I am 45 years old, I am in debt, with a job that does not pay commensurate with the skyrocketing inflation. I am single.
I am not frightened.
When I am older, I will give up my car after a series of catastrophic mechanical breakdowns and go everywhere in a mobility rascal scooter. Tucson will not have built any more pedestrian infrastructure, so I’ll have to cruise a brisk 15 mph in the bike lanes. In a small concession to safety, I will hoist a neon-orange flag up a 4-foot wire to flap frantically at driver eye-level. Bike-lane riding is not entirely safe, but it’s legal, so I will use it because I have rights to the road as much as any other taxpayer.
I will walk less and gradually my body will pupate into its final form—corpulent and massive. I’ll be a decadence of flesh with gravitational heft. The bottom of my ill-fitting shirt will routinely pull up, alternately exposing a wide swath of stretchmark riddled lower back, or a thick, dimpled roll of fat with a dark dent of belly button in the front, depending on which way I move. My hair will be punk, the way it skunks dark purple until that hard edge of stopped-dyeing white. I will not care. I am freed from your ridiculous notions of beauty. I will not be for your viewing pleasure.
Some of you will argue, “you don’t want to be beautiful, but you should be healthy.”
“Oh, do go on about that,” I’ll say, immediately slurping loudly from my 64 oz Thirst Buster Chiller Bladder Buster Huge Travel Cup filled with soft, crushed ice and sweet tea as I roll right out of that conversation. Don’t you get it? The world will be an inferno by then. I will be outside—
Vitamin D: Charging.
The end of the world is imminent, in the sense that in the future when I am rascaling around Tucson, I will not be planning for a peaceful retirement and fading away into wallpaper at a home where someone forgets to change my diaper. I will still be working part-time at Tuesday Morning, where I can get towels and sheet sets for 75% off. I will hook my friends up with all the tchotchkes and candles. I will buy little needlepoints with sayings like, “Live, Laugh, Fuck Off,” and hang them like license plates from my scooter. I will live within my modest means. My only extravagance will be food for my rescue Pug, Peanut, the heavy breathing, wall-eyed, potato-shaped dog that rides in the basket of my rascal like a hood ornament. Technically, he’s not allowed in any of the stores I take him into, but what low-paid store clerk is going to stop me? They will be able to see that I am a woman unconcerned with rules.
Peanut and I will go everywhere in this town. My husband will likely stay home, working on his own retirement projects, let’s say bird watching … or bird feeder building. That’s okay, because Peanut and I will motor to Food City, and then to OK Feed and Supply. We’ll pull up to Taco Bell for a Crunchwrap Supreme that Peanut and I will eat in the parking lot, before rolling through Target. I may take the bus to get out to my respective doctors, but Tucson’s public transportation systems will continue to be paltry, and I’ll have to ride part of the way in that bike lane or sometimes just in the pebbly unmarked edge of the road’s shoulder.
When that white Ford F-150 pulls out too fast from the Circle K and plows into me, I will die instantly from a skull fracture, which will be a blessing since the medical bills would have destroyed us. The driver of the car will be distraught at first but eventually agree with the consolation from friends that I shouldn’t have been in the road. Peanut will be thrown clear and survive. My niece will nurse him back to health after they amputate his mangled leg. He’ll spend the rest of his years moving between a plush, air-conditioned house and an air-conditioned Range Rover. Let’s be clear, though—he will absolutely miss me and the rascal, the scorched asphalt of a burning world, the open road, a little cupped-handful of ice to crunch, and the cheap tasty treats my dialysis nurses would give him.
I will not get an afterlife. I will simply cease to be. The world will end. Or it will keep going. Everything after me is fuzzy and, frankly, pointless to speculate about. It will not have been a movie-worthy life, but it will still be something. So don’t judge me. Don’t you dare judge me.
Reneé Bibby (she/her) is the director of The Writers Studio Tucson, where she teaches beginner and advanced creative writing workshops. Her work has appeared in PRISM International, Luna Station Quarterly, Third Point Press, The Worcester Review, and Wildness. Her stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes and Best Small Fictions. Reneé is involved in the writing community as the coordinator of Rejection Competition and Tucson-based Write Wednesday weekly writing meetup. / Tweets @specialfeather / reneebibby.com