Penny Worthmore stalked her way home from work, following closely behind a well-bundled older woman who was making fresh tracks in the snow. She hummed a simple tune that had been running through her head all day, then paused to admire some graffiti on the fence outside her home. Yes, it had been a good day.
Penny smiled at the half frozen pumpkin heads sitting underneath a fresh covering of snow, and waved to her cat, still lying as she had every day for a week. Life couldn't be better. It was a perfect day in an upside down universe.
She opened the door, walked into her house--empty now that her husband had left--and hung her coat up on the last hanger in the closet. Her humming grew louder until she burst full out into song, singing in a squeaky, off-key voice, "It's the end of the world as we know it . . ."
The telephone rang, interrupting her solo.
"Hello, Penny. This is Visa calling. You've missed the last three payments, so we're going to have to suspend your card."
"Hey, that's great! I have other cards, can you suspend those too?"
"No, we just want you to pay us and to cut up your card."
"It's nothing personal.are you okay?"
"I'm terrific. This has been the best week of my life and today was probably the best. They laid me off at work."
"Oh . . . I'm sorry, but you still have to pay the bill."
"Oh I know, I will, but that's not EVERYTHING. Someone ran over my cat, and my husband left me."
"Oh, I'm really sorry.mmm.but we will require payment within fourteen days."
"That's right. I'll pay you, I just won't eat. That makes it even better--I'll lose those few extra pounds."
"Miss, are you alright?"
"And you will pay?"
Penny hung the phone up and danced around her kitchen. "It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine."
She rummaged through the fridge, throwing away the rotting pickles, steak, and cottage cheese. Cottage cheese always made her a little nervous. Then, as one final lucid thought crossed her mind she said quietly,
"I should bury my cat."
Jackie Ashton is a published writer living in Alberta Canada with her husband and four children. She has written over two hundred songs and poems, as well as numerous short stories. She is currently working on a fiction novel and a non-fiction how-to carpentry manual for women.
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