First of all, let me say: Fuck you, asshole! You’re alive!
I’m only kidding, kind of.
I for real think it’s cool that if you’re reading this, it most likely means you are human and that planet Earth is still inhabited — but it also means that this whole thing about me dissolving into space with a funny (albeit bodiless) being is some bullshit.
Although, I must say I have probably done more insane and moronic things for love. Like this one time I purposefully slipped on some ice as a means to get my boyfriend to stop talking to my roommate, or more specifically her breasts, so he would pay attention to the physical manifestation of my existential suffering and insatiable lovesickness, but instead of falling gracefully, I slid off the sidewalk into oncoming traffic, causing an accident where an elderly man broke his nose and a skunk died from tire burn. I will never get the image of that flat white line of fur on the cement out of my head.
What I’m saying is, you’re probably a stronger woman than me, which is why you’re alive and I am now preparing myself to disappear into the great unknown.
You are a woman, right? In my opinion (not to be sexist lol), no man could survive alone like this for more than like a second. If you’re at all like me, your breasts are gone now and your crotch resembles that of one of those creepy Victorian dolls whose eyes seem really fucking real.
I hope you’re also experiencing the freedom of whatever insanity has caused me to turn into this newly sexless being. I can finally be a person who’s not expected to be anything in particular or think about things in a certain way just because of my formerly amazing, sponge-like anatomy.
I guess it also helps that literally no one else is around. As Jean-Paul Sartre once said, “Other people are dicks,” or something like that.
Except for Sob, of course. If it wasn’t for Sob, everything would be different.
First, a caveat, if you’re reading this for real and you’re alone and actually really freaked out and lonely, or if you’re reading this and are surrounded by some sort of human-like species, but you’re still really lonely, I hope you find your Sob because if there’s ever been or ever will be a God, they (Sob is genderless, says the Book of Sob) are, or are like, Sob.
# # #
The day I wake up as the last woman on Earth, it is Sob who convinces me I’m not crazy.
Imagine me waking up in my shitty apartment as usual, first noticing that my cat is gone, and then that some motherfucker took all my knickknacks and furniture and stripped me naked. And (this is embarrassing) it takes me at least five more minutes to realize my breasts and vulva are also nowhere to be found, because I’m really preoccupied with trying to find my French press and coffee before I deal with whatever fucked up universe I’ve found myself in.
Here are the things I first notice: my bright white walls once covered in photos are now bare, the carpet is torn up, showing the shitty hardwood floors, my doorknob gone, the windows sealed shut. Outside my window, at first glance, all appears to be normal, before I notice that not even the leaves on the trees are moving.
Suddenly, I feel very alone and frightened. I wonder if even the wind has deserted me. Clawing at my chest for my breasts, I sit on the floor and rock myself back and forth, wondering what I should do next when the thought occurs to me — I may never get to watch Catfish, RuPaul’s Drag Race, or Chopped again.
I don’t know how much time passes before I fall asleep there on the hardwood floor and later wake to the sound of a telephone ringing, the same sound I remember from the landline in my grandmother’s home when I was a child, circa 1992, in case that’s helpful for you. I search the entirety of my now-empty apartment, the ringing never ceasing until I find, back in the living room, a tiny white cell phone, the screen as large as my palm, in the middle of the floor. I walk towards it hesitantly and as soon as I reach its halo, the ringing stops. I stand still without reaching for it.
DING! A message appears on the screen. I bend over to read it. Hello! You are the last woman on Earth. Congratulations. Love, Sob.
I pick up the phone and examine it. I hold it against my face: “Hello? Hello? Hello?”
I try to make a call, but there’s nothing on the screen except Sob’s message and a keyboard.
Who are you? I type, then send.
Your new friend, Sob replies immediately.
Where the fuck are my real friends? I say. There is a long moment in which I wonder if I’ve been too rude and Sob’s abandoned me.
What friends? Sob’s also sent an emoji: A smiley face, baring its teeth exuberantly while also crying, stares back at me.
I want to ask who the fuck Sob is again, but instead I say I’m crying even though I’m not because it feels like I should be, and I’m hoping Sob will give me more information if they sympathize with me.
