a week before the world ends
No one was more surprised than me
when the end of the world was announced.
The catastrophe we had caused caught up with the
catastrophe that we were.
No more was the sixth mass extinction about other species:
it was now about the species who had caused the collapse.
Having been born with a crooked sense of time,
I immediately began stockpiling items for
my time capsule. Even though we humans were toast, I fully expected
another intelligent species to arise from the dust bin of history—
and was determined to leave a message, a legacy
to them, whoever or whatever “them” turned out to be.
But I wasn’t interested in giving any kind of Grand Message message
to the future—didn’t care about imparting any hard-won “wisdom”
from a dying species (who had, ironically, caused their own dying).
No. I just wanted to be remembered.
Kilroy was here.
I wanted to build a monument to myself,
a sarcophagus selfie. Desperate not to dust away into oblivion.
To save myself from/for history,
my primary document was a Mendacity Bio.
I invented titles of books I hadn’t written, and awards they had not won,
and created an ideal false history of accolades, kudos, and
cultural achievements. EGOT was my
destiny. Nobel my middle name.
But I also included one tiny piece of truth:
a selfie of my car crash, complete with the proper
distressed Instagram filter, where I had wrecked my life:
on the intersection of Scared and Lazy
It was a busy boulevard, the most traveled part of the city.
I had stalled there many times, but a week before the world ended,
I realized it had been and would now for eternity always be,
my permanent place of rest.
In the meantime, I could lie to the future,
the way I had lied to myself throughout the past,
that I was a someone, a creature of distinction, someone
of worth and value, who had thoughts and opinions and
who had said them, shared them with the world, consequences
Instead, I sat at the intersection of Scared Drive and Lazy Way,
observing, yes, taking note, yes, but rarely divulging
the thoughts that sat behind my eyes, unuttered.
Penny Perkins holds an MFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. Her short story “Car Ride Through Corn Fields (1975)” was chosen by Manuel Muñoz as the winner of Beecher’s Magazine 2014 Fiction Contest. Her short story “Gut Feelings” was a finalist for the Reynolds Price Prize in Fiction as a part of the 2015 International Literary Awards sponsored by the Center for Women Writers. Recent short stories have been published or are forthcoming in The Pine Hills Review, Waxwing #5, and HOAX #10. Other publication credits for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction include Salon, Conditions, The Portable Lower East Side, Curves, Girlfriend No. 1, and Book, among others. She currently lives in northeast Florida and teaches at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.