April Morris--Housewife

[Editor's Note:  For readers unfamiliar with the concept of biblical rapture, please refer to this helpful Wikipedia entry:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapture]

The doorbell rang and the baby screamed louder.  April opened the door to the fleeting delivery man, and the cardboard package left in the hall.

She plunged a steak knife through the box’s sealing tape, and withdrew the sweater she had ordered from a catalogue when she’d been in the hospital with the newborn.  Beneath the folded wool, however, was something she hadn’t paid for.  Wrapped in plastic was a purple, Buddha shaped candle whose closed eyes and calm face promised the tired mother serenity.  It wasn’t worth the hassle of calling the catalogue company to tell them of their mistake.  April set the Buddha on the mantel and lit it. 

The wick burned down into the sickly sweet odor of musk.  The baby, screaming in his crib until now, stopped.  The names of false gods—Hera, Mammon, GaGa—flitted through April’s head.  She worried what Paul would say when he got home from the seminary, but surely the Buddha would be melted by then.

Preparing dinner in the kitchen, she slit her thumb cutting vegetables.  Blood dribbled on the cutting board.  The apartment shook violently.  Before she could finish her thought of how queer a Kentucky earthquake was, a falling vase struck her.

When she woke on the floor the earthquake was over.  The Buddha’s scent hung heavy in the air.  The wall stained red from her bloody thumb as she steadied herself in the doorway.  The baby—why wasn’t it crying?  April stepped over a toppled bookshelf and into the nursery.  On the crib’s mattress was a green chemical burn and empty clothes where the baby should have been.

The phone was dead.  The panic-stricken mother beat on the doors of the neighbors, and when no one answered she ran outdoors for help. 

April’s quick breaths froze in the air.  Patches of snow dotted the lawn.  Wrecked cars stood abandoned in the street.  She was the sole inhabitant of an empty world.

Back inside she knelt before the burning idol.  She positioned her Bible—useless now that she couldn’t appeal to God—to catch the wax dripping from the mantel.  The book’s pages were sealed forever.  Her husband never came home to her.