Two years ago, Julie wandered into the coffee shop, eyes mostly skyward. She squeezed into the other side of my booth, told me that the end was near. She had received a word, she said.
I should have listened but instead looked back to the pages of my good book–the one that talks about thieves in the night. Julie kept muttering something about traveling to Chicago with her so that I could receive the blessing. She reached into her purse and pulled out the edge-frayed business card of some insurance salesman, turned it over, and wrote down the date. “Meet me here at 6:00 on this date,” she said. “You can ride with me.”
She believed that the devotees and followers would gather downtown on that last day; they’d wait to see the lights flicker out. She’d drive and even pay for the gas, she said. Her Chrysler Town & Country would only hold seven, but she had reserved a spot for me. It would be a rapturous event. Julie was sure of it.
I sipped my latte and cocked my head. “How could you possibly know the day or the hour.” She responded with squinted eyes and crooked smirk. Julie was that way, always predicting the end of things. She was mocha-soy-latte half-full smug, which was worsted only by her bent toward thrill-is-gone smug. She once told me that I wouldn’t marry my fiancé, Barrett. She was right, but that prediction suffered more than a false-prophet’s chance. “I couldn’t possibly plan two years in advance,” I told her “and besides, I’ll probably just take my chances.”
Julie slid the card across the table and scooted out of the booth. “Just in case,” she said. “Probably not,” I informed her.
But now I sit alone in this same coffee shop two years later and I’m thinking of Julie. I pull the insurance salesman’s card from my own purse, notice today’s date. Julie is there now, she and six others. They are waiting to receive their abundant blessing, waiting to watch it all unfold. Waiting to experience the passing of the old, the birth of the new.
The waitress peeks at my booth, catches my eye. “You mind if I turn the channel,” she says pointing to the big screen hanging on the back wall. I shake my head slowly, unmask my disappointment. The countdown has started and the network is looping the announcement that confirmed Julie’s prophesy–the announcement that was delivered one year after Julie slid me this card. I can’t believe that it all ends today.