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Last Stand

I peer out a crack in the wall and see the grisly, salivating maw of the German Shepard on the leash of his handler searching for us, waiting to tear us to pieces.

I have been in hiding in this bunker for 60 days now with a number of others. We are starting to run low on food and supplies. We are being hunted relentlessly on the orders of the Supreme Commander in Chief, who has decreed that all subversives be rounded up and imprisoned and if they resist, killed on the spot. This includes political opponents as well as all Democrats in Congress. Having gone through the voting records of citizens, the TAF (Trump Allied Forces) are conducting door-to-door searches for people who voted for the other side.

Some people saw the signs that this Democratic government would fall, but others could not face reality. They insisted that “this was their country too” and would stand and fight. But, for many it was too late and they could no longer escape.

The lucky or smart ones escaped to other countries, but the unlucky ones or those in denial had no choice but to either be rounded up and jailed or go into hiding. I am one of those unlucky ones who watched as the Democratic nation I loved became increasingly unstable but stood by in disbelief as one institution after another fell until we faced an autocracy ruled by a strong man.

I am now ensconced in a secret underground bunker, making do with whatever medieval supplies we could pilfer from old warehouses. We watched as the political storm became increasingly volatile knowing that we would reach a point of no return, where it was either sit by or take action. We have been preparing for a “doomsday” for a year now, stockpiling supplies and weapons, hoping we would never need these. A network of secret communication was created so if and when the day came, we would be ready, and when it came we said, “Now.”

So we fled with our lives, and some of our meager possessions, hoping we would not be betrayed by any TAF spies who might’ve infiltrated our group.

We each had our assigned role, and mine was to keep watch on the outside world through that crack in the wall. So today I have climbed up to the top of the bunker where I can peer out at the horror of what has become of the United States of America.

Each day our small TV shows the good and dissenting citizens being rounded up and shot, or jailed in deplorable conditions. We watch as the U.S. rule of law and Constitution is being destroyed.

How did this happen? How did we come to this? Looking back I remember being told over and over that the American People are smart and would not elect a charlatan and con man, but it happened. How could people continue to support him even after a damning report came out detailing all the lies and criminal activities he was engaged in and still is?  But the report was ignored and the majority of the people fell under his spell. They were already anchored, and just as human nature is, refused to admit they were wrong. They gradually let it happen, with the help of his minions and sycophants in Congress, the Russian bots, and Trump News. They were mesmerized and no matter all the warnings, believed all the lies. The American people were duped and now here we are, just a few pockets of dissenters left in this country to carry on some day.

But we have a new leader who has been gaining ground and each night we sneak out and flood the streets with flyers. So, I have hope in the goodness of humankind and that people will rise up against this evil regime. I must pray that we are not too late and believe with my soul that we will prevail in the end.

Moon Tales

We were a real family that night—just like any other.

It was four days before my birthday, July 20, 1969, and my most wonderful memory of that famous day was that my crazy, dysfunctional family, came together as one.

We were a family in name and proximity only—four people who just happened to be living in the same apartment, never spinning in the same orbit.  It is something I never really noticed before until my first husband brought it to my attention once.  As an outside observer, he said, “You just live in the same space—like you were just thrown together—and you all don’t even seem related.” That was us—each one going our own separate way.  It seemed perfectly normal for everyone to eat at different times. Nobody waited for anyone else because we were on totally different schedules. My dad worked two jobs and had to eat early to go to his nighttime job at the post office. I would always try to avoid him when he came home about 5 pm. If it were the summer, I would deliberately stay outside until he left. On school days when I was home, a distinct feeling of dread would engulf me when I heard the key in the door and I would think, “Oh, he’s home” and would have to endure an hour of criticism about everything under the sun—nothing was off limits. When he left, I breathed a sigh of relief.  My mom, who worked full time as a legal secretary, would always come home later than anyone so she would leave little notes on the small kitchen counter telling us what was in the frig that we were supposed to heat up for dinner. It was always something different for each of us but we would know who the instructions were addressed to by the title: M (for Marilyn), S (for Sam—my dad), and G (for Gordon—my brother). Those monikers stuck because I still call my brother G and he still calls me M.

