I had the strangest thing happen on the day the world was supposed to end. It was scheduled to end at six. Could be late. Sometimes things go a bit later.
Apparently, according to a pal of mine, only the true believers were actually leaving – thus ending their lives. The rest of us have a hundred years of nuclear hell ahead of us and some other unsettling stuff, which many of us see coming anyway.
I haven’t read about it or any news for quite a while.
My mother recently died of cancer and for the longest while, the comfort of her survival was all I could attend to. The world would have to take care of itself and I’d catch up later, or I wouldn’t. I had stopped caring entirely.
So today, still a bit weepy but hanging in, I made myself enjoy the weather by scheduling some random outdoor tasks. I did some banking, bought a paper, a gross orange pop that is still clinging to stomach lining like it belongs there. (Don’t tell my naturopath.) I walked along College West destined for some café writing time and perhaps a movie. I really should have crossed the street. I considered it several times. The café was on the other side of the street.
So I was almost there. I smiled, nodded and said hello to a pretty cute Mr. of African descent who is eating vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone. He greeted me in unison. And then he turned around.
In about three to five minutes we found out a great deal about each other.
Okay, I’ll just tell you what I remember because the truth of this is insane to me and it felt like magic. Not a soul-mate magic, or even a romantic magic, but a spiritual magic – the broom of life sweeping me a bit forward.
I turned around.
“What is your name?” He walked towards me extending his hand.
“I am (shall remain nameless).”
“Where are you from?”
“Oh, here.” He pointed at the ground. “Oh. I am from Haiti.” Brief pause. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to write at the café on the corner.”
“Oh, you write?”
“Where are you going? Close by?”
“Oh.” He paused and seemed to find it odd.
“I’m gonna put my headphones on, have a coffee and write for a couple of hours.”
“What are you writing?”
“What’s it about?”
I hesitated to tell him – the subject being so personal. “It’s about almost dying. I almost died.”
“You almost died. I almost died.”
“You almost died.”
“You almost died. What happened?”
“It was 2004. The Africans were overthrowing the Haitian government."
“Your father was in the government.”
“Yes. My father was in the Haitian government and when the Africans were overthrowing the government, they burst into the house with guns and shot everything.” He gasped.
“But I was fine.”
“But you watched your father die.”
He looked right at me then started to walk away a bit. “I don’t know why I stopped you,” he said shaking his head and taking steps backwards.
“Do you regret it?” I asked.
“No. No, not at all.” He stepped closer again.
“And you’re a writer.”
“And you are going to write, right now in that café.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m an accountant.”
We stood there for a while just staring at each other. I didn’t want to talk about accounting.
“I have to go, and you must write your story. When it is written I will read it over and over again because I want to know your story. And I will cherish it. A lot of people will want to read your story. I will cherish it. And I know it will be very good because you wrote it.”
“Thank you. Thank you.”
“What’s your name again?”
He repeated his name, which wasn’t necessary because I remembered it. We shook hands again.
“I don’t know why I stopped you,” he said again. “I don’t know why I stopped you. I was just walking by and then I stopped you. Good-bye, Simone.”
“Bye (insert name here).”
We parted ways. I read the paper and wrote for a couple of hours. I considered inviting him to join me, but I didn’t. I chose to write instead.
The world didn’t end, of course – at least not for most of us. But I felt another world open and I walked in.