In The End

In the end, we are sitting in lawn chairs on the roof of the high rise, watching the city burn. Genise walks to the edge, looking out, and I stand beside her. She leans into me and says, “Who knew the end would be so dazzling? It’s like a night feast in space.” I inhale her, the lime musk of my wife’s sweat.

We go inside and call our friends in honor of the end, tell them, “farewell,” “adieu” or “envoi,” but they do not hear us. Genise dangles a bedsheet from the living room window, on which she has written, “Welcome to the end. Welcome to love” and lets it fall.

I turn on all the lights in our apartment and listen to the simmering of shattering glass from the shops and cafes lining the streets below. People scramble. We whistle, blow kisses to them all, those unknowing others so overwhelmed by the end we are savoring.

Our child, you see, is the end.

Genise showers.

“Come, look at the way he juggles the cars with the bridges, dear,” I say.

“He’s auditioning for the cabaret,” she says, towelling herself dry in the kitchen while stirring a pot of mashed apples. “Would you like some more quiche? Perhaps, some roast salmon with lemon drizzles?”

“No,” I say, transfixed by the end.

A smoldering shape, a paper-mache elephant floats across the sky in front of the high rise, a balloon made of thunder, its smoky tusks are wings carrying it to oblivion. Oh, to be alive at the end.

“How about some octopus fritters with cod roe and mayonnaise,” she asks, always the host, Genise.

Our child holds an electrical tower like a bat, tossing bundles of pedestrians into the air and knocking them past the horizon or all the way up to space where sheets of fire rain down in waves.

“Should we call him back home,” she says.

“I think we should sleep soon,” I say.

“He moves with joy,” she says.

Our child stomps and wiggles, claps and giggles his body to the sounds of a music only he can comprehend.

“Put on that record I like,” Genise says. I kiss her above the stump of skin where her ear once was, stroll to the cabinet, and set the needle in place on the record. She passes me a glass of honey and winks. Her wink sparkles. We clink glasses to the end and listen to the crackle give way to the rush of stirring cymbals.

“What’s this one called again,” she says.

“A love supreme,” she says. The words flow out of her scarred mouth. “Who knew the end would be full of so much love and beauty.”

“It’s good to know this is all we have in the end,” I say. I let the honey coat my mouth.

She pours me another and laughs. Our child is closer to the high rise. The screams below crash against the jazz, but we do not hear them. His bulbous head and arms block the wall of flames that roar in the distance. He bends until only his pupil fills the window. He stares at us with a look of warmth or longing.

“One last dance,” I say.

“Until the very end,” Genise says. “Until the end of the end of the end of the end . . .”


Jamie Grefe lives in Beijing, China, despite the air. His work appears in Mud Luscious Online Quarterly, New Dead Families, Brown God, Untoward Magazine and elsewhere. He continues to grow grey hair and panda eyes. Keep in touch here.