The End Is Near
by Kim Parko
When the clouds came in paraded patterns, Imelda knew the end was near. The first row of clouds drifted over the mountains in swirls. The second row of clouds came tumbling over the mountains in fetal forms. And the last row of clouds came heavily, swinging their trunks. The last row of clouds halted and stretched their trunks down to the ground. They began to suck up the cityscape and everything in it.
Imelda thought only of her Frank. Her Frank was somewhere in the churn of the city. At this moment, she could feel that he was between stations, stalled in darkness.
Frank knew something was amiss when he checked the Weather Channel that morning. It had simple said, "WARNING". Whatever city he checked, he found the same oblique forecast. The satellite imagery was beautiful, however. It was as if shoulder-to-shoulder hurricanes had wrapped the globe in spirals.
Later, on the way to the subway station, Frank had marveled at the fetal forms tumbling across the sky.
Imelda saw the city in the distance slowly rise up from the middle, like a handkerchief plucked off the table. That is when she swallowed her umbilical cord.
When Frank heard the wrenching overhead and its grinding reverberation through the tunnel, he thought of his wisdom teeth. How the dentist had yanked them out without proper anesthesia. He had felt the desperation of his roots as they held, sobbing, to his jaw. Frank thought, "The teeth are being pulled. I'm in the throat."
Frank felt a shift in his stomach. It was Imelda, restless in his womb. He looked into the face of the pregnant woman to his left. I am going to give birth, he told her.
Imelda had imagined the interiors of whirlwinds from the time she sat in her parent's basement and heard the voracious mouth gulping air above. Now she was in a tube of pure muscle that was moving her forward in a series of painful contractions. But there was something familiar about the smell. It's Frank's cologne, she marveled.
The passengers parted to make way for the man who was about to deliver his wife. The tornadoes swirled on the streets above like mystics invoking their God.
Imelda felt a scream rupture her throat that announced to the circling witnesses that she was alive.
In unison, Frank felt the face of the earth lift from its cheekbones.