Such A Glorious Day

Such A Glorious Day by J. Kuzmier --  photo by John B. at

The sun shines with a brilliant glory on this particular day. Not a cloud in a sky. It doesn’t look like a day that can be blighted with disaster. Most people know better with these kinds of things. But it is strange what a clear sky will do the brain, thinks Miss Jefferson as she stretches her legs before getting out of bed. On such a glorious day, it is so easy to count one’s blessings, isn’t it? Lovely day for a stroll. Nothing bad can happen when the sun smiles down a warmth that seeps into your soul, no?

Miss Jefferson watches the day unfold from her living room, looking at the sun’s glory as she opens the curtains to greet the day. The clock over her mantle tells her it is just past nine in the morning. Well, it was shaping up to be a nice day, she thinks. When the weather was good, people were generally more cheerful. This was a good thing, she decided. But it wasn’t wise to let a good thing to go to your head, she had learned over her many years. Anything was possible. Mustn’t let your guard down. She had advised that to people over the years. You think positive, but be ready for anything. People had various opinions about the babbling of an old lady, but she wasn’t concerned. She’d earned the right to speak her mind after all this time.

She turns the news on. Heaven knows why she still did so, because she didn’t know why herself. The news was all murder and mayhem nowadays. If she were to guess, the news-watching habit was probably a holdover from her hippie days way back in the early sixties. That was back when she was a twenty-something who thought what she did could change the world, saving the world from nukes and police actions posing as wars. She knows better now. The world would do what it would do, go on fine or not, with or without her, she learned. But she still watched the news. Maybe it’s just her snooping ways, her curiosity for gossip about others. That was supposed to be a bad thing, she’d been taught as a girl. Well, that was just a bunch of noise, she had decided. She’d been into gossip her whole life, and nothing bad had come of it. So she watched the news, looked to see what was doing what to who and why. Life was so much of things happening and happening again. Until it stopped.

So she tunes into the news, into one of those channels that blabbed news twenty-four hours a day. So much going on, all of the time. They had the weather girl on. Which one? Who knows. Miss Jefferson couldn’t remember who. They all look alike to her, all skinny platinum blondes who look like they hadn’t eaten in about five days. Miss Jefferson has a hard time imagining all these pretty blondes clogging up meteorology classes en masse. But of course, that’s just her. Some things in the world just appeared awfully absurd to her, but what did she know? She shrugs at the thought.

So Miss Jefferson puts aside her prejudices for the moment, tuning into the weather report, which seems to be going on longer than it usually does on the general news channel. The weather girl was going on and on about the sun, rambling in a nervous chattering voice that didn’t seem terribly professional to Miss Jefferson. The weather girl was blathering so much about how dangerous things seemed to be that Miss Jefferson could barely understand what she was trying to say.

This is the gist of what was going on, Miss Jefferson presumed. Supposedly, there were a whole bunch of solar storms that were causing problems everywhere. These unusual patterns were circling the globe, which made the whole phenomenon even more unusual. Or so, said the weather girl. This girl was supposed to be unemotional and professional. But she was talking too fast, and keeps repeating herself. Miss Jefferson realizes that’s not a particularly good sign, that the girl seems so nervous. Miss Jefferson can hear the slight lilt of excitement in the weather girl’s voice. These weather people just loved the prospect of bad weather, it seemed.

Well, bad things were exciting, as long as it happened to other people, Miss Jefferson muses to herself. Over the years, she discovered that most people thought like that. Few admitted it, but bad news happening to others seemed to give vicarious pleasure to the vast majority of people. It was like a thrill to have something bad happen to another, but not to you. It appeared to be nice to feel like you escaped the bad fate of someone else, Miss Jefferson has noticed over the years. Why, she doesn’t know for sure. A sense of superiority, perhaps? Miss Jefferson was, and is, guilty of it herself, she has to admit. Sometimes, it was nice to think that you had what it took, more so than someone else. Survival of the fittest in the most superior of attitudes. Human nature, all around. People were the same everywhere, whether they admitted it or not, she had discovered.

Anyway, about this solar storm thing. Well, apparently it is causing all kinds of problems. Miss Jefferson can’t quite make heads or tails of the whole thing. It may be the nervousness she perceives in the weather girl. But Miss Jefferson has to admit that she’s the one who could be at fault. The science behind the world always baffled her. Her interests were never with the environment, Earth Day or whatever else. Besides, she never could understand the point of environmentalism. especially when she remembers how the activists lived like gluttons compared to most of the world.

No, that wasn’t for her. Peace had been her thing. War, that could be stopped, at least Miss Jefferson had thought so at one time. She thinks differently now. There’s a bit of the beast in everyone. This impulse has to go somewhere. Perhaps you needed a little war to know what peace was. Sounded good, anyway, at least to Miss Jefferson. It’s nice to come up with neat answers to life’s unanswerable questions. Such as the perplexing solar storms. This, apparently, was not supposed to happen, said the weather girl. It wasn’t supposed to happen, it seemed, because the scientists had somehow decided it wasn’t part of their little sun-cycle plan. This hubris annoys Miss Jefferson to no end. Well, she thinks, it did happen, whether it conformed to the scientists’ schedule or not. And what did that mean for the rest of us fools?, she wonders.

The television suddenly snaps off. And ‘snaps’ is the best word to describe it. The picture surged in a bright flash before it went silent. Like it went out in a blaze of glory. Good way to go if you could manage it, Miss Jefferson thinks. She presses the power button, but the television remains blind and mute.

Just as well, thinks Miss Jefferson, shrugging. It’s like that overused piece of folksy wisdom, God works in mysterious ways. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Look how addicted she could get to some bit of wiring and tubing, when there was a whole world out there waiting to be lived out. She knows she’s not the only one, with all the kids today zonked out with their phones punching away, bumping into walls and fire hydrants. But she really can’t judge too much, with her and the idiot box, tricking herself for even a moment that what happened on it passed for real life. Amazing what could seem real if you imagined it enough.

Well, seeing that the television is now officially dead, and was such a nice day, Miss Jefferson figures that she may as well take a walk. It would be nice to see what’s going on in the world. She could take a poll, seeing that her head was mired in this anti-technology inner monologue. She could note how many people were speaking to live people, and compare that number to the amount punching away on their gadgets. Miss Jefferson has a feeling which number will be higher, but she’d been wrong before. Perhaps today, she’d be proved wrong. Maybe, maybe not. Who knows?

Miss Jefferson makes her way out of her apartment building. For some reason, the road in front of her is unusually devoid of traffic. Looking both ways, she notices pile-ups in both directions. Two bad accidents right next to each other? Well, that’s a bit of strange bad luck, she thinks as she walks into the tree-lined park that she sees from her apartment across the street. This place is a nice place to go, she’s found. It’s a place that helps you forget about the city just outside its borders. Today, a lot of people are here. Even young people are out. Not surprising, even though it’s a weekday. The sun is glorious and shining, although its rays feel especially strong today. Nice day to play hooky, nice to get out.

What’s surprising, at least to Miss Jefferson, is the fact that none of these folks are absorbed in their so-called geek gadgets. At least that’s what she thinks at first with her bad eyes. At closer glance, she sees everyone does have their phones, pads, pings, or whatever else the newest nonsense is in their hands. Except today, nobody is utilizing them, at least for their intended purpose, whatever that is supposed to be. Some people hold their phones up high. They look like they are panning for gold in the air with them, like the gadgets are some kind of metal detector. Others punch the phones and other gadgets, in the manner that Miss Jefferson has done many times to her television when the signal goes snowy. A forty-something woman takes out the batteries in her phone, puts new ones in, but apparently nothing changes for her. So she bangs on it instead. Technology at its finest, notes Miss Jefferson.

Out of nowhere, loud and strange sounds echo through the trees. There’s a racket that seems to come from outside the park. Screaming, booming, crashing noises. The noises get louder, like the sky is exploding with sounds. It is like some pagan god is exploding fireworks in the heavens, especially when huge fireballs appear out of nowhere on the ground. Miss Jefferson looks to the heavens, and sees a plane flying way too low for a city as big as this one, before it suddenly becomes a blaze of fire far down the road. People abandon the mystery of their downed gadgets, and go to see what was going on. It’s just like a bad horror movie, notes Miss Jefferson. Instead of running away from danger, they go to the scene of the disaster. Miss Jefferson thinks of all the people standing on beaches while waters recede in the midst of tsunamis, rather than run away. This is what these people look like. Another example of human nature, the same thing, the whole world round.

Instead of joining them, Miss Jefferson decides to walk further into the park, away from the noise. She likes going to serene, natural-looking places when things go wrong, despite not being much of an environmentalist herself. It’s a bit of a contradiction, but Miss Jefferson has gotten used to the fact that this is exactly what she and the rest of humanity are all about, a mass of contradictions. She doesn’t care that this place is an artifice of nature. So what? Man had created everything into an artifice. This place is good enough for her, right now. She’s not in the mood to see carnage and destruction. Some little voice inside her seems to say, there would be more than enough of that very soon. Even deep in the woods, she can hear muffled screams, echoing crashes. Today, everything is changing. Here, at least for now, everything is quiet.

She sits on her favorite bench, the one in the mossy grass that seems out of place in a world of concrete. The area used to smell of dampness and newness. It would make Miss Jefferson imagine the marsh she used to play in as a little girl here. Memories of childhood, and the lazy countryside she left behind for the big bad city. Amazing what the mind can remember, given the right trigger, she thinks.

But these smells are now just as much a memory as that of her early years. Now, after all the destruction that has taken place, the odors of fire, oil, and destruction have eclipsed the beauty she knew at one time. So many things are memories now, and nothing more. Even this place of refuge is changing on her, too. She feels she will have to leave soon. But not yet. She’s not quite ready to leave. Her soul needs to think a little longer.

Miss Jefferson turns her vision upwards. Looking towards the sky, she feels like she is watching a strange movie. It’s like watching the heavens tango with dancing boughs of trees. God, or whoever is in charge up there, is having fun with the celestial palette today, she notes. There are strange fluorescent colors of greens, reds and blues flashing across the sky. There are light purple and pinks. This is better than a psychedelic light show at a planetarium, she muses. Out of nowhere, there’s a white flash. Then the whole thing starts all over again. And again. And again.

Miss Jefferson has no idea how much time it has passed for all this to take place, or how long she’s been sitting here on the bench. It feels like it all happened in a blink of an eye. Just like the way the old preachers had said Jesus would return one day, and all the self-proclaimed prophets said, too. She remembers, how all of them had been so hung up on this rapture thing. Where all the good boys and girls would be spared divine wrath, getting caught up in some circus stunt rising into the heavens. As far as Miss Jefferson is concerned, this rapture thing is nothing more than a mentally lazy shortcut. It’s like these saints thought God would never subject them to the same hellfire of judgment as evil heathens like her who didn’t believe. Miss Jefferson supposed that these naive saints forgot what their God let Jesus endure.

The end of the world was another thing one of those things that people got really excited about, Miss Jefferson had discovered. The self-proclaimed prophets liked to think they had some divine connection where they and they alone could channel the deity’s secrets as to when the end would come. It was another case of feeling superior, that they had some key to the future that others didn’t. Well, hey, if you really did have that much inside information and it was for real, why wouldn’t you feel superior? Miss Jefferson couldn’t blame them for having that shred of hope in a crazy world. And besides, one day, one of them would get it right, even if it was sheer chance and coincidence. Maybe today would be their big jackpot, and people would be floating up in the air any second now. Who knew with these things?

So far, Miss Jefferson couldn’t see any figures floating up in the air. Maybe heathens like her were blocked by the deities from witnessing such fantastic glories. Probably not, though. From what she recalled, sinners like her were supposed to see things like that. See what they missed for being such devilish rebels. But she isn’t seeing anything, just more and more colors. The cacophony of screams and yells had somehow become, in whatever span of time she’d been here, a low hum that she had she’d written off. Amazing what a person could get used to and decide to ignore. It was the beginning stages of denial, which was not always a bad thing.

But the burning smells are getting to her, and she isn’t able to ignore that one. Besides, nature isn’t sharing any wisdom with her. Maybe she should get back to the apartment to prepare for when it gets dark. She has some candles there, and she suspected she was going to need them. She can’t know for sure here in the park, but it seems like everyone, saints and sinners alike, was going to be stuck in the dark for awhile.

The noise of all the others gets louder as she makes her way back towards civilization, if civilization even existed anymore, as well as her home. As she leaves the park, Miss Jefferson notices the carcasses of vehicles strewn across the road. People scream, yell, push against each other. As she suspected earlier, the skyline is now darkened with smoke. It is completely devoid of the artificial light which kept everything going for such a long time. Things were happening that no one would have ever suspected would occur when they woke up first thing today. There are fires by the vehicles, and people running around them. Miss Jefferson makes her way past all the mayhem, back to the building she’s called home for so long. The rules were changing, and survival of the fittest would no longer mean the most updated techno thing anymore.

Miss Jefferson reaches her apartment, after climbing two deserted flights of stairs by feeling her way along the wall of the darkened stairwell. The keys to her building and her home still work, low tech as much as it is low budget. Fortunately, no one had thought to break into the place, at least not yet. Miss Jefferson knows some martial arts, which might come in handy during times like these. But as far as she’s concerned, when it’s your time, it’s your time. You do what you can, but you couldn’t do everything. That’s the way it goes with these things, she’s learned. Not much you can do to change human nature.

In the meantime, there was work to do in this new reality. Miss Jefferson knew she’d need to really take care of the basics to get through things. She hadn’t eaten anything all day, and she wasn’t in any hurry to start looking like the anorexic meteorologist she saw on her television today. Best to get some candles going, eat some food while she has some. Miss Jefferson can hear screaming from far down below, yet the rest of her floor is silent. Like it is in mourning.

After lighting a candle, Miss Jefferson places it by her window overlooking the city. It looks like a star at a vigil, watching over all those below her. Well, perhaps it is, she thinks. Things would have different meanings now, she believes. Miss Jefferson turns away from the window, walking to the cupboard nearby. Life would go on, until it didn’t. The world would go on, or it wouldn’t. In the meantime, she’d find something to eat. Crackers, maybe, or some dry cereal. Lord only knew, she’d need all the strength she could possible get in the coming days. Who knows what would happen next in this world? She shuddered, as a strange feeling came upon her, perhaps it really was the end?

2 Responses to “Such A Glorious Day”

  1. Diane says:

    Wow! I like Miss Jefferson! She has a good head on her shoulders. For now . . .
    Your story had a timeless, inevitable feel to it. very believable. We get so used to Hollywood writing the ‘end of the world’ scenarios that we don’t stop the think that the normal, average person will only see their small slice of things. Like Miss Jefferson. Very well done!