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Selection

Ken's collections of brief fictions, Constant Animals, Avenging Cartography, Revenge of the House Hurlers, and Engaging Cattle; and collections of poetry, The Book of Robot, and Victims of a Failed Civics, can be located at Amazon, most online booksellers, and through links at www.barkingmoosepress.com. He spent 33 years in information system management, is married to a world record holding female power lifter, and has a family of several cats and betta fish. Individual works have appeared in Cafe Irreal, Analog, Danse Macabre, The Cincinnati Review, and several hundred other places. He has had seven Pushcart nominations without fielding a single win.
It has been a while since my wife was Raptured. Happened right there in the grocery store lot. One minute, we were deciding whether the cola should go in the trunk or on the back seat, and the next she was ten feet in the air and gaining momentum.
We always buy too much when we go to the store, trying to take advantage of all the hidden bargains. Back with our full cart, we know not all of it will go in our small and already amply populated trunk. So, there is the discussion about what items fit best in which available rolling space.
We should plan ahead, but that is not an option anymore.
I don't know why she would be taken and not me. It has been a fair marriage. We have similar faults, compatible grievances with the rest of the world. Our upbringings, as far as each of us knows, were parallel. Outwardly, neither of us seemed more godly than the other. The decision point must have turned on some internal disposition. Perhaps less on demonstrated belief than on a willingness to believe. Perhaps less an act of reverence than reverence in the act.
I still feel her presence. I talk with my memory of her sometimes as I drive. I find myself on the verge of calling to her as if she were in the kitchen. I catch myself. Nights I stay on my customary side of the bed, blankets laid out still, so I do not steal her allotment. I can feel her there in the quibbling dark beside me, her occasional turns and resettling. Her mass seems to dent the mattress. I still grow restless with my old desires and wants and habits and inaccuracies.
God forgive me, but I sometimes think the sex is better now than before. At least it is less seldom.
Meals are an issue. Our pairing was always a traditional, mundane marriage. I would read the evening paper, she would plot and deliver the meal, invite me to the repast when it was ready. Some days now I settle behind the paper and absent-mindedly await my summons. I am eating often out of cans, much later than I used to, the paper finished to the last word.
A few of us in similar condition--the spouse left behind--have banded together, started meeting on Sunday afternoons. All of us are surprised at how few of us there are. At first, we thought most couples were Raptured together--but we soon noted to one another that traffic is as bad now as before, the lines in the supermarket go no faster. Apparently, some families were not affected by the Rapture at all. No new absences in the near family, no connection to the event except by rumor.
And where is the grand destruction? The battle between good and evil that the Rapture was the opening chapter for? None of us coming close to Biblical scholars, we disagreed on what that big splash should likely look like--but we all agree something should have happened. God would not waste a good Rapture.
Yet, those unaffected by the harvest of souls that has left some of us partnerless seem to be going about their lives unmarked. The sky is not falling. The horsemen of the apocalypse are not trampling those left behind beneath fire sputtering hooves. No sword of righteousness.
Instead, over time, my neighbors have become more surly, perhaps indirectly suspicious. I catch ever more sideways glances, the birth of a sneer. I see neighbors standing together, inaudible conversation punctuated with a glance in my direction.
One day, the fellow who lives diagonally across the street--a long acquaintance never matriculating to friend--asked, "What really happened to your wife?" I recounted the Rapture and he scoffed, turned almost angrily, angled back into his fully peopled house.
I mentioned the encounter to the group Sunday, and others volunteered similar encounters. Surprise or initial indifference in the unaffected public seems everywhere to be morphing into disdain, perhaps even suspicion. Many of us are beginning to wonder about our safety; the distance the vast majority of the citizenry, free of the event, maintain; the lack of empathy for those of us bereft of our wanton partners.
Then again, perhaps this is the slow but accelerating apocalypse God has planned. An ill-informed polity can be a tool for any imagined end. He may be more sly than we believe, and it is useless for us to try to fathom His designs. But, at the moment, best to just worry about the mood of our clueless neighbors, hope for us there is a second round of selections.
And then there is learning how laundry is done.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, April 20th, 2021


Coming from a family that is deeply religious, it has always been of keen interest to note the differences of faith within the family. Relatives have often twisted reality in merciless ways to meet the demands of their faith. There is room for faith, but it needs to take into account the environment in which it exists. When the momentous occurs, it must fit into the reality that is left.

- Ken Poyner
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