time when? They chat about their first marriages and where they lost their virginity. In this last moment in a world increasingly without consequences, when people dressed in white robes crowd mountain tops to pray for the rapture, he has eyes only for her thighs, for the soft peaks of nipples that tent her top in the tickling heat of the sun. She chats of her first husband and how the children turned out well in spite of the selfish old asshole, especially her second son who is an air force test pilot. Yes, he was almost an astronaut, did he know that?
He comes around and places himself on his belly between her big thighs and presses his face into the tiny napkin covering the wiry hair below and inhales the musky cloth between her thighs smelling of sun block. He presses his lips into the sweat toasted skin of her broad thigh and licks it. Whatareyoudoingareyoucrazy, she asks. Whatever I want most to do, he says mildly. She raises up on her elbows to get a good look at him, maybe for the first time. He doesn’t care if she scolds or slaps him. He doesn’t want this last regret of never knowing what would happen next if only he had done this boldly. In this moment he regrets everything he has ever said to anyone because he did not say it boldly. As he presses his face insistently between her legs which she parts for him and he breathes her deeply, children run past chasing a ball.
People have congregated together. What difference does it make, they say, if we were rich or poor. We are all as we are now. We are in the same net.
In Palestine, a Muslim militant sits at a tea stall with a Jew. They pass each other pictures of their dead children.
Time is coming to an end.
Soon it will be still. No one knows what comes after that.
The fat woman, filled with curiosity and anticipation - no man has made love to her in years - has allowed her friend to stay where he is. She is publicly humiliated and also deeply thrilled that such transgression is now a possibility for her.
The man, still laying on his belly, his face pressed against her bikini bottom, hooks a finger under the seam of the cloth and tugs it back, exposing her hairy, oily sex. Behind him people have stopped to look.
Hey man, shouts someone, get a room.
He looks at her sex, really looks at it, adoring it. Its not the same as looking at a picture of a stranger in a magazine. To see the sex, for the first time, of a woman he has known all his life, to see it exposed to his gaze is terrifying and thrilling beyond words. It is a revelation within a revelation.
Here at the beach, aroused almost to violence, he feels time slow, feels it actually and a growing desperation as his scheme reveals itself to him.
Somewhere in a house the pieces of the Dresden vase are hanging drowsily in the air.
On the mountain top people are holding up their arms in exultation because the world will see them chosen at last, which is fast changing to moans of doubt and then fear. And then rage. Why has God not appeared on the clouds with a trumpet and a shout to carry them away, abandoning the rest to their fate?
In the prison, the widower and the prisoner push through the thickness of space to embrace and croak out their mutual pity and forgiveness.
The Palestinian and the Jew clink tea glasses together with resignation and irony as the air turns thick around them. The evening light from the dusty avenue glows bluely off the bottoms of their glasses. Dust hangs in the air and sparkles like falling stars.
On the beach, the man presses his tongue deep inside the sex of his oldest friend and breathes her again as he feels the drum beats of his heart slow to peaceful taps. He sucks the stiffened nub of her clitoris between her lips, sucks it firmly, massages the warm shaft of it with his puckered lips, arranges it and sets up a sucking rhythm that makes her gasp and lay back in surrender. She suddenly seems to understand what he is trying to do, opens wider and presses against his lips.
In Greenwich England it is seven thirteen.
Near the Dover Cliffs a man is playing with his old dog, throwing a stick straight up in the air, because the old animal has bad hips and doesn’t run well. They have been together eighteen years. They both leap with joy just as time slouches to a full stop. The man, the dog with open jaws, the ever tumbling stick float leisurely in the air like thistle seeds waiting to come down never.
The fat woman feeling her transport coming over her, is humping her sex desparately against the man’s agile lips. The couples around them having understood the man’s revelation are furiously copulating in the sand trying to catch the next wave of time exactly right and ride it.
At exactly seven fifteen the fat woman, shouting the man’s name to the falling stars, shudders and orgasms. Time freezes her perfectly in the moment.
On the mountaintop the saved remain standing like disappointed statues.
The fat woman, joined to the man’s lips and tongue for eternity, goes on throbbing in ecstasy. Throbbing.