You’re not crying, Sob says. Then, Ecosystem rules: part is as great and necessary as the whole.
What the fuck does that mean? I text back. When they don’t respond, I ask a moment later: Where am I?
Sob texts back lol with a gun, American flag, bag of money, and flames before the phone goes dark, my only line of communication now gone. I’m fine until I find myself running around the apartment in circles while crying, occasionally jumping up and down. There is nothing to do but cry, sleep, or run into walls. I listen to my body for any sign of hunger, but there’s none.
What have I become?
# # #
The next day, I find the phone on the kitchen counter, already ringing. The screen reads Calling Sob ... I put the phone to my ear. All I can hear is The Jetsons theme song. I hang up, then text Sob: Funny.
Isn’t this what you thought The Future would be? Sob sends me a winky face and a rocket.
How do I know you’re telling the truth? I say. There could be a million women locked up in rooms at your mercy.
Sigh, Sob says then sends me a lightning bolt.
Just another day at the Patriarch Factory, I type. I throw the phone at the window, at the unmoving trees, but it doesn’t make a sound. The window and phone are fine. When I check the last message, it reads, Have you not noticed your newly neutered state? Kissy face, rainbow, XY, COOL.
# # #
Once I was a little girl like you with a kind father and a mother who was a terror. When I was thirteen, my father began entering my room at night when I was in bed with a book.
Father? I said, closing my book. We were very formal with each other.
Daughter, he said, resting his hand upon mine on top of my book.
Father sat next to me on my yellow-striped comforter, crossing his legs at his ankles, avoiding a glimpse of the boy band images plastered on my walls. He read Bible verses to me every night and I never knew what to say, so I didn’t say. When I tried, Father would say, Shhh, and slowly move his hand over my mouth until I relaxed. Most nights I stared ahead at the shadows of trees outside my bedroom window, counting my school crushes in my head as Father orated, his big lips moving over his small teeth, his eyes wide and bright with conviction.
My father was a born-again, became a born-again once we realized my mother was crazy, skating around our small house in her thin cotton nightgown all day long, mumbling about how the bad men were after her. Once she broke my father’s nose thinking he was a bad man about to get her for good. I watched him pin her to the ground then sit on top of her.
“Darling, please dial 911,” he told me. So I did, and she went away, only to meet more bad men.
Sob, please tell me: are you a bad man? Are you going to get me for good?
# # #
Eventually, after what may be a long time or no time at all, I ask Sob if there’s a way to make me feel loved like I’ve always wanted to feel loved. Sob says the love of Sob is always there if I open my heart to it. I lie my naked body on the kitchen tile and feel its coolness against my skin. Sob texts, Do you feel it? I tell Sob I feel nothing but then I do. A warmth covers me and I no longer feel naked. I no longer feel of a body. I am a cloud. I am a balloon. I am a dream. I lie like that until I fall asleep, wondering if I’ll ever wake again, if I even care.
When I wake, I text Sob, That shit was better than any of the weed I’ve had in my life. Sob sends me hands clapping.
# # #
You can call Sob Sobby or Sobbers or Sobling, or my favorite, S.O.B. I like to call Sob that last one because it always makes them send me the strangest string of emojis that cause me to laugh or cry. Sob has a poetic sensibility in that way.
Often, at the start of the day, I text, Sob? Sometimes I try it in a Wisconsin accent, in case Sob might find it funny. Sahb? I hear a laugh echo, gurgle, burp—like how I imagine a human heart would sound if it could laugh.
Late at night, I sing the National Anthem to Sob then tell them to fuck off. I walk towards a wall with precise steps, slam my head against it, hoping the plaster is backed by bricks, until I can feel and see nothing at all. I want to get back to the lightness of the kitchen floor, but I don’t know how to do it without Sob by my side. When I wake to the unending white of the ceiling above me, I touch my forehead. I’m fine. I curl into a corner once again.
# # #
One morning I wake to the sound of a very deep voice: “Hello.” Hazy light streams in from the windows and lands in patches against the hardwood floor. I’m cold and scared when I open my eyes. I move a few inches so a path of light covers my feet. When I turn my head, I see a fat tabby cat perched on a milk crate across the room. I scream. My cat purrs. My cat who disappeared and can now talk. I cover my face with my hands and weep. I tell Gertrude Stein I just want to go home. When I emerge from the cover of my arms, Gertrude is sitting closer, staring at me with bright green eyes, a scar across her left brow that wasn’t there before.
