from BE HERE TO LOVE ME AT THE END OF THE WORLD
OK. So. The crusades. It’s 1095. This one pope decides to retake the holy land and then everyone spends 200 years in an on-again off-again relationship with burning the middle east to the ground in a sort of If We Can’t Have It Fuck You sort of way. A boat of christian soldiers marching on to war to go murder everyone they can see so they can get into Heaven and stop suffering here on earth all the damn time all of a sudden get very sick on a boat and die from their mouths and nobody ever hears from them again. And so since nobody ever hears from them again they can’t warn anyone about scurvy, which is why, over the next 300 years, like 20,000,000 sailors die of scurvy, which is this disease that happens when you don’t eat fresh vegetables, and what happens to you is first your gums go black and rot and bleed, and then you start bleeding from your scalp and you go through what doctors refer to as “emotional changes,” while every wound you ever had on your body opens on up and begins to bleed more freely than you’ve ever done anything in your whole life, and it’s called scurvy. And anyway, today, Sam went down to the basement, navigating the bizarre and endless soviet-bloc style tunnels there that spat him out into an unusable parking lot, to the right of which was the grocery store, where he bought a sack of mandarin oranges, which he put in a large bowl once he got home. Eleanor walked in the door and, seeing them, said “Oh my God” and “I love you” and “How are we going to eat all of these, they’ll go bad, they’ll rot, they’ll die, Sam” she says “If we don’t eat all these mandarin oranges you so thoughtfully bought, for nothing is as nice as the smell of citrus while the snow falls, if we don’t eat them all before they rot, then someone you love will get scurvy, and they will die, and it will be terrible, for first their gums will turn back, and then bleed, and then their scalp will bleed, and they will go through what doctors refer to as ‘emotional changes’ and then every wound they have ever had will open up, and bleed, all that blood running from their body like their body was a house on fire, Sam, and they will die, and it will be terrible” and Sam says “Oh no” for he knows that this is true, and that Eleanor does not make the rules, and there is no use arguing. In the morning the sun breaks its way into the kitchen in a real spiritual sort of way. In the corner, a rubber tree plant is shedding itself of all its worldly possessions. Right now, at the table, Sam and Eleanor sit holding hot mugs of coffee to their faces. Between them is the bowl of mandarins. They stay like that all day. The sun doesn’t move. The rubber tree plant is completely devoid of all possessions. It grows new leaves. The old ones burst into flames and head on up to Heaven, with the angels. Eleanor walks out the door and goes to work. Sam just sits there. Eleanor comes right back. It’s Sunday. There isn’t any work. “There isn’t any work,” she says. She sits down. She’s shocked. Sam refills her coffee, and eases her coat off her back and onto the rack they hung over one of the doors for when guests come over, so they can put their coats somewhere. “Thanks,” says Eleanor. She means it so much. He took her coat away and gave her more coffee. She doesn’t have to do anything today. She can just sit here until the moon comes out. Sam’ll make lunch, and then Sam’ll make dinner. Outside the snow will fall. They’ll play scrabble and she’ll beat the shit out of him. They’ll stand up. They’ll go to the bathroom and brush their teeth, they’ll wash their faces, they’ll do a clay mask, it’ll get hot, they’ll wash it off, they’ll take off all their clothes, they’ll get into bed. This was their whole day, and now it’s over. Outside it’s snowing. Years ago there was a party in a house that was covered in these small trees. You could barely find the door. The basement was fully carpeted, with a bar, in the corner. The lighting upstairs was soft, and everyone’s hair was enormous and perfect. They were all talking about the future. This made everyone feel alive until they didn’t, and after that they went to work, and then the world ended. Up in Heaven, the natives, who are angels, were getting restless. They kept lighting their swords on fire and packing into the bedroom of one of Heaven’s smallest apartments. Meanwhile, Sam and Eleanor are asleep. The snow is falling. In the middle of the night Eleanor wakes up. She had this dream. “Sam” she says, softly. “Sam.” Sam, who is basically asleep, tells her that the city always leaves the streetlights on. In case the angels come.