Nonfiction from Moisés Delgado

Sepia-toned night sky with Milky Way

Photo: Aperture Vintage

Preparing for the End of the World

It is 2012 and the world is ending. New York is underwater, the earth is splitting below LA’s feet, and here in Omaha, Nebraska, the sky is dark and touching ground—skyrocketing cars out of this orbit, untethering chain link fences, splintering our home open. But we are safe. Our home has been stripped (by us) of all that matters—photo albums, birth certificates, a wooden carving of the Virgin Mary carefully packed into backpacks along with water bottles, Gatorade, saltine crackers, bananas, Band-aids, rubbing alcohol, Advil, Vicks VapoRub, prayer beads. We’ve been long gone. Two weeks on the road in case of traffic jams, families like us escaping, and to spend two weeks with US landscapes even if they haven’t always been the home my parents were led to believe they’d be, but nonetheless, this has been home. To not say goodbye, on our terms, to the flatlands that have homed us for a decade and a half would be a kind of grief we wouldn’t know how to maze our way out of. This is what I imagine we’re all thinking as we watch 2012. When John Cusack steps on the gas pedal, we think my dad can do the same, swerve and drift our Jeep to avoid falling into the pits of hell as the interstate thunders open. Maybe it’s just me plotting how to get us seats on those massive ships when we don’t have much money. I’m thinking of how I’ll learn to safely crash a plane in case our plane runs out of fuel. I’m thinking of how I’ll finally need to learn to do more than drown—learn to hold my breath for five minutes. I’m thinking of how I’ll lose everything. I am thirteen. I believe in God enough to think we could survive, but not enough to think He’ll prevent the world from ending. In seven months I’ll graduate middle school. In ten months I’ll be in high school. I am thirteen, and I think I like boys. And it is terrifying. I’m thinking of how I might not have to erase that part of myself after all. When the world is ending, I’ll purposefully slip as we’re boarding the ships and disappear with my shames. I’m thinking of how I’ll prepare my mom for that now, so she’ll be capable of pushing forward when I am gone. The world won’t end in three years, of course, but we will lose our home in five years, and I’ll simultaneously convince myself I was right to always expect loss and chastise myself for not expecting enough of it. I’ll feel as empty as our ashened home, but  that will be in the future. We’re driving home from the theater. A smooth sail down Cornhusker at this time of night. The road empty, lit by orange lampposts, fast food signs, and the moon rising out east over Iowa. 2012 will get a 39% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but we’re easily entertained by action-heavy movies, so we thought it was good. We’re ready to head to bed. We don’t yet know what worries will come over the next few years, but that’s okay—all I am thinking is how I ate too much popcorn. All I’m praying for is no red lights.


Moisés Delgado is an MFA candidate at the University of Arizona, where he serves as senior editor of Sonora Review. His prose appears in Gulf Coast, Hobart, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. Moisés loves the moon, board games, and strawberry conchas.

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