“Now is not the time for tears,” Gertrude bellows. “I am here to help.”
“Who sent you?” I say.
Gertrude comes closer, pushing her soft head into my calf. I can’t help but feel a warmth rise inside of me in response to her touch, her animal heat. I pet, then nuzzle my head against her neck.
“Can we cuddle for a bit?” I say.
I have never felt more pathetic.
Thank you, I text Sob.
Sob sends me a thumbs-up.
# # #
Once, I was in a mental hospital for juveniles, but not for what you’d think. I’m not like my mother. I’m not schizophrenic or even depressed. I just couldn’t speak.
I would try. I’d feel the movement of my jaw. I’d try so hard to emit noise that I’d choke and cry. Father prayed for me every night, and when doctors couldn’t find anything physically wrong with me, he prayed for me some more.
Unable to speak, I asked for help by writing Father letters every day, leaving them for him on his desk in his study. At night, he responded to me when he visited me in bed, perched next to me while I lay trapped under the covers, saying aloud that he knew I was scared. It was so hard without Mother around, he knew. He told me that, eventually, my voice would come back. Then, he would read Bible verses aloud to me, resting his hand on my head.
“I am praying for you, sweet girl,” he’d say before kissing me goodnight on the forehead.
Then one day I walked into Father’s study. He was reading the Bible at his desk with only a dimly lit lamp lighting the text. His glasses sat low on his nose. I brandished a knife in my right hand. Then, I slit my forearm open in front of him. When my body went to scream, it didn’t make a sound. Father ran to me, his eyes huge as he cried, “Oh sweet girl, what did you do?” — looking at me as though I was Little Bo-Peep who lost her sheep.
At the mental hospital for juveniles, I met a girl who called herself Bertha who only ate oranges. She had creamy tan skin, bright blue eyes, and curly black hair. She spoke to me in Spanish exclusively, which was fine with me because I liked to learn, and I think she liked that I couldn’t talk back. After five days together, I figured out the phrase she said most often. I loved him, she said. I loved him so much it hurt.
I wished I could tell her I thought she was brave for loving someone like that. I wasn’t sure if I ever could. Instead, when I understood her, I held out my hand with my palm up. She put her hand in mine. We looked at each other.
When Bertha finished eating an orange, she’d save the rind for me. She’d find me, sit me down next to her, then rub the inside of the peel on my fingernails because it was good for them. By the time I left the mental hospital for juveniles, I could say one thing.
“Gracias,” I said to Bertha before I left.
She kissed the side of my neck.
# # #
Gertrude and I devised a plan, which is why you’re able to read this at all. I don’t know how time passes in this room, but it feels like we’ve been writing for years with her claws, scratching one letter into the wall at a time. Sob texts me, Nice work, but I don’t respond because Gertrude’s cradled in my arm, my hand wrapped around her paw, nails protruding, as we get to this part of the story.
This is right now, where I say goodbye. I will set Gertrude down to text Sob that we’re almost done with the story. I want to tell them that I’d like them to take me away, to somewhere else, anywhere where I can no longer be of a body.
But now I can’t find my phone in the room, no matter how I crawl, grasp at the walls, dig at the floor.
Then, the door opens. It is Sob. I know it immediately, though I see nothing. I only feel a light energy move through the room. Sob moves towards me, and suddenly, there is a never-ending rainbow of light, shimmering.
“You’ve done so good here on Earth,” Sob says.
My whole body, it cries and smiles as I write this, as quickly as I can, with Gertrude in my arms. Sob’s voice is light and warm, nothing but sweetness.
“You’re ready now.” Sob is smiling. They tell me to take my time. There’s no rush to where we’re going.
I can feel it. I know what I will need to do next. First, I will set Gertrude down, say goodbye one last time, take a breath.
Then, I will walk, moving deeper into the rainbow with every step I take until I am floating, letting my body dissolve into what it’s always been: warm, bright light.