I guess I didn’t know any better because my best friend, Janet, had a very strange, dysfunctional family too. In fact there were many parallels. I think living in a large apartment complex in Manhattan did not foster closeness in families. So, I simply thought it was normal to have everyone doing their own thing.

But when I look back on that magical late afternoon on Sunday, I can still feel the excitement. The anticipation was palpable and all our petty differences, and our apartness, were forgotten. I remember not even believing that a man was actually going to walk on the moon and that we would be seeing this on TV—it seemed more like a dream than reality. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this bright mythical sphere in the sky would become real and tangible. That afternoon we gathered together in our living room in front of our black and white TV—a family, an honest to goodness family—sharing a moment in history—awestruck. It brings a smile to my face when I look back at that day and I am still in awe. After many visits to the moon, it became almost commonplace, but in 1969, for that one moment in time, we, and the entire world were united and I had a real family.

Five Minutes to Live

The alarms are blaring outside and the TV has the shrill piercing beep and a warning to take cover immediately—that North Korea has launched missiles that will reach the U.S. in less than 5 minutes.

I’m so scared that I am almost in a catatonic state, finding it hard to believe that this is the end for us all. For weeks we have been getting dire predictions that war is imminent but like everyone else I did not really believe it. How could that be? How could any rational person let the rhetoric get so out of hand that here we are. But when you have so many lickspittles in Washington not willing to stand up to this administration, it was inevitable. When you have an unbalanced President who stokes the fires and provokes, and thinks it is macho to use the nuclear weapons at his disposal, it is bound to happen. I go through the motions of grabbing my birds and jumping into my bedroom closet—the safest place. But, as I am doing this I know there is no safety anywhere and I am doomed. Well at least I will die fast.

I close my eyes, think of my children and feel so sad that I will not be able to say goodbye. I harken back to when I was a child and I used to play the game of what if: what if the Russians launched a bomb and we were told it would hit us in 5 minutes? I remember saying that I would hide in the closet with no other thought of what would become of us. I remember hiding underneath the desk at school for our bomb drills and cannot believe that this is it and all that practice was for naught. However, I take solace in the fact that at least I won’t get any older, and that maybe I will see my boy in heaven, all healed and beaming. A feeling of peace and calm comes over me as I pray. Those sweet parrots of mine know something is wrong and instead of squirming and squawking they are quiet and strangely attentive, just sitting with me. I think of all the things I wanted to do and never did. I oddly worry about my computer and laptop, and my beautiful camera equipment. I think that nobody will ever know I existed because all traces of my life will be obliterated with everything else. I wonder if by some chance I do survive the initial impact, how long will it take for the radiation to travel and how us survivors will die a slow and agonizing death. I think back on the movie, “On the Beach” where survivors who lived in Australia waited for the inevitable. I remember the ominously preternatural TV movie, “The Day After” and try to remember how long it took for Jason Robards to die of radiation poisoning. I think of my friend whose entire family moved to Australia during the cold war, only to move back to New York a few years later. I wonder who will succumb first—me or the birds? I think that if only I had taken my phone into the closet I could at least say farewell to my son, but in my haste I left it outside on the counter. I wonder if anybody will be posting on Facebook or the Kardashians will post doomsday selfies, maybe burying them in a time capsule to let the future inhabitants of the world know who the beautiful people were. Will my pictures or paintings survive? How about my IRA—will I have money to live in the new apocalyptic world. Will I lose my hair and where will I get my hair done in the new world if I don’t die, knowing full well all these thoughts are totally ridiculous?

Then during my foray into the dire future or lack thereof, I suddenly become aware that the sirens have stopped and there seems to be some announcement on the TV. I wonder if I am just dead already. I listen carefully and decide to venture out of the closet only to hear the amazing announcement that a miracle of sorts has happened—the U.S. has intercepted the missiles and the strike has been averted. We will live—I will live—my children will live. The announcer is saying that the threat is over and during my rejoicing and relief, a cold and dark shadow appears to pass over me making me shiver and I sigh and say, “For now.”

A New World

I wake up with the sunlight filtering through the venetian blinds, leaving shadows on the ceiling and walls. I have a strange sensation—not sure if it is good or bad—but something feels different.

Suddenly I bolt awake, sit up and look at the clock. OK, it says 7 am so that seems about right. What is it then—what feels so foreign and misplaced? Things feel wrong! I look around the room and at first glance everything seems in order—the furniture, pictures on the wall, the color of the room, the bedspread, so I start to relax, thinking that maybe I just had a bad dream. Yet I begin to notice some strange alterations. The pictures have changed some how—yes, they are animated—my self- portrait is actually talking to me and it seems perfectly natural. I go over and gaze out the window, at the huge glowing chatoyant sphere in the sky, changing shape and form—not a normal sun—almost like an eclipse. I turn on the TV, waiting with anticipation and dread for the latest negative installment of what has become a reality show day after day. It appears that there is no news on The One Who Shall Not Be Named, almost as if he is not even the Commander in Chief anymore, or ever even was. I change channels and cannot find any mention of this person almost as if he never even existed. I look on the Internet and find nothing but good news—no mention of ISIS or terrorists or investigation or collusion.

So now I begin to think that I must’ve died and I am living in Heaven—whew, thank you God. I wonder if they have IPhones in Heaven and what version—are they up to at least 7 yet? Six would be OK too, but come on—if they are operating only on the 4 or 5, this must be the other place—the place I always assumed I would end up in. Much to my relief, Heaven has kept up with the latest technology and they are operating on a new IPhone 8 and I get to use it even before those poor Earth bound creatures do. This also confirms that I am indeed blessed. But wait, shouldn’t I be seeing relatives who have passed on or Sweetie, or Parky (my sweet pet budgies)? Oh no, now an uncomfortable thought occurs to me—maybe this is NOT Heaven after all. So, then where am I anyway? Maybe I am in a sort of in-between world, like Purgatory, where I am being tested to see if I am worthy of moving upwards? I go back to my self-portrait in my bedroom, and start asking her what is happening and where I am. She says I am neither in Heaven nor Hell and there has been a shift since I went to bed last night. I am now living in another world which resembles the old one, but without all the drama and horror. I ask about my children, friends, pets, and she says they are also in this new world, but better. I am not lonely, my son is well, I am happy at last—that empty pit in my gut, which is always there has been filled. I look at my contact list and see that it is basically still the same, but I see my son’s name has been miraculously added. I call him and we have an amazing conversation about how well he is doing, and that he is spending the weekend with his son. He assures me that he will be coming to visit soon and we hang up with “I love you.” I call some strange name on the list which has been added and discover that he is my boyfriend and we are on for dinner tonight, at which we will be planning a world tour—one which we don’t have to worry about being bombed, shot, run over by a car, or knifed at the airport. That anxious, sick feeling that haunts me day in and day out is amazingly gone.

But wait, I ask my self-portrait, “What is the catch—there must be a catch? There has to be something I must do to have this perfect life—so what is it then? Oh please tell me, my other self!” She smiles and proceeds to tell me what I must do to stay in this utopia. I must be totally unselfish and not self-centered; I must not have to have the last word; I must get rid of all jealousy and envy; I must be grateful for what I now have, even if it isn’t perfect; I must accept things as they currently are, not how I wish them to be; I must look in the mirror and love what I see, regardless of imperfections; I must be non-judgmental and practice tolerance and acceptance of others. My Alternate Marilyn assures me if I practice these simple principles in my life from this point on I can stay in this perfect world. Marilyn tells me that I have a week trial-period and if I cannot change after a week I will simply wake up, things will seem the same, but my world will return as before and sadly I will not remember. Now I am frightened because I just cannot fathom my life the way it was—all that time, just thinking there was no other way to live. I know I can do this—I am determined to change everything.

I wake up it seems the next day, I turn on the TV and there is yet another investigation of our President, there has been a bombing in the UK with dozens killed and ISIS has claimed responsibility. The world is back to the usual chaos and I blindly accept it with a sigh and resignation as I drink my morning coffee because I don’t know any better. I don’t know what could’ve been because I am back in the old reality—the old world. My self-portrait looks almost the same except for the small tear running down her right cheek.