Dawn from Buffy Learns About Climate Change
[ fiction ]
When the apocalypse comes, I won’t be allowed to have Cheerios anymore. Not because at the end of the world, there will be no breakfast cereal, but because if the world doesn’t end, my sister actually thinks there will still be beds to make and carpets to vacuum, and she says she’s tired of stepping on the little O’s that I just can’t seem to keep in my bowl.
I know I’m a slob, but I’m working through some things, and with the impending annihilation, I haven’t really had a lot of me time, you know?
Yesterday a weather tweet went viral because it called for “cloudy with a chance of fire bolts,” and I laughed when I saw it and asked if it was supposed to be a reference to that famous children’s book, or if it was just a coincidence, but everyone was busy getting their apocalypse readiness kits, well, ready, and no one answered me in the room.
The smoke from the smoldering wreck of our town seeps past the towels we wedged around the doors and window frames, and the air in the kitchen tastes like burning, but I keep eating from the box of Cheerios anyway, thinking about that book and how that was another sort of apocalypse, I think, only with food falling from the sky instead of sparks and hellfire and the cremains of innocent woodland creatures.
Given the choice I’d probably prefer the former kind of end times: drowning in a lake of soup, say, or being buried under a cold butter avalanche.
If the end were coming in the form of food hailing from the sky, I’d maybe wait for the big Cheerios to drop and climb aboard one like a life raft.
But the news says the dry season isn’t even halfway over, and it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll get that kind of finale here in California, and I don’t think it’s very funny that anyone ever suggested it, even in a stupid story for children.
People think kids will believe anything, but I’m not the one packing up the car and making tactical decisions for an unimaginable future.
At this rate, the cereal will be gone, eaten up, by the time they tell me we’re ready to evacuate, and it’s hard to believe it, but even if we do manage to survive this latest disaster, the whole damn Anthropocene, the little plastic bag lining the box would still outlast us all.
My sister says it’s important to be sticklers about cleaning up after ourselves even at times like these, because she wants to maintain a sense of normalcy. But I understand normal now, or rather, I understand what’s not. Long after even evil is gone, dusted from this earth, I’m told there will still be plastic. It’s the kind of thing that can really take the fun out of saving the world.
Alyson Mosquera Dutemple’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Passages North, DIAGRAM, The Journal, and Wigleaf, among others, and her short story manuscript was named a runner-up for the 2022 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She works as an editorial consultant and creative writing instructor in New Jersey and holds an MFA in fiction from The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Find her on Twitter @swellspoken and at www.alysondutemple